Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Bonhoeffer, from Letters and Papers from Prison

As previously posted, I have Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the mind, and look forward to commemorating his life this Saturday at St. Luke's in Worcester. These words, written 21 July 1944 to his friend, Eberhard Bethge, still seem profoundly relevant to the challenges we face today. 
During the last year or so I've come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity. The Christian is not a homo religious but simply a man, as Jesus was a man - in contrast to, shall we say, John the Baptist. I don't mean the shallow and banal this-worldliness of the enlightened, the busy, the comfortable, or the lascivious, but the profound this-worldliness characterized by discipline and the constant knowledge of death and resurrection. I think Luther lived a this-worldly life in this sense... I'm still discovering right up to this moment that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. One must completely abandon any attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint or a converted sinner or a churchman (a so-called priestly type!), a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one. by this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously not our own sufferings but those of God in the world - watching with Christ in Gethsemane. That, I think, is faith; that is metanoia; and that is how one becomes a man and a Christian (cf Jer 45!)

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