The Night Before He Died
I was first introduced to the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by my ethics professor at Fuller Seminary, Glen Stassen. Dr. Stassen was a passionate Christian ethicist as well as a friend to Eberhard Bethge, who Bonhoeffer often wrote while imprisoned by Nazi Germany. Both Stassen and Bonhoeffer were concerned with the state of Christianity and its entrenchment in nationalism, capitalism, and militarism. Their works in theology and ethics engaged how we can live faithfully as Christians in times of religious and cultural polarization. I have been profoundly influenced by Stassen and Bonhoeffer's courage to address the human condition while developing new forms of Christianity that address the most vital issues concerning humanity. I hope you will find this selection helpful during the final week of Lent.
“In his anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” -Luke 22:44–46
It is in the complete this-worldliness of life that we must first learn how to believe. When we have fully renounced making something out of ourselves—be it a saint or a converted sinner or a church man or woman (a so-called priestly figure), a righteous or an unrighteous person, a sick or a healthy person—when we have renounced all of that, we fall completely into God’s arms and what I call this-worldliness, namely, living in an abundance of tasks, questions, successes and failures, experiences, and helplessness. We then take seriously no longer our own suffering, but the suffering of God in the world.
We watch with Christ in Gethsemane. This, I think, is faith.
One thing remains clear or at least sensed: doubt and temptation about the meaningfulness of being cast to and fro, of being at the mercy of things, will not cease as long as we remain focused on ourselves, as long as in one form or another “the other” does not step into our lives.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Detlef Albers, 30 August 1929