Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bonhoeffer Reflects on Reformation Day

31 October 1943
...Today is Reformation Day, a feast that in our time can give one plenty to think about. One wonders why Luther's action had to be followed by consequences that were the exact opposite of what he intended, and that darkened the last years of his life, so that he sometimes even doubted the value of his life's work. He wanted a real unity of the Church and the West—that is, of the Christian peoples, and the consequence was the disintegration of the Church and of Europe; he wanted the "freedom of the Christian man," and the consequence was indifference and licentiousness; he wanted the establishment of a genuine secular social order from clerical privilege, and the result was insurrection, the Peasant's War, and soon afterwards the gradual dissolution of all real cohesion and order in society.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge, trans. Reginald Fuller, Frank Clarke, and John Bowen (New York: Macmillan, 1962 [1953]), 361 as cited by John G. Stackhouse, Jr. Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 145-6.
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