Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Cost of Discipleship Cover to page 39 Instigator: John

Okay, a few ground rules.

Every two weeks I will put an entry out here for that session of discussion. Then by the specified date the instigator should put his thoughts out there as a comment to the entry. (This is the first entry.)

We have some diverse opinions in our group. It is important to be respectful of all perspectives. Obviously no personal attacks. It is great to give differing views just be respectful in presentation. Remember on-line statements may sound more harsh than in person. So, bear that in mind. Rather than saying "I think you are wrong" in response you may want to say something like "you make an interesting point. However, I look at it this way." Definitely you should not say something like "anyone who thinks that way should die a thousand deaths." or something like that. Finally, one the reverse side of things also remember that on line communication can sound harsher than intended. So please take any responses in the most positive light.


John said...

Cover: I liked it.
I did not care for the Also from Simon and Schuster page.
The title page was nice.
The page with the copyright information was interesting. Two things stood out. First Bonhoeffer's age at death was 38 or 39. That is a very short life. Younger than all our participants I believe. Of course he was put to death at the order of Himmler a few days before he would have been freed by Allied forces for his role in the German resistance. (Some of this comes out in the Memoir.)
Second it looks like this was published in 1937, over 70 years ago and when he was about 31. So, he was young and probably idealistic. I think that he attended school in Germany, England, and I think he went to Columbia during which time he attended a black church in Harlem.
The table of contents was well organized and serviceable.
I didn't get much out of the Forward.
The Memoir was interesting. His ancestors where intellectual rabblerousers. Psychiatrists and theologians and such. His brother in law was martyred as was I think a sister and brother. The brother in law Hans von Dahnanyi is an interesting case. Their son is Christoph von Dahnanyi now is a world renowned orchestra conductor. I think it is an interesting choice for the son of German resistance martyrs.
Bonhoeffer was remarkably helpful to his fellow prisoners.
I thought the top of page 25 was interesting. He seemed to feel that he was so interwoven in his relationship with Christ that his suffering was not important compared with or related to the suffering of Christ.
Top of page 28 "As he used to say: it is not only my task to look after victims of madmen who drive a motorcar in a crowded street but to do all in my power to stop them driving at all." explains his participation in the Hitler assassination attempt.
I don't buy on page 31 and 32 that A) Bonhoeffer's death was Gods way to expiate the crimes of the Nazis and B) that self sacrifice is the highest fulfillment of the human being. First, I don't think God sacrifices individuals for other peoples ill behavior and second if every human being gave the ultimate sacrifice we'd all be dead and the complete destruction of the human race does not seem like a good goal to me.
The Introduction really whet the appetite. His one question (followed by some related questions) "What can the call to discipleship mean today for the worker, the business man, the squire, and the soldier? Does it not lead to an intolerable dichotomy between our lives as workers in the world and our lives as Christians?" and so on. I think these are intriguing questions and I am looking forward to seeing what he has to say about them.

totally not Matt said...

You suck!
I can't believe how wrong you are!!!11!!!11

John said...

Totally not Matt,

I really appreciate your perspective. However, I believe you have given us an excellent example of what not to do. Thank you for fine contribution. This reminds me of my favorite Chinese proverb. (Actually I have know idea of it is Chinese but if you say it is it makes it sound more important.)

No one is completely worthless. They can always be used as a bad example.

Eric said...

I agree that God doesn't sacrifice individuals for the sins of others, except in the case of Jesus. But in Jesus case he gave himself as a sacrifice willingly. With Jesus' sacrifice there is no longer any sacrifice that needs to be made. Nor is there anyone worthy to be sacrificed whose death can atone for the sins of man.

Now when it comes giving the "ultimate" sacrifice and sacrificing ones own life for another, it brings to mind John 15:13 where Jesus says "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Yet this is at best a temporal solution to the situation. Because in the the end whoever it was that you sacrificed you life for is going to die anyway, someday. But still we as humans have something in us that compels us to be willing to die for one another. What father wouldn't if given the opportunity, sacrifice is own life to spare the life of one of this children. What compels a person to run into a burning house, risking their own life, to save someone they may not even know. I read an article in the paper the other day where a person drowned trying to save a dog. I believe in the end that what compels us is the love of God, believers and non-believers alike, stamped on our souls when God created us in his image.

However, this is not to say that we should go around willy nilly looking for or making up ways to sacrifice our lives. As the Apostle Paul said in Philippians, For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. So it seems to me that we should go about figuring out how to live for Christ and then let Him take care of the dying.

John said...

My plan is not to respond to every comment but I'm on so I thought I would chime in. I liked two things in particular about what Eric said. 1) I liked his point about the willingness to sacrifice for others as being a feature of being created in the image of God. I think that makes a lot of sense. My theological views have changed greatly over time but humans being created in God's image resonates with me and is foundational. 2) I think the idea that we should focus on severing Christ and let him take care of the dying holds up pretty well.

Dad said...

After reading the Memoir I decided that I am a WIMP!!

This may sound like old history to you, but I was 10 years old when Bonhoeffer died. I remember listening to the War news on the radio every night as a child.
Bonhoffer was born into a priveleged enviornment and could have had a very comfortable life in acadameia in England or the U.S. He chose instead to follow what He considered God's will for his life and was probably much more influential as a result. One comment that I found interesting was that the war started as an ideological war and ended as a Nationalist war. Political authority had become moraly corrupt, hence there will be some who will resist.
The introduction poses many questions which I asume will be addressed in the body of the book. The big question that I saw was, What would Jesus want us as individuals to BE or DO.
As I read the Memoir and Introduction my mind tended to go off on a number of rabbit trails, hence I found the book very tought provoking.

Thomas said...

Okay, I'm getting in late to the game. I forgot to order the book. But it just came today. So I'm going to dig in and hopefully post soon. Sorry for the delay.

Thomas said...

Okay, Eric and John both make good points. Our focus should be on how to follow Jesus and what that means, and less on things that are out of our control and should really be left in God's hands.

I think that's what D.B. was getting at in the intro. That we shouldn't let outside forces and inner forces prevent us from living for Christ.“Does not our preaching contain too much of our own opinions and convictions, and too little of Jesus Christ?..... Let us try to get away from the poverty and pettiness of our own little convictions and problems and seek...Jesus”(38).

Those lines stuck out to me because the "Superstructures" as BD called them and our own attitudes and prejudices can often be barriers to seeking the Word of Jesus.

That's my two cents for now.