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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

Commemoration of Amy Carmichael, Founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship, 1951 We preach Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. ... motto of the Dohnavur Fellowship January 19, 1999 Commemoration of Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, 1095 No man can look with undivided vision at God and at the world of reality so long as God and the world are torn asunder. Try as he may, he can only let his eyes wander distractedly from one to the other. But there is a place at which God and the cosmic reality are reconciled, a place at which God and man have become one. That and that alone is what enables man to set his eyes upon God and the world at the same time. This place does not lie somewhere out beyond reality in the realm of ideas. It lies in the midst of history as a divine miracle. It lies in Jesus Christ, the reconciler of the world.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Teacher, Martyr, 1945 Not only the young Christian but also the adult Christian will complain that the Scripture reading is often too long for him, and that much therein he does not understand. To this it must be said that, for the mature Christian, every Scripture reading will be "too long", even the shortest one, [for] the Scripture is a whole, and every word, every sentence, possesses such multiple relationships with the whole that it is impossible always to keep the whole in view when listening to details. It becomes apparent, therefore, that the whole of Scripture, and hence every passage in it as well, far surpasses our understanding. It is good for us to be daily reminded of this fact.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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But when once Christ had called him, Peter had no alternative he must leave the ship and come to Him. In the end, the first step of obedience proves to be an act of faith in the word of Christ. But we should completely misunderstand the nature of grace if we were to suppose that there was no need to take the first-step, because faith was already there. Against that, we must boldly assert that the step of obedience must be taken before faith can be possible. Unless he obeys, a man cannot believe.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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When the Bible speaks of "following Jesus", it is proclaiming a discipleship which will liberate mankind from all man-made dogma, from every burden and oppression, from every anxiety and torture which afflicts the conscience. If they follow Jesus, men escape from the hard yoke of their own laws, and submit to the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ. But does this mean that we can ignore the seriousness of His command? Far from it! We can only achieve perfect liberty and enjoy fellowship with Jesus when His command, His call to absolute discipleship, is appreciated in its entirety. Only the man who follows the command of Jesus without reserve, and submits unresistingly to His yoke, finds his burden easy, and under its gentle pressure receives the power to persevere in the right way. The command of Jesus is hard -- unutterably hard -- for those who try to resist it.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Michael & All Angels When a man really gives up trying to make something out of himself -- a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman, a righteous or unrighteous man, ... when in the fullness of tasks, questions, success or ill-hap, experiences and perplexities, a man throws himself into the arms of God... then he wakes with Christ in Gethsemane. That is faith, and it is thus that he becomes a man and Christian.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Simon & Jude, Apostles The heart of man is revealed in temptation. Man knows his sin, which without temptation he could never have known; for in temptation man knows on what he has set his heart. The coming to light of sin is the work of the accuser, who thereby thinks to have won the victory. But it is sin which is become manifest which can be known, and therefore forgiven. Thus the manifestation of sin belongs to the salvation plan of God with man, and Satan must serve this plan.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Mary Magdalen, Apostle to the Apostles 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 Bartholomew the Apostle 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 Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, 1095 The truth is that so long as we hold both sides of the proposition together they contain nothing inconsistent with orthodoxy, but as soon as one is divorced from the other, it is bound to prove a stumbling-block. "Only those who believe obey" is what we say to that part of a believer's soul which obeys, and "only those who obey believe" is what we say to that part of the soul of the obedient which believes. If the first half of the proposition stands alone, the believer is exposed to the danger of cheap grace, which is another word for damnation. If the second half stands alone, the believer is exposed to the danger of salvation through works, which is also another word for damnation.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597 Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship: 1. the ministry of holding one's tongue Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words... Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him. This prohibition does not include the personal word of advice and guidance. But to speak about a brother is forbidden, even under the cloak of help and goodwill; for it is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred among brothers creeps in when it is seeking to create mischief.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship: 2. the ministry of meekness He who would learn to serve must first learn to think little of himself... Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself. He will know that his own wisdom reached the end of its tether when Jesus forgave him. He will know that it is good for his own will to be broken in the encounter with his neighbor... But not only my neighbor's will, but also his honor is more important than mine. The desire for one's own honor hinders faith. One who seeks his own honor is no longer seeking God and his neighbor. What does it matter if I suffer injustice? Would I not have deserved even worse punishment from God, if He had not dealt with me according to His mercy?

