I am quite thankful to be able to read about a man who held to such great faith and to the Truths of the Bible amid the challenges that Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced. He grew up in with parents of prestige, especially his father, who was a scientist. He also grew up in an intellectual neighborhood and studied under some great minds. He had great respect for his father and his teachers, even though he disagreed with their conclusions in their theology. He was able to think for himself and come to some great theological and biblical conclusions that truly shaped his life and the way he lived it.
He also faced some great social and political turmoil, much similar to what the Church faces today. Preaching the true Gospel was not popular socially, and, in spite of Germany’s rich theological past, became politically incorrect as well, and eventually got him put in jail, then into a concentration camp, and eventually killed.
In spite of all of these things, Bonhoeffer unapologetically preached the absolute authority, and thus the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible, and from that, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. He also encouraged his students to “feel at one with the doubter; …he did not indulge in cheap apologetics which from their lofty base fire upon the battlements of natural science. We must think with the doubter, …even doubt with him.”
I was particularly inspired by the following letter he wrote to a brother-in-law who was said to be “as theologically liberal as he was conservative.”
First of all I will confess quite simply-I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive this answer. One cannot simply readthe Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. That is because in the Bible God speaks to us. And one cannot simply think about God in one’s own strength, one has to enquire of him. Only if we seek him, will he answer us. Of course it is also possible to read the Bible like any other book, that is to say from the point of view of textual criticism, etc.; ther is nothing to be said against that. Only that that is not the method which will reveal to us the heart of the Bible, but only the surface, just as we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them, so that for days they go on lingering in our minds, simply because they are the words of a person we love; and just as these words reveal more and more of the person who said them as we go on, like Mary, “pondering them in her heart,” so it will be with the words of the Bible. Only if we will venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not will to leave us along with our questions, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible….
If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands. This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament.
And I would like to tell you now quite personally: since I have leart to read the Bible in this way-and this has not been for so very long-it becomes every day more wonderful to me. I read it in the morning and evening, often during the day as well, and every day I consider a text which I have chosen for the whole week, and try to sink deeply into it, so as really to hear what it is saying. I know that without this I could not live properly any longer.
I find this particularly inspiring because, although I had much less education, I too went through theological training in 5 years of Bible College, but it wasn’t until after that that I came to truly love and appreciate the Bible in the way Bonhoeffer described above. His words are far more eloquent than mine, but what he shared in that letter are my thoughts exactly.
I wanted to share this to encourage some and for others, to help them better understand why I think and believe the way I do.
Thanks for reading! Grace, love and peace!
*all quotes taken from ‘Bonheffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy’ by Eric Metaxas