Bonhoeffer on Christmas

Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for plotting against Hitler, is in vogue today.  Much of what people are so excited about in his writings is simply Lutheran spirituality.  Michael Gerson writes a fine column about Bonhoeffer’s reflections from a Nazi prison on Christmas.  What Bonhoeffer is saying–the inversions, the paradoxes, the repudiation of power (of great interest in a postmodern apologetic)–is an application to Christmas of Luther’s theology of the Cross. [Read more...]

God always begins with NOTHING

“It is God’s nature to make something out of nothing; hence one who is not yet nothing, out of him God cannot make anything. . . .Therefore God accepts only the forsaken, cures only the sick, gives sight only to the blind, restores life only to the dead, sanctifies only the sinners, gives wisdom only to the unwise.  In short, He has mercy only on those who are wretched, and gives grace only to those who are not in grace.”

–Martin Luther, “Commentary on Psalm 38,” Luther’s Works 14:163. [Read more...]

God from above vs. God from below

I’ve started working through the Christian Year of Grace by Johann Spangenberg, a contemporary of Luther who, as a pastor and educator, wanted to provide laypeople a guide to help with the devotional reading of the newly-available Scriptures.  He took the appointed Scripture readings for each Sunday, then–as a classical educator trained in dialectic–offered questions and answers that take the reader deeply into the riches of these texts.

After the jump, I’ll give you an excerpt from his treatment of Romans 11:33-36, the Epistle reading for Trinity