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship: 3. the ministry of listening The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them... Listening can be a greater service than speaking... One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others. Anyone who thinks his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies... We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship: 4. the ministry of helpfulness Active helpfulness means, initially, simple assistance in trifling, external matters. There is a multitude of these things wherever people live together. Nobody is too good for the meanest service... We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps -- reading the Bible. When we do that, we pass by the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart our path to show us that not our way, but God's way must be done.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543 Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship: 5. the ministry of bearing "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). Thus the law of Christ is a law of bearing. Bearing means forbearing and sustaining... The Christian must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. It is, first of all, the freedom of the other person that is a burden to the Christian. The freedom of the other person includes all that we mean by a person's nature, individuality, endowment. It also includes his weaknesses and oddities, which are such a trial to our patience, everything that produces frictions, conflicts, and collisions among us. Then, there is the abuse of that freedom that becomes a burden for the Christian. In sin, fellowship with God and with his brother are broken. To cherish no contempt for the sinner but rather to prize the privilege of bearing him means not to have to give him up as lost, to be able to accept him, to preserve fellowship with him through forgiveness... The service of forgiveness is rendered by one to the others daily. It occurs, without words, in the intercessions for one another. He who is bearing others knows that he himself is being borne.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship: 6. the ministry of proclaiming Where Christians live together the time must ultimately come when in some crisis one person will have to declare God's Word and will to another. It is inconceivable that the things that are of utmost importance to each individual should not be spoken by one to another. It is unchristian consciously to deprive another of the one decisive service we can render to him... The more we learn to allow others to speak the Word to us, to accept humbly and gratefully even severe reproaches and admonitions, the more free and objective will we be in speaking ourselves. The humble person will stick to truth and love. He will stick to the Word of God and let it lead him to his brother... Reproof is unavoidable. God's Word demands it when a brother falls into open sin. Where defection from God's Word in doctrine or life imperils the fellowship... the word of admonition and rebuke must be ventured. Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin. It is a ministry of mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine fellowship, when we allow nothing but God's Word to stand between us, judging and succoring.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship: 7. the ministry of authority Jesus made authority in the fellowship dependent upon brotherly service (Mark 10:43). Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out. Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community; indeed, it poisons the Christian community... Genuine authority realizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority... The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren... Pastoral authority can be attained only by the servant of Jesus who seeks no power of his own, who himself is a brother among brothers to the authority of the Word.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Teacher, Martyr, 1945 There remains for us only the very narrow way, often extremely difficult to find, of living every day as though it were our last, and yet living in faith and responsibility as though there were to be a great future.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God, either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God, too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there will be nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words ... never really speaking to others.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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If temptation were really what natural man and moral man understand by it, namely, testing of their own strength -- whether their vital or their moral or even their Christian strength -- in resistance, on the enemy, then it is true that Christ's prayer would be incomprehensible. For that life is won only from death and the good only from the evil is a piece of thoroughly worldly knowledge which is not strange to the Christian. But all this has nothing to do with the temptation of which Christ speaks. It simply does not touch the reality which is meant here. The temptation of which the whole Bible speaks does not have to do with the testing of my strength, for it is of the very essence of temptation in the Bible that all my strength -- to my horror, and without my being able to do anything about it -- is turned against me; really all my powers, including my good and pious powers (the strength of my faith), fall into the hands of the enemy power and are now led into the field against me. Before there can be any testing of my powers, I have been robbed of them.

Christianity Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Feast of Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, 461 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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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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The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.

Miscellaneous Quotes, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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