“Thinking and perceiving things in line with the Old Testament”

In a letter to his best friend Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:

By the way, I notice more and more how much I am thinking and perceiving things in line with the Old Testament; thus in recent months I have been reading much more the Old than the New Testament. Only when one knows that the name of God may not be uttered may one sometimes speak the name of Jesus Christ. Only when one loves life and the earth so much that with it everything seems to be lost and at its end may one believe in the resurrection of the dead and a new world. Only when one accepts the law of God as binding for oneself may one perhaps speak of grace. And only when the wrath and vengeance of God against God’s enemies are allowed to stand can something of forgiveness and the love of enemies touch our hearts. Whoever wishes to be and perceive things too quickly and too directly in New Testament ways is to my mind no Christian. We have already, of course, discussed this a few times, and every day confirms for me that it is right. One can and must not speak the ultimate word prior to the penultimate. We are living in the penultimate and believe the ultimate, isn’t that so?

– Letters and Papers from Prison

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