October 30, 2012

Bonhoeffer in the Valley

I arrived, the leaves have changed, and now it is cold.  I have been here for just over five weeks.  Over that time there have been several things of note.  The first of which, I finally finished the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer I was reading.

I finished Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Propher, Spy by Eric Metaxas.  Amazing read about a remarkable man.  For those who have not read books giving the details of the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, read it.  For those who enjoy being a well-read layman of the church, read it.  If this is the first time you've ever heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, do yourself a favor.  Read it.

Metaxas is a Christian thinker writing about a Christian thinker, but he does not over-intellectualize DB's life nor does he soak it in so much Christianese that it is unreadable to those without a NIV and the latest edition of Strong's.  If you don't know what I mean by Christianese is, walk up to me when you've got a spare week and ask me my thoughts on the several versions of predestination are.

I loved reading about DB's life because he was a very real man.  The way he presented his ideas was not always kind to his image when his saying were taken out of the context of their time and audience; he was prone to speak to a very specific issue with very specific got creative with how these ideas were presented.

He read the Bible and found things that other Protestants had been ignoring since the schism, and held to these things and was often stared at for his funny proceedings.  While I don't think any one person can "get it right," he was tuned in with God and His Word and that was expressed through his unique way of thinking as DB.  The reasons behind his teaching methods and preaching style were to glorify and honor God to the fullest; the same reasons put inside someone else could easily produce much different results (varying in style but not in honor).

Some of the most exciting stories about him come from the records of the people he was around.  Those who observed him in prison were amazed at how he took it all perfectly in stride, this man who had been quite high-born, well-to-do and intellectual.  His students witnessed the love of God that was in him, the humility and love for the teaching of the Word of God.  When he wrote a book on ethics, he began by saying it was not a book on eithics; e.g., not a book on how to be a good person.  That question was irrelevant, he said; the true question of "ethics" is "What is the will of God?"

Another point of DB's that he lived out was breaking down this notion of so many things in the world being apart from God.  Of course sin is, and the world is broken.  The beauty of art and nature and music and human relationship, though, to DB all pointed gloriously to their maker.  In that sense he had a wide definition of worship and an appreciation for all the beautiful things in this world that God created.  It was this philosophy that he pitted against the day's version of dualism.

Also, his last name means "Bean Farmer."

1 comment:

  1. Huge fan of his "living together" - read it and had it read to us at l'abri england. It was even more powerful in the context of community. Also want to read his "cost of discipleship." too much to read, too little time.