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 Dietrich Bonhoeffer Quotes
47 Famous Quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
2/4/1906 - 4/9/1945
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About Dietrich Bonhoeffer

One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.

Obedience Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.

Achievement Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.

Advice / experience / wisdom Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Commemoration of Richard Rolle of Hampole, Writer, Hermit, Mystic, 1349 We may suffer the sins of our brother; we do not need to judge. This is a mercy for the Christian; for when does sin ever occur in the community that he must not examine and blame himself for his own unfaithfulness in prayer and intercession, his lack of brotherly service, of fraternal reproof and encouragement -- indeed, for his own personal sin and spiritual laxity, by which he has done injury to himself, the fellowship, and the brethren? Since every sin of a member burdens and indicts the whole community, the congregation rejoices, in the midst of all the pain and the burden that the brother's sin inflicts, that it has the privilege of bearing and forgiving.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Commemoration of Jack Winslow, Missionary, Evangelist, 1974 Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when He called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone, you are rejecting Christ's call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called.... Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called -- the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Commemoration of Helena, Protector of the Faith, 330 The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death -- we give over our lives to death. Since this happens at the beginning of the Christian life, the cross can never be merely a tragic ending to an otherwise happy religious life. When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther's, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time -- death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at His call. That is why the rich young man was so loath to follow Jesus, for the cost of his following was the death of his will. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and His call are necessarily our death and our life.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Above all, it is not necessary that we should have any unexpected, extraordinary experiences in meditation. This can happen, but if it does not, it is not a sign that the meditation period has been useless. Not only at the beginning, but repeatedly, there will be times when we feel a great spiritual dryness and apathy, an aversion, even an inability to meditate. We dare not be balked by such experiences. Above all, we must not allow them to keep us from adhering to our meditation period with great patience and fidelity. It is, therefore, not good for us to take too seriously the many untoward experiences we have with ourselves in meditation. It is here that our old vanity and our illicit claims upon God may creep in by a pious detour, as if it were our right to have nothing but elevating and fruitful experiences, and as if the discovery of our own inner poverty were quite beneath our dignity. With that attitude, we shall make no progress.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Teacher, Martyr, 1945 It is not experience of life but experience of the Cross that makes one a worthy hearer of confessions. The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of men. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother, I can dare to be a sinner.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Teacher, Martyr, 1945 Furthermore, [the unchristian environment] is the place where we find out whether the Christian's meditation has led him into the unreal, from which he awakens in terror when he returns to the workaday world, or whether it has led him into a real contact with God, from which he emerges strengthened and purified. Has it transported him for a moment into a spiritual ecstasy that vanishes when everyday life returns, or has it lodged the Word of God so securely and deeply in his heart that it holds and fortifies him, impelling him to active love, to obedience, to good works? Only the day can decide.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely, c.678 Man is challenged to participate in the sufferings of God at the hands of a godless world. He must therefore plunge himself into the life of a godless world, without attempting to gloss over its ungodliness with a veneer of religion or trying to transfigure it. He must live a 'worldly' life and so participate in the suffering of God. He may live a worldly life as one emancipated from all false religions and obligations. To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to cultivate some particular form of asceticism (as a sinner, a penitent, or a saint), but to be a man. It is not some religious act which makes a Christian what he is, but participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.

Inspirational Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Benedict of Nursia, Father of Western Monasticism, c.550 In a Christian community, everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable. A community which allows unemployed members to exist within it will perish because of them. It will be well, therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that he may know in hours of doubt that he, too, is not useless and unusable. Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of the fellowship.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist The law of Christ, which it is our duty to fulfill, is the bearing of the cross. Thus the call to follow Christ always means a call to share the work of forgiving men their sins. Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian's duty to bear.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Teacher, Martyr, 1945 During the last year or so, I have come to appreciate the "worldliness" of Christianity as never before. The Christian is not a homo religiosus but a man, pure and simple, just as Jesus became man... It is only by living completely in this world that one learns to believe. One must abandon every attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, a converted sinner, a churchman, a righteous man, or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one... This is what I mean by worldliness -- taking life in one's stride, with all its duties and problems, its successes and failures, its experiences and helplessness... How can success make us arrogant or failure lead us astray, when we participate in the sufferings of God by living in this world?

