Bonhoeffer and Christian humanism

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

The human being is called upon to share in God’s suffering at the hands of a godless world. Thus we must really live in that godless world and not try to cover up or transfigure its godlessness somehow with religion. Our lives must be “worldly,” so that we can share precisely so in God’s suffering; our lives are allowed to be “worldly,” that is, we are delivered from false religious obligations and inhibitions. Being a Christian does not mean being religious in a certain way, making oneself into something or other (a sinner, penitent, or saint) according to some method or other. Instead it means being human, not a certain type of human being, but the human being Christ creates in us. It is not a religious act that makes someone a Christian, but rather sharing in God’s suffering in the worldly life. That is “μετάνοια,” not thinking first of one’s needs, questions, sins, and fears but allowing oneself to be pulled into walking the path that Jesus walks, into the messianic event, in which Isa. 53 is now being fulfilled! Hence “believe in the good news” and, in John, the reference to the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

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The Christian is not a homo religiosus but simply a human being, in the same way that Jesus was a human being.

Letters & Papers From Prison


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