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Archive for July, 2013

Taking a Break

I’m preparing for major surgery on Friday, July 12, and will not be at my computer before July 20 at the earliest.

Mike

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A third letter from Bonhoeffer, written in April of 1936, reveals still more about this great change which had taken place about four years earlier. It was written to his brother in law Rudiger Schleicher, husband of Ursula Bonhoeffer and father of Renate, who became the wife of Eberhard Bethge. The letter can be found in Bethge’s biography at page 206.

 Is it . . .intelligible to you if I say I am not at any point willing to sacrifice the Bible as this strange word of God, that on the contrary, I ask with all my strength what God is trying to say to us through it? Every other place outside the Bible has become too uncertain for me. I fear that there I will only bump into my own divine Doppelgänger. . . .
    And I want to say something to you personally: since I learned to read the Bible this way – which has not been long at all – it becomes more wonderful to me with each day. . . .
    You wouldn’t believe how happy one is to find the way back from the wrong track of some theologies to this elemental thing.

Dietrich recognized that much of what passes for Bible study is merely projecting our own beliefs onto the Scripture, so that we end up creating a Bible which is but a mirror image of what we already believe and what our own attitudes and values are.

Rather than seeking in the Bible confirmation of what he wants to believe, Bonhoeffer says he wants to hear “what God is trying to say to us through it.” The Bible for Dietrich is not a magic book that has God’s personal self-revelation woven into its very words and letters (as the Fundamentalists seem to think). Nor is it just an old record of yesterday’s religious activity (as the Far Left tends to treat it). Instead, it is more like a window through which we can see the character of God and – just as importantly – through which God can see us. This makes for an imprecise definition of the Bible as the living Word of God but sharpens immeasurably our sense that in dealing with Scripture, we are being met by the living God.

As he put it in Life Together, written shortly after this letter, we are to address ourselves to Scripture until it addresses us. We examine the text deeply and extensively and prayerfully until we come to sense that it is, in effect, examining us, turning the spotlight back on us.

We do not know Dietrich Bonhoeffer until we grasp how deeply he was devoted to Scripture and with what great personal vulnerability he approached it every day for the final 13 years of his life. He sought with great determination to hear the voice of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in the Word of God.  That is a way of reading which can include but goes far, far beyond merely studying the Bible in order to understand it.

May you and I listen for our Lord’s voice with the same burning desire to hear and to heed.

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