Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Vol. 5): Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, edited by Geifrey B. Kelly. Translated by Daniel W. Bloesch and James H. Burtness. Fortress, 232 pp., $30.00. In August 1996 the German authorities announced that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was no longer regarded in law as a traitor. This somewhat bizarre declaration says more …
A brief biographical summary covering Bonhoeffer’s family, education, pastoral service, teaching appointments, ecumenical service, the evangelical opposition to Hitler, activities in the German resistance to Hitler, and his imprisonment and eventual execution. There follows a sketch of how different authors have viewed Bonhoeffer, including John A. T. Robinson, Paul M. VanBuren, William Hamilton, Gerhard Ebeling, Eberhard Bethge, Jurgen Moltmann, Jurgen Weissbach, John Godsey, William Kuhns and William B. Gould.
This study seeks to elaborate a Bonhoefferian corrective of Marx’s critique of religion. Whereas Marx completely abandoned the concept of God by his critique of religion, Bonhoeffer tried to reinterpret the concept of God so that it would be understandable to the autonomous modern person living in a "world come of age".
An evaluation of the deeper dimensions of Marx’s critique of religion as these might be applied in the fulfillment of Marxist programme, and a theological evaluation of Marx’s critique of religion and how much the church can appropriate from this critique.
A summary and an examination of the implications of Bonhoeffer’s theology for the church’s life today. How Bonhoefferian theology functions as a challenge to Marxist philosophy. Bonhoeffer reminds us that it is Christ, and Christ alone, who validates the world of responsible secular people. The meaning of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is that God and the world can no longer be separated.
By examining Marx’s critique of religion optimistically and without prejudice we find that Marxists and Christians can agree, in spite of several disagreements, that both are ultimately concerned for true humanity, especially for the rights of the poor and needy, the hungry and hopeless; both could agree that they strive to be “true to the earth”.
The question of continuity and discontinuity of Marx’s thought has been a major issue of debate in the study of Marxism and must be resolved or any study of Marxism will not be fruitful. Paulose holds the view that, despite a few minor variations, the ‘young’ and the ‘old’ Marx are essentially one and the same, and that there is a continuity of thought in Marx’s writings.
In perhaps his most difficult work entitled The Communion of Saints Bonhoeffer attempts to define sociology and the church by relating sociology and theology to each other. This involves a definition of the Christian concept of persons related to other persons and to God, and involves the concept of sin as breaking the relationship of man to man and man to God. He then turns to a significant study of the nature of the church as not just another organization but the Body of Christ.
Marx’s criticism of religion can only be understood against the background of Hegelian philosophy and also of the anthropology of Feuerbach, which it extends and supersedes.
Bonhoeffer explores the act-being problem. He concludes that revelation as act and revelation as being are inadequate alone and must somehow be synthesized. His proposed solution lies in seeing the church as a unity of act and being. Thus revelation is not the past remembered as in scripture, but exists presently and continually in the church and “the church is the Christ of the present. . . Christ existing as community.”
A review of the religious influences Marx had as a child at home and during his school days. Some of the essays he wrote for his Abitur, the German school leaving examination, permit us to watch his later ideas being formed at an earlier age.
Since Christology is fundamental to Bonhoeffer’s thought, the Word of God is not an idea but a person and is to be studied in the worshiping community. Bonhoeffer deals with the early heresies condemned at the Council of Chalcedon,which he uses as a touchstone for his Christology.
Bonhoeffer’s popular book Life Together deals with the practical relations of the church’s life in Christ, including his concept of Christian community; how the community should worship by always including scripture, hymns and prayer both individual and common; personal worship that includes meditation, prayer and intercession; the problems of the church that require learning control of the tongue, meekness, listening, forbearing and proclaming.
Theoretically Marx does not see the destruction of religion as an important aim. The disappearance of religion will be the normal outcome of rational thinking and rational living. Man’s ultimate task is to create a world in which authentic humanity is guaranteed and gradually achieved in the material, moral, cultural and intellectual spheres.
