Prophetic Insight from Bonhoeffer

Those of you who have been around for awhile may know that I have a deep love for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and Nazi resistor who ultimately gave his life trying to stop Hitler and the Nazis. Bonhoeffer was a more than just a resistor, though. He understood the centrality of Christ and His Church in a way that few did in his day.

Right now I’m taking a deep dive into Bonhoeffer’s life. I think there’s a lot to learn there. Here’s a quote I ran across today:

There is a word that when a Catholic hears it kindles all his feelings of love and bliss; that stirs all the depths of his religious sensibility, from dread and awe of the Last Judgement to the sweetness of God’s presence; and that certainly awakens in him the feeling of home; the feeling that only a child has in relation to its mother, made up of gratitude, reverence and devoted love; the feeling that overcomes one when, after a long absence, one returns to one’s home, the home of one’s childhood.

And there is a word that to Protestants has the sound of something infinitely commonplace, more or less indifferent and superflous, that does not make their heart beat faster; something with which a sense of boredom is so often associated, or which at any rate does not lend wings to our religious feelings–and yet our fate is sealed if we are unable again to attach a new or perhaps very old meaning to it. Woe to us if that word does not become important to us soon again, does not become important in our lives.

Yes, the word to which I am referring is ‘Church’, the meaning of which we have forgotten and the nobility and greatness of which we propose to look at today.

Dietrich Bonehoeffer: A Biography by Eberhard Bethge, Page 42

Are we not in the same place today? Do we not need to recover the meaning of the word ‘Church’ and make it central and sacred in our lives?

Photo Credit: Dietrict Bonhoeffer Stained Glass,St Johannes Basilikum, Berlin SW29 by Sludge G


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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

2 responses to “Prophetic Insight from Bonhoeffer”

  1. David Bolton says :

    Great quote, Travis. Thanks for sharing that, and indeed it is true. It seems that the Reformation was a reactionary movement away from the over-emphasis on the Church and its authority in Roman Catholicism and a pendulum swing to an (over-)emphasis on the individual life of the believer and the authority of Scripture. The Protestant churches were given a Bibliocentric makeover, putting the preacher and preaching at the center, but they did not fully reform the very nature of the church back to its new covenant, New Testament roots. For Protestants (and subsequent streams) to fully love and focus on the Church from a Biblical perspective would mean they would have to question their very foundations and forms which they are fully invested in and that is just too costly a venture. So they carry on, squinting at Scripture and the Church and stay focused on individual salvation and sanctification as their primary focus. Their collective confirmation bias also salves their consciences and so the beat goes on!

    Only a radically CHRIST-centered expression of the Church will be able to remedy the eccentricities of the past and restore both the individual and the corporate to God’s full pattern and purpose. That’s how I see it at least!

    Bonhoeffer is one who saw something beyond and was a prophetic voice to that end!

    I look forward to further gleanings!

    Love and blessings!

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