Quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Boenhoeffer on ;loving your enemy

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” 

 

“Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the cross; he waited until one of them turned to him.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLetters and Papers from Prison

 

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” 

 

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” 

 

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” 

 

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLetters and Papers from Prison

 

“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.” 

 

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” 

 

“I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world. That, I think, is faith.” 

 

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

 

“It is only because he became like us that we can become like him.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace.” 

 

“Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.” 

 

“I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

 

“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it, for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess he builds. We must proclaim, he builds. We must pray to him, and he will build. We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are the times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point are great times for the church are times when it’s pulled down. It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to his church. You confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough…. Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.” 

 

“True prayer is done in secret, but this does not rule out the fellowship of prayer altogether, however clearly we may be aware of its dangers. In the last resort it is immaterial whether we pray in the open street or in the secrecy of our chambers, whether briefly or lenghtily, in the Litany of the Church, or with the sigh of one who knows not what he should pray for. True prayer does not depend either on the individual or the whole body of the faithful, but solely upon the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows our needs.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“The earthly form of Christ is the form that died on the cross. The image of God is the image of Christ crucified. It is to this image that the life of the disciples must be conformed; in other words, they must be conformed to his death (Phil 3.10, Rom 6.4) The Christian life is a life of crucifixion (Gal 2.19) In baptism the form of Christ’s death is impressed upon his own. They are dead to the flesh and to sin, they are dead to the world, and the world is dead to them (Gal 6.14). Anybody living in the strength of Christ’s baptism lives in the strength of Christ’s death.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“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 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.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

 

“One act of obedience is worth a hundred sermons.” 

 

“In me there is darkness,
But with You there is light;
I am lonely, but You do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help;
I am restless, but with You there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience;
I do not understand Your ways,
But You know the way for me.”

“Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor
And in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.
You know all man’s troubles;
You abide with me
When all men fail me;
You remember and seek me;
It is Your will that I should know You
And turn to You.
Lord, I hear Your call and follow;
Help me.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLetters and Papers from Prison

 

“If my sinfulness appears to me in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

 

“There is a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say. It is an impatient, inattentive listening, that despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person. This is no fulfillment of our obligation, and it is certain that here too our attitude toward our brother only reflects our relationship to God. It is little wonder that we are no longer capable of the greatest service of listening that God has committed to us, that of hearing our brother’s confession, if we refuse to give ear to our brother on lesser subjects. Secular education today is aware that often a person can be helped merely by having someone who will listen to him seriously, and upon this insight it has constructed its own soul therapy, which has attracted great numbers of people, including Christians. But Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

 

“The person who waits upon moods in impoverished. If the painter only wanted to paint when in the mood for it, he would not get very far. In religion, as in art and science, along with the times of high excitement, there are times of sober work and practice. We must practice our communion with God, otherwise we will not find the right tone, the right word, the right language, when God surprises us with his presence.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferMeditating on the Word

 

“Lord, whatsoever this day may bring, Thy name be praised. Be gracious unto me and help me. Grant me strength to bear whatsoever Thou dost send, And let not fear overrule me. I trust Thy grace, and commit my life wholly into Thy Hands. Whether I live or whether I die, I am with Thee and Thou are with me … Lord, I wait for Thy salvation, and for the coming of Thy Kingdom. Amen.” 

 

“Luther had said that grace alone can save; his followers took up his doctrine and repeated it word for word. But they left out its invariable corollary, the obligation to discipleship…The justification of the sinner in the world degenerated into the justification of sin and the world. Costly grace was turned into cheap grace without discipleship.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“The task of pastoral ministry, above all else, is to arrange contingencies for an encounter with the divine.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferEthics

 

“God does not love some ideal person, but rather human beings just as we are, not some ideal world, but rather the real world.” 

 

“Do and dare what is right, not swayed by the whim of the moment. Bravely take hold of the real, not dallying now with what might be. Not in the flight of ideas but only in action is freedom. Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of living. God’s command is enough and your faith in him to sustain you. Then at last freedom will welcome your spirit amid great rejoicing.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferEthics

 

“From now on there can be no more wars of faith. The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“Your life as a Christian should make non believers question their disbelief in God.” 

 

“Jesus says that every Christian has his own cross waiting for him, a cross destined and appointed by God. Each must endure his allotted share of suffering and rejection. But each has a different share: some God deems worthy of the highest form of suffering, and gives them the grace of martyrdom, while others he does not allow to be tempted above that which they are able to bear. But it is the one and the same cross in every case.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“a false faith is capable of terrible and monstrous things.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“It’s much easier for me to imagine a praying murderer, a praying prostitute, than a vain person praying. Nothing is so at odds with prayer as vanity.” 
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

“When a man really gives up trying to make something out of himself—a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman (a so-called clerical somebody), 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, that is metanoia and it is thus that he becomes a man and Christian.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“The Christian life is participation in the encounter of Christ with the world.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferEthics

 

“God sends his Son – here lies the only remedy. It is not enough to give man a new philosophy or better religion. A Man comes to men. Every man bears an image. His body and his life become visible. A man is not a bare word, a thought or a will. He is above all and always a man, a form, an image, a brother. And thus he does not create around him just a new way of thought, will and action but he gives us the new image, the new form. Now in Jesus Christ this is just what has happened. The image of God has entered our midst, in the form of our fallen life, in the likeness of sinful flesh. In the teaching and acts of Christ, in his life and death, the image of God is revealed. In him the divine image has been re-created here on earth. The Incarnation, the words and acts of Jesus, his death on the cross, all are indispensable parts of that image. But it is not the same image as Adam bore in the primal glory of paradise. Rather, it is the image of one who enters a world of sin and death, who takes upon himself all the sorrows of humanity, who meekly bears God’s wrath and judgment against sinners, and obeys his will with unswerving devotion in suffering and death, the Man born to poverty, the friend of publicans and sinners, the Man of sorrows, rejected of man and forsaken of God. Here is God made man, here is man in the new image of God.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

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