Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Suffered the Cost of His Theology

On that Low Sunday of April 9th, 1945 - less than a month before General Patton's Allied armies closed in and overthrew the Nazi regime, Bonhoeffer was taken to the notorious concentration camp at Flossenbürg. Several of his friends from the Resistance were already there, being tried and executed - by special order of the High Command. The final testimony of Bonhoeffer's faith and courage was given by a camp doctor who would never quite understand that what he witnessed at the scaffold, was the costly application of a man's theology. (Ben Alex, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Pastor Who Followed Christ to the Cross, illustrated by Musio Cosimo. Waynesboro, GA: OM Literature, 1996, pp 46-47.)

This evening I read John Piper's brief post on Bonhoeffer which informed me that today is the 64th memorial of his death. I Twittered a quick note about this and sat down to browse through a book that was sent to me by the publicist at Augsburg Books titled 40-day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is a wonderful book to use devotionally, but I was interested to see what was providentially included for the 9th day. For Day 9, Ron Klug, the editor, chose a portion of Bonhoeffer's comments on the second Beatitude (Mathew 5:4). Here is an excerpt from today's reading:
The community of disciples does not shake off suffering, as if they had nothing to do with it. Instead they bear it. In doing so, they give witness to their connection with the people around them. At the same time this indicates that they do not arbitrarily seek suffering, that they do not withdraw into willful contempt for the world. Instead, they bear what is laid upon them and what happens to them in discipleship for the sake of Jesus Christ. ... The disciples bear the suffering laid on them only by the power of him who bears all suffering on the cross. As bearers of suffering, they stand in communion with the Crucified. (p. 36)
This selection is taken from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 4. Minneapolis Fortress Press, 2001; p. 104. You can also find it in Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, New York: Touchstone, 1995; part II, chapter 6, pp. 105-14.