Marx’s critique of religion should be considered as a symbol of our lack of prophetic spirit. Since Marx directs his attacks on religion in the name of man, against the alienation of man from his own potentialities and purposes, it constitutes, for that reason, the greatest challenge to Christianity in our time.
Discipleship as answering Jesus’ call to follow him by being radically obedient to the commands of Christ, particularly as they are found in the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. Discipleship in the world today means following a living Jesus as he is proclaimed in the preaching of the church and in the Sacraments of Baptism and Communion.
By the phrase, “world come of age,” Bonhoeffer means two things: 1. The large measure of control given man over nature by the discovery of the scientific method. 2. The awareness that the modern man is no longer under either the tutelage or the control of ‘god’, but is called to freedom and responsibility.
The uniqueness of Christian ethics lies in its insistence on the centrality of Jesus Christ in discerning the will of God for doing what is good and not evil. It is concerned not with rules but of actions directed by our life in Christ. Issues of conscience, responsibility, freedom and obedience are discussed in the light of the situation in Germany when this book was written. It issues in what can only be called a situational ethic for a crisis situation.
Bonhoeffer developed his thinking with a firm belief in the Incarnation and the Cross, and consequently, in the potential of a renewed humanity. This belief led him to a wholehearted recognition of the world come of age, to a criticism of religion, and to an attempt to interpret Biblical and theological concepts in a non-religious language.
The most provocative of Bonhoeffer’s books was his Letters and Papers from Prison that included phrases like “religionless Christianity,” “Jesus as the man for other,” and “the God who forsakes us.” He declares that the evil of the Nazi period threw ethical concepts into conflict. In asserting that “we are moving toward a completely religionless time” and that religion is opposed to being Christian, he declares that we must live as persons who manage our lives in a kind of Christian worldliness, a Christianity without religion, but certainly not Christianity without God.
To interpret the fundamental message of the Gospel – faith in the incarnate, crucified and risen God — to the man come of age was the mission of Bonhoeffer.
Bonhoeffer’s significance certainly includes the man himself who was a hero of faith in the struggle against Nazi tyranny. In evaluating his theological contributions, it is important to balance the seemingly radical statements of the "later Bonhoeffer" with the "whole Bonhoeffer" found in authors like Eberhard Bethge. Bonhoeffer’s theology made several contributions, particularly in the area of ecclesiology and the ecumenical movement, ethics and the role of the Christian in the modern world, spiritual life especially in theological education, and Christology as the center of doctrine.
(ENTIRE BOOK) A helpful understanding of the major themes in Bonhoeffer’s works that cover not only theology, philosophy, Christology, ethics and sociology, but also the mystique surrounding his opposition to the Nazi state, leading to his execution.
People my age have recently been encountering this question: How did you experience May 8, 1945 (the day the war ended in Europe)? The question is not about our health that day, or whether we were on the front or already prisoners of war. The question is whether we experienced that day as a liberation …
Who are the thinkers that have shaped Christian theology in our time? This series tries to answer that question by providing a reliable guide to the ideas of the men who have significantly charted the theological seas of our century. In the current revival of theology, these books will give a new generation the opportunity …
(ENTIRE BOOK) A brilliant analysis of Bonhoeffer’s theology as a corrective of Karl Marx’s Critique of Religion.
The possibility of undergirding the positive criticisms of Marx with a sound theology is explored by Bishop Paulose. This exploration is in the nature of an analytical study of Bonhoeffer’s theology.
An invitation to do a short work on Bonhoeffer was an opportunity for me to dig deeper into this brilliant theologian. This work will not command the attention of the devotee of Bonhoeffer. It is designed to give the reader a quick snapshot view of the man, his life and thought. If I have succeeded …
Bishop Dr. Paulose found several areas where Christianity and Marxism could cooperate for the creation of a new world order. He was critical of Christianity for preferring to keep the status quo intact and making people slaves to outdated dogmas, customs and practices that never addressed and represented the aspirations and struggles.
Who am I? They often tell me I stepped from my cell’s confinement Calmly, cheerfully, firmly, Like a squire from his country-house. Who am I? They often tell me I used to speak to my warders Freely and friendly and clearly, As though it were mine to command. Who am I? They also tell me …