"Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace." And with that sharp warning to his own church, which was engaged in...
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Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works series
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works series is the definitive English translation of the German editions of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke—a comprehensive and thoroughly annotated sixteen-volume resource for the study of Bonhoeffer in the wider frame of twentieth-century thought and history.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Reader's Edition is now available!
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Featuring the acclaimed DBWE translation and adapted for a more accessible format, the new Reader's Edition volumes include supplemental material from DBWE general editor, Victoria J. Barnett, as well as insightful introductions by Bonhoeffer scholars which clarify the theological meaning and importance of his work.
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Quotes from Bonhoeffer
Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance
“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin; it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ.”
We must learn to regard human beings less in terms of what they do and neglect to do and more in terms of what they suffer.
When I judge, I am blind to my own evil
"Judging others makes us blind, but love gives us sight. When I judge, I am blind to my own evil and to the grace granted the other person. But in the love of Christ, disciples know about every imaginable kind of guilt and sin, because they know of the suffering of Jesus Christ."
All judging presupposes the most dangerous self-deception
"All judging presupposes the most dangerous self-deception, namely, that the word of God applies differently to me than it does to my neighbor. I claim an exceptional right in that I say: forgiveness applies to me, but condemnation applies to the other person. Judgment as arrogation of false justice about one’s neighbor is totally forbidden to the disciples. They did not receive special rights for themselves from Jesus, which they ought to claim before others. All they receive is communion with him."
Jesus on the cross didn't try to talk the two thieves into anything—it was one of them who turned to him.
We always receive infinitely more than we give
“In normal life one is often not at all aware that we always receive infinitely more than we give, and that gratitude is what enriches life. One easily overestimates the importance of one’s own acts and deeds, compared with what we become only through other people.”
One must not find fault with people in their worldliness but rather confront them with God where they are strongest.
"What I am driving at is that God should not be smuggled in somewhere, in the very last, secret place that is left. Instead, one must simply recognize that the world and humankind have come of age. One must not find fault with people in their worldliness but rather confront them with God where they are strongest. One must give up the “holier-than-thou” ploys and not regard psychotherapy or existential philosophy as scouts preparing the way for God. The intrusive manner of all these methods is far too unaristocratic for the Word of God to be allied with them. The Word of God does not ally itself with this rebellion of mistrust, this rebellion from below. Instead, it reigns."
The Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes.
"Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work.”
God in no way fills emptiness but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve—even in pain—the authentic relationship.
“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve—even in pain—the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”
Resources for further study
Reading List: Biographies
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance, Ferdinand Schlingensiepen, (Continuum, 2010)
- Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelsen, 2011)
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography, Eberhard Bethge (Fortress Press, 2000)
- Strange Glory, Charles Marsh, (Penguin Random House 2015)
Reading List: Must-read books by and about Bonhoeffer
- The Bonhoeffer Reader, Clifford J. Green, Michael P. DeJonge
- Interpreting Bonhoeffer: Historical Perspectives, Emerging Issues Clifford J. Green, Guy C. Carter
- The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Isabel Best, editor
- A Church Undone: Documents from the German Christian Faith Movement, 1932-1940, Mary M. Solberg
- Bonhoeffer and King: Their Legacies and Import for Christian Social Thought, Willis Jenkins, Jennifer McBride
- Who Is Christ for Us?, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Craig L. Nessan
- Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, Dietrich Bonhoeffer