All posts tagged Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • “Only the Suffering God Can Help”

    “Only the Suffering God Can Help”
    Brian Zahnd

    Very early in the development of Christian theology the doctrine of divine impassibility ascended to an unquestioned status. Commonly understood, divine impassibility asserts that God is not a subject of any passion, including pain and suffering. Throughout long centuries the doctrine of divine impassibility rested undisturbed and rarely visited in the library of Christian thought. But then came the twentieth century when advancements in technology tragically increased the capacity for human suffering. At the same time that our species was making significant advancements in medical science that lessened the suffering of disease, we also learned how to mechanize war and how to subject large portions of human beings to totalitarian control. From the Gatling gun to the hydrogen bomb, from the Third Reich to Pol Pot, the capacity to inflict suffering became exponential. The crematoriums of Auschwitz and the killing fields of Cambodia haunt our memories and torture our imaginations. In the ghastly light of the Holocaust the language of divine impassibility became untenable. From his cell in the Flossenbürg concentration camp shortly before his execution at the hands of the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer penned these words: “Only the suffering God can help.”
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  • The Barmen Declaration


    The Barmen Declaration of 1934 was a call to resistance against the theological claims of the German Christian movement. The German Evangelical Church had given its support to the Nazi state following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. In opposition to the pro Nazi Evangelicals, the Confessing Church movement was born with the Barmen Declaration as their founding document. Written primarily by Karl Barth, the Barmen Declaration was grounded in Barth’s theological conviction that God cannot be made to serve nationalistic interests, God can only rule the nations. Among the original signers of the Barmen Declaration were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemöller. Of the 18,000 Protestant pastors in Nazi Germany, 3,000 became members of the Confessing Church.

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  • The Tears of God

    Who has believed our report?
    To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
    He grew up before him like a tender young plant
    Like a root out of dry ground
    He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him
    Nothing in his appearance made us desire him
    He is despised and rejected
    A man of sorrows
    Acquainted with grief
    Like one from whom men hide their faces
    He was despised
    And we esteemed him not
    Surely he has borne our griefs
    And carried our sorrows
    Yet we considered him stricken
    Smitten by God and afflicted
    But he was wounded for our transgressions
    He was bruised for our iniquities
    The chastisement for our peace was upon him
    And by his stripes we are healed
    Isaiah 53

    It was four below zero this morning. A perfect day for a roaring fire in the stove. I was stacking wood and listening to Christmas music when I heard Away In a Manger. One of the verses goes like this:
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