This tag is associated with 2 posts

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 2/19/16- Textual Criticism, Lent,and Jesus on Evil

postAnother round of Really Recommended Posts for you, dear readers! This week, we have a biblical scholar from the throw out pile, voting in Lent Madness, the problem of evil and Jesus’ response, textual criticism, and women in combat. Be sure to let the authors know what you thought, and let me know your responses as well!

The Biblical Scholar from the Throw-Out Box– “If [Katharine Bushnell] had been a man, every single contemporary Bible scholar writing on gender would have had to reckon with her findings. As it was, she was a woman, and her work was ignored.” Here’s a post on

Lent Madness– Vote for different theologians throughout history in brackets to determine the winner of this year’s Lent Madness. Who will wear the golden halo this year?

Jesus’ Answer to the Problem of Evil & the Unfairness of God– What did Jesus have to say about the problem of evil? Here is a post looking into this topic in ways that might make us uncomfortable.

Debunking Silly Statements in Greg Gilbert’s Debunking Silly Statements About the Bible: An Exercise in Biblical Transmission– Some clarifications about textual criticism are found in this post that addresses some common misunderstandings that Christian scholars hold about the field.

The Bible and Combat Women- Does the Bible forbid women in combat roles? Does this go against gender roles entirely? Check out this commentary on the issue, and see also my post on the subject.


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