Why Bonhoeffer Still Matters: Questions and Quotes

9824511244_64788efed3_kImmanuel will discuss the impact of Dietrich Bonhoeffer during our upcoming class, The Timelessness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, September 25, October 2, 9, & 23 at 9:00 am. Join us as we explore the life and writings of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The 2016 Presidential election has brought a renewed interest in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and writing. Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise. Most election years bring (more than) a few thought-pieces and editorials drawing connections between current candidates and Bonhoeffer’s well-known context and work.

This month, Todd Starnes paraphrased an (alleged) Bonhoeffer quote in his address to the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. Likewise, Michael Gerson turned to Bonhoeffer in his editorial on hope during the presidential primaries.

A German Lutheran pastor and opponent of Hitler, Bonhoeffer was no stranger to politics himself. But there is more to Bonhoeffer’s writing and witness than interesting parallels to modern elections. His work reminds us of the power of Christian faith and conviction lived out, as well as its costs. Similarly, his critique of religion and enduring vision of a “religionless Christianity” continue to disturb and inspire people of faith today.

As Bonhoeffer is quoted (and misquoted) this election cycle, I hope you will struggle to see beyond the garments of strained correspondence. Instead, let’s remember the radical and illusive Bonhoeffer that still challenges and consoles.

As you do, here are a few quotes from Bonhoeffer’s writing that both disrupt and nourish my spiritual life:

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.”-Life Together

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” -Letters and Papers from Prison

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them.” –Life Together

“The Church is the Church only when it exists for others … not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.” -Letters and Papers from Prison

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” –The Cost of Discipleship


Billy Head ShotBilly Kluttz works as the Evening Service Coordinator at Immanuel (5:30 pm on Sundays). Originally from North Carolina, he is a recent graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary. He loves college basketball, country and folk music, and all things southern. Contact him at bkluttz@ipcmclean.org.



Featured photo by dierk schaefer. Photo license available here.