By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bonhoeffer on the Bible


I have to share an extended excerpt from the recently published biography of the German martyr.  The biographer quotes directly from the writings of Bonhoeffer:

First of all I will confess quite simply--I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive this answer. One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. . . . . Only if we will venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not will to leave us alon[e] with our questions, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible . . . .

If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not at all congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands. This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament . . .

And I would like to tell you now quite personally: since I have learnt to read the Bible in this way--and this has not been for so very long--it becomes every day more wonderful to me. I read it in the morning and the evening, often during the day as well, and every day I consider a text which I have chosen for the whole week, and try to sink deeply into it, so as really to hear what it is saying. I know that without this I could not live properly any longer.

Source: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as quoted in the biography by Eric Metaxas.

Now these are not the "ravings" of another fanatic. Bonhoeffer was extremely cultured and educated, even "aristocratic." He reached the top of the academic world in Germany in the first half of the 20th century--which is no mean feat. He was not a fundamentalist by any means. He bears listening to carefully. He rubbed shoulders with and was friends with some of the icons of liberal theology in Germany. Yet, he was very different.