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Holy Week- A reflection inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God consents to be pushed out of the world and onto the cross; God is weak and powerless in the world and in precisely this way, and only so, is at our side and helps us. Matthew 8:17 makes it quite clear that Christ helps us not by virtue of his omnipotence but rather by virtue of his weakness and suffering! This is the crucial distinction between Christianity and all religions. Human religiosity directs people in need to the power of God in the world, God as deus ex machina. The Bible directs people toward the powerlessness and the suffering of God; only the suffering God can help. – DBWE 8, p. 479

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote much related to the cross, and I have constantly found his reflections to be enlightening for devotional and reflective reading, particularly during seasons like Lent. The words presented here are from a passage he wrote while imprisoned by the Nazis, and it is in the middle of his own musics on a “worldly” or “religionless” Christianity, a theme that one may find throughout his career, despite some limiting it only to the latter part of his life.

Here, we see Bonhoeffer pointing to the cross in the midst of a discussion in which he says God comes to us when we are without God, and that God comes against us to be for us. What do all of these confusing things mean?

In the midst of Holy Week, as I watched Notre Dame burn and its spire collapse, I could not help but think about the suffering God in Christ. Then, I opened the works of Bonhoeffer during a devotional time and came upon the passage above. “Only the suffering God can help,” says Bonhoeffer, writing from prison in the midst of a horrific, terrifying war. These words spoke to me in the midst of my own recent sorrows as I dealt with a few fellow Christians condemning me for disagreeing with their beliefs.

Bonhoeffer here points us towards the cross. It is on the cross that God suffered and enters into the world most fully. God does not wave a hand and end suffering; instead, God takes suffering upon Christ, enduring the cross for our sake.

When we endure suffering due to our beliefs.

Only the suffering God can help.

When we seek to end the injustice in the world.

Only the suffering God can help.

When we come to God in times of sorrow.

Only the suffering God can help.

When we see the world in all of its horror, wishing for beauty.

Only the suffering God can help.

When we realize that it was our own sin that condemned us; our own grievous faults.

Only the suffering God can help.



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Dietrich Bonhoeffer– browse all of my writings on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and related works (keep scrolling through for more links).



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Really Recommended Posts 7/11/14- Inerrancy, Men, a young earth?, and more!

postI’m pretty excited about this latest round-up of posts which I have gathered for your reading pleasure. Let me know what you think in the comments. If you liked someone else’s article, be sure to drop a comment, because those keep we bloggers going! Thanks for reading.

The Bad Boys, The Secret, and Apologetics Teams in Churches– A post that combines NBA with apologetics? One which encourages specialization of apologetics-oriented sites? Sign me up! This is a fantastic post and well worth your time to read. Check it out.

“What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You”: Is this book telling the truth about men?-A review and critique of a book which alleges some pretty heinous things about men and women.

Was the crucifixion a matter of child abuse?– It has been alleged more than once that the crucifixion was a kind of divine child abuse. Was it? Check out this brief post showing that this allegation is a farce.

“Best Evidences for a Young Earth” – Andrew Snelling and the Salty Seas– Does the amount of salt in the oceans provide evidence for a young earth? Check out this analysis of Andrew Snelling’s–of Answers in Genesis–argument that it is.

A Response to James White on “Defining Inerrancy”– An interesting post showing that maybe we, as Christians, should desire a place at the table such that we can offer an internal critique of non-Christian thought. Check out this thought-provoking read!

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