Dietrich Bonhoeffer: From the Editor - A Spiritual Tonic
This issue marks only the second time Christian History has featured a twentieth-century figure. (The first was Issue 7 on C.S. Lewis)
I happily acknowledge a long-standing debt to Bonhoeffer. During my seminary days, in the midst of an overly smug orthodoxy, his writings motivated me to keep on with the theological quest. At a practical level, his forthright explications of “cheap grace” and “religionless Christianity” helped make sense of the church in today’s world.
It seems that about every five years, Bonhoeffer has provided a needed spiritual tonic for me. His poem “Who Am I?” written in prison, gave me permission to ask some disturbing questions in the confidence that “God knows,” even though I wasn’t sure. Later, Bonhoeffer’s pilgrimage offered me a much-needed clue for reapproaching the adventure of faith. This is well summed up in the words of his biographer Eberhard Bethge: “The witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer began with the attempt to live and say what it is to be with Christ, and it ended with teaching what it is that Christ is with us.”
Most recently my gratitude to him has been kindled through a chance comment written by a friend in Uganda. He said that Bonhoeffer’s book on the Psalms was selling well in Christian bookstores there. I ordered it out of curiosity: What did these believers in such difficult circumstances find in this little, 86-page book?
Through the book, Bonhoeffer not only brought me back to the Psalms, but he also reminded me of the necessity of morning prayer—a lesson I learned, like so many of you, as a youth at Bible camp but had drifted from in favor of less-demanding evening devotions. His words are ...