Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer as Lutheran
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the most engaging characters of the 20th century as well as an immensely important and popular theologian. As time goes on, more and more people know who he is and acknowledge his influence on their work and lives. I have noticed, however, a strange lack of awareness or acknowledgement of Bonhoeffer’s Lutheranism. That is, many take what he says about discipleship, ecclesiology, prayer, and the like to heart, but divorce those ideas from their Lutheran context in his thought. Yet, for Bonhoeffer, his Lutheran theology was central to his understanding of Christianity. He wrote in The Cost of Discipleship:
How then do we come to participate in the Body of Christ, who did all this for us? It is certain that there can be no fellowship or communion with him except through his Body, baptism and the Lord’s Supper… The sacraments begin and end in the Body of Christ, and it is only the presence of that Body which makes them what they are. The word of preaching is insufficient to make us members of Christ’s body; the sacraments also have to be added. Baptism incorporates us into the unity of the Body of Christ, and the Lord’s Supper fosters and sustains our fellowship and communion… in that Body. (239, cited below)
These words can be found echoed in Bonhoeffer’s writings. His understanding of the universe was a Lutheran understanding, one which teaches Word and Sacrament. To do justice to his legacy, we need to acknowledge the fact that he isn’t just some theologian we can pull individual ideas from; instead, we must see him as Lutheran.
Bonhoeffer’s Troubling Theology?- A response to an article on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theological perspectives– I have argued elsewhere that the broad evangelical understanding of Bonhoeffer may, indeed, be a misunderstanding of the fact that he is Lutheran.
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Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Touchstone, 1995).