Sunday Considerations: Called to Die

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Christians are called to come together for corporate worship with one another. As many of us prepare for corporate worship I’d encourage each Christian to ask themselves what else Christ has called you to. Christ has called us to die to self and take up our cross daily.

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ. In fact every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and his call are necessarily our death as well as our life.1

  1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 1st Touchstone ed. (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 89-90.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MarieP January 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Good stuff! I am currently reading Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer, and I plan to read The Cost of Discipleship next. The biography is a fascinating read. What sorrow it must have brought Bonhoeffer to see Christians in both the German Protestant Church, and even in his own Confessing Church, not count the cost when it came to the fundamentals of the Gospel. But then, you have to ask, how would the US church fare in a similar situation? We have out own history with the separation of African-Americans from our assemblies. I was reminded of a recent story about a KY church that passed a ban on interracial marriages, which thankfully was overturned! (hopefully it was for better reasons than the article cited, though)

http://www.jdjournal.com/2011/12/13/kentucky-church-ban-on-interracial-couples-negated/

Back to the church in Nazi Germany, there was discussion of creating a Bible that did away with all its “Jewish elements.” That would make for one slim Bible! Actually, if we say Luke was Jewish, then there wouldn’t even be a Bible- well, maybe a map or two.

2 Steve Martin January 9, 2012 at 12:56 am

Yes, He bids us to die.

To die to our old self and our way of trying to justify ourself by what we do, say, feel, or think.

He want to save real sinners who know their need of a real Savior, and some some sort of a cosmic ‘helper’.

That word of law should kill us off (to the righteousness project)…and then that Word of the gospel can come and raise us from the dead and give us new life.

Over and over and over and over again. Until the last day when He raises us for the last time to spend an eternity with Himself.

Thanks.

3 John Pottorff January 15, 2012 at 5:36 am

Mark, I commend you on your efforts, but I’m hoping you do more research on Bonhoeffer.

The following is a summary of beliefs and influence of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as taken from some of the over 14 books and documents attributed to him:

1. He believed that “God is teaching us that we must live as men who can get along very well without Him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us.” Bonhoeffer also believed that the concept of God as a “supreme Being, absolute in power and goodness,” was a “spurious conception of transcendence,” and that “God as a working hypothesis in morals, politics, and science … should be dropped, or as far as possible eliminated” (Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, pp. 122, 164, 360).

2. He believed that mankind had become of age and no longer needed religion, which was only a deceptive garment of true faith; he suggested the need for a “religionless Christianity.” To Bonhoeffer, “the Christian is identified not by his beliefs, but by actions, by his participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world” (Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, p. 163). Thus, Bonhoeffer’s final writings have given impulse to Marxist theologians sponsoring “liberation theology” and to others wishing to promote a worldly social gospel.

3. He refused to discuss the origin of Christ, His relationship to the Father, His two natures, or even the relationship of the two natures. Bonhoeffer was adamant in his belief that it was impossible to know the objective truth about the real essence of Christ’s being-nature (Christ the Center, pp. 30, 88, 100-101).

4. He questioned the Virgin Birth, and in reality denied it (The Cost of Discipleship, p. 215).

5. He denied the deity of Christ; he advocated that “Jesus Christ Today” is not a real person and being, but a “corporate presence” (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 75-76; Christ the Center, p. 58).

6. He denied the sinlessness of Christ’s human nature and further questioned the sinlessness of His earthly behavior (Christ the Center, pp. 108-109).

7. He believed that Christ exists in three “revelatory forms” — as Word, as sacrament, and as church. From asserting that Christ is the church, he followed that all persons in the church are identical with Christ (Christ the Center, p. 58; The Cost of Discipleship, p. 217). This amounts to pantheism!

8. He believed that Christianity is not exclusive, i.e., that Christ is not the only way to God (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 55-56).

9. He was a prominent figure in the early ecumenical movement, as evidenced through his associations with the “World Alliance for International Friendship” (a forerunner of the apostate World Council of Churches [WCC]), Union Theological Seminary, and Visser ‘t Hooft (who later became the first General Secretary of the WCC) (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 22, 212, 568). Bonhoeffer also reached out to Roman Catholics, prefiguring the broader ecumenism that blossomed after Vatican II in the mid-1960s.

10. He was a practical evolutionist (No Rusty Swords, p. 143), and believed that the book of Genesis was scientifically naive and full of myths (Creation and Fall: A Theological Interpretation of Genesis 1-3).

11. He adhered to neo-orthodox theology and terminology concerning salvation (Testimony to Freedom, p. 130), was a sacramentalist (Life Together, p. 122; The Way to Freedom, pp. 115, 153), believed in regenerational infant baptism (Letters and Papers from Prison, Macmillan, pp. 142-143) as well as adult baptismal regeneration (The Way to Freedom, p. 151), equated church membership with salvation (The Way to Freedom, p. 93), and denied a personal/individualistic salvation (Letters and Papers from Prison, Macmillan, p. 156).

12. He placed little or no value on the Old Testament –“… the faith of the Old Testament is not a religion of salvation” (Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, p. 112).

13. He denied the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture, believing that the Bible was only a “witness” to the Word of God and becomes the Word of God only when it “speaks” to an individual; otherwise, it was simply the word of man/men (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 9, 104; Sanctorum Communio, p. 161). To Bonhoeffer, the Bible was meant “to be expounded as a witness, not as a book of wisdom, a teaching book, a book of eternal truth” (No Rusty Swords, p. 118). He also believed in the value of higher criticism/historical criticism, which is a denial of the inerrancy and authenticity of the Bible (Christ the Center, pp. 73-74).

14. He had no faith in the physical resurrection of Christ. Bonhoeffer believed the “historicity” of the Resurrection was in “the realm of ambiguity,” and that it was one of the “mythological” elements of Christianity that “must be interpreted in such a way as not to make religion a pre-condition of faith.” He also believed that “Belief in the Resurrection is not the solution of the problem of death,” and that such things as miracles and the ascension of Christ were “mythological conceptions” as well (Christ the Center, p. 112; Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, pp. 93-94, 110).

– Dr. G. Archer Weniger declared, “If there is wholesome food in a garbage can, then one can find some good things in Bonhoeffer, but if it be dangerous to expect to find nourishment in a garbage can, then Bonhoeffer must be totally rejected and repudiated as blasphemy. It is worse than garbage” (FBF Information Bulletin, May 1977, p. 12).

I copied this from Biblical Discernment Ministries, it was much easier/quicker than rummaging through my files.

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