Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dietrich Bonhoeffer The Cost of Dicipleship The Simplicity of the Carefree Life, The Disciple and Unbelievers, The Great Divide, The Conclusion

Instigator: Gil
Pages: 173 - 197
Sections: The Simplicity of the Carefree Life, The Disciple and Unbelievers, The Great Divide, The Conclusion
Instigation Deadline: EOD - 4/20/09
Response Deadline: EOD - 4/22/09


Dad said...

Here we go!!
These 4 chapters bring us to the end of the "Sermon on the Mount". It has been an interesting and thought provoking study.
Chapter 17 DB ascertains that nothing should be allowed to come between us and Jesus. This seems simplistic and maybe self-centered.
In one sence that is true but not to the exclusion of every thing else. God put us in this world to be in relationships with those around us (family, friends, co-workers, community, etc.). DB seems to say that we should ignore these relationships and concentrate only on Jesus. I have a hard time with that. DB acknowleges that man has some material needs but seems to individualize those needs rather than putting them in the context of group needs. We need to relate to the society that we find ourselves in whether a subsistance environment or a so-called advanced civilization. I am not very impressed with DB's reasoning in Chapter 17. Do you agree, or disagree or have I missed something?

Chapter 18 We need to be cautious about judging others. We can condemn sin but not the sinner. We need to temper our harshness. I liked some of DB's thoughts on pages 186 & 187. The only way to reach others is through prayer. Being a believer does not give us a special right to judge others.

Chapter 19 The Sermon is winding down. Jesus says that His true followers will be few in number. The world is not going to like us very much. DB does not paint a very pretty picture. Everything depends upon our relationship with Jesus. What do you think?

Chapter 20. The sermon is finished. We could understand and interpret the "Sermon on the Mount" in a thousand different ways. page 196 Did Jesus really mean for us to do what He said or just use His sayings as points of discussion? "The multitudes were astonished" Are the multitudes still astonished?

John said...

I think I agree with Dad regarding chapter 17. DB seems a little more individual focused and not community focused. This might be somewhat reflective of his youth. I know I feel I was more individual focused when I was young and feel more community focused now.

And Jesus challenges the concept of work. If we don't work will God really sustain us. It seems he takes that approach in only select situations in the Bible and it would be presumptuous on our part to assume we could not work and expect God to take care of us and our families.

If Christianity ruled the day and Christians truly did not work but just ate what we found and what God provided we would be a group of hunter gathers and we would have not made all the advances we have made. We would have never discovered America. That does not seem to good.

Chapter 18. The only marks I made in this chapter where on 186 and 187 as well. He was definitely against forcing people to be Christians. One can present the material and let the people decide. I do not know if he would approve of some of the very politically active approaches some Christians take today. Dad, I would be interested in you thoughts regarding the use of politics in advancing a Christian agenda.

Chapter 19. I think there is a lot that could be said here. Holding to the "truth" in whatever form it may take can be a lonely proposition. That is my experience/observation. I think to be willing to stick with what you believe is God's truth, Christ may be the only thing to sustain you as there will likely be some dry times.

Chapter 20. Astonished is a little strong but I feel something like astonished. I think part of the reason we struggle with the sermon on the mount is because we don't fully understand the historical context. But a big part of it is Jesus was intending to challenge our thinking in a huge way.

Dad said...

John asked the question. What do I think of using politics to advance the Christian agenda? I have thought for a long time and have been thinking about it in the last few days. I have some big questions about trying to use politics for several reasons.

First, I definitly do not think the church should be involved in politics. The church speaks with a very divided message, some believe in God, Jesus, and the inerrency of the Bible; other churches do not believe in God, Jesus, or the Bible. They have a self made religion or a very non- Christian belief. Hence a very divided message.

Second, lets look at the New Testement. Jesus and His followers did not appear to use politics to get their message across, however, politics came to the them to the extent that many were executed. They did stand up for what they believed as individuals and were not afraid to take the consequnces. Those who stand for their Christian beliefs in some of the third world countries are still pusecuted now. That could happen here in the future.

I have started to become involved in politics because I do not like what I see happening in our country and trying in a small way make a difference. I really do not like it but am doing it anyway.

Thomas said...

I agree that “for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.” I think that’s a profound statement because it really makes you think about what is really meaningful to you without rationalizing it. It kind of reminds me of Socrates or Plato (one of those two, anyway) who said “Know thyself.” The reason it reminds me of that is because it forces you to look at your treasures and then look at yourself and say is that where I really want my heart to be, or is that what I truly care about, or is that what matters to my heart of hearts, and then honestly reflect on what that treasure says about you as a person. Hmmmm….

Last week I was teaching my students about Classical and Rogerian arguments, and we also discussed logical fallacies. In light of that, I think DB is presenting a false dilemma which stems from Jesus’s “you can’t serve two masters” claim. A False dilemma forces individuals to take extreme positions because there are only two possible choices that are typically complete opposites. A famous example of this is when G. Bush said, “You are either with us or with the terrorists,” meaning if you didn’t prescribe to G. Bush’s way of fighting terrorists then you must be a terrorist yourself. I think DB is guilty of this extreme thinking that leaves out other possible ways to proceed or interpret what Jesus means.

I think Jesus’s message from the Sermon of the Mount is astonishing, lonely, and not a message most of the world would like. Love your enemies? Do good to them? Love those who persecute you? Be peculiar and unusual? Turn the other cheek? If you really think about it, it is CRAZY radical. Who in their right mind would do that? It seems to go against every instinct we have. That means I’m supposed to love Islamic extremists who want to destroy me and my country? If so, then I can’t be fighting a war against them even though they attacked us and killed thousands of Americans. I have to LOVE Osama bin Laden. Are you kidding me? On a more humorous note, does that mean I have to love Rush Limbaugh, too? It gives me the shivers. Anyway, that’s why I say it remains astonishing, simply because it is rarely accomplished and asks the individual to often act contrary to the majority. Imagine telling people that they should love Osama bin Laden and not want to see his destruction.

I guess I have two issues with promoting religion through politics. First, it seems to go against the ideals of democracy which consists of many views and beliefs that must come to some kind of consensus that is workable for most citizens. However, religious beliefs often leave no room for compromise or dissenting opinion, and sometimes are more interested in imposing their beliefs rather than upholding democratic values. The Taliban, for example. My second issue is that Christianity is not monolithic, and there are many different views and beliefs on certain issues within all of Christianity, and I think a person is treading on dangerous ground if he presumes to know God’s or Jesus’s stance on a certain issue. If Christ’s core message is love, then that’s where we should be directing our efforts, and the rest should be left in God’s hands, for Him to judge, not us.

In some ways, I guess I’ve come full-circle from the beginning of this post. What should your heart treasure? Politics? Pro-life? Gay rights? Stimulus packages? Bank bailouts? Universal healthcare? Tariffs? Free trade? Fair trade? Unions? Hmmmm… That seems like a lot of masters to serve.