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, Missionary, 687 The Church is her true self only when she exists for humanity. As a fresh start, she should give away all her endowments to the poor and needy. The clergy should live solely on the free-will offerings of their congregations, or possibly engage in some secular calling.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Alban, first Martyr of Britain, c.209 After all, we are told, our salvation has already been accomplished by the grace of God... It was unkind to speak to men like this, for such a cheap offer could only leave them bewildered and tempt them from the way to which they had been called by Christ. Having laid hold on cheap grace, they were barred forever from the knowledge of costly grace. Deceived and weakened, men felt that they were strong now that they were in possession of this cheap grace -- whereas they had in fact lost the power to live the life of discipleship and obedience. The word of cheap grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Life together under the Word will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society... but rather where it understands itself as being a part of the one, holy, catholic, Christian Church, where it shares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles of the whole Church. Every principle of selection, every separation connected with it that is not necessitated quite objectively by common work, local conditions, or family connections is of the greatest danger to a Christian community. When the way of intellectual or spiritual selection is taken, the human element always insinuates itself and robs the fellowship of its spiritual power and its effectiveness for the Church, and drives it into sectarianism.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Teacher, Martyr, 1945 The deceit, the lie of the devil consists of this, that he wishes to make man believe that he can live without God's Word. Thus he dangles before man's fantasy a kingdom of faith, of power, and of peace, into which only he can enter who consents to the temptations; and he conceals from men that he, as the devil, is the most unfortunate and unhappy of beings, since he is finally and eternally rejected by God.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of James the Apostle It is not in our life that God's help and presence must still be proved, but rather God's presence and help have been demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus Christ. It is, in fact, more important for us to know what God did to Israel and to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Paulinus, Bishop of York, Missionary, 644 The first service one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love of God begins in listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God's love for us that He not only gives us His Word but lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980 Commemoration of Paul Couturier, Priest, Ecumenist, 1953 Every moment and every situation challenges us to action and to obedience. We have literally no time to sit down and ask ourselves whether so-and-so is our neighbor or not. We must get into action and obey -- we must behave like a neighbor to him. But perhaps this shocks you. Perhaps you still think you ought to think out beforehand and know what you ought to do. To that, there is only one answer. You can only know and think about it by actually doing it. It is no use asking questions; for it is only through obedience that you come to learn the truth.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Dominic, Priest, Founder of the Order of Preachers, 1221 It is the fellowship of the Cross to experience the burden of the other. If one does not experience it, the fellowship he belongs to is not Christian. If any member refuses to bear that burden, he denies the law of Christ.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, Martyr, 258 Commemoration of Ninian, Bishop of Galloway, Apostle to the Picts, c. 430 Commemoration of Edward Bouverie Pusey, Priest, tractarian, 1882 If the heart is devoted to the mirage of the world, to the creature instead of the Creator, the disciple is lost... However urgently Jesus may call us, His call fails to find access to our hearts. Our hearts are closed, for they have already been given to another.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Maundy Thursday Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Teacher, Martyr, 1945 What do I mean by "interpret in a religious sense"? In my view, that means to speak on the one hand metaphysically, and on the other individualistically. Neither of these is relevant to the Bible message or to the man of today. Is it not true to say that individualistic concern for personal salvation has almost completely left us all? Are we not really under the impression that there are more important things than bothering about such a matter? (Perhaps not more important than the matter itself, but more than bothering about it). I know it sounds pretty monstrous to say that. But is it not, at bottom, even Biblical?... It is not with the next world that we are concerned, but with this world as created and preserved and set subject to laws and atoned for and made new. What is above the world is, in the Gospel, intended to exist for this world -- I mean that not in the anthropocentric sense of liberal, pietistic, ethical theology, but in the Bible sense of the creation and of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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We are separated from one another by an unbridgeable gulf of otherness and strangeness which resists all our attempts to overcome it by means of natural association or emotional or spiritual union. There is no way from one person to another. However loving and sympathetic we try to be, however sound our psychology however frank and open our behaviour we cannot penetrate the incognito of the other man, for there are no direct relationships, not even between soul and soul. Christ stands between us, and we can only get into touch with our neighbors through Him.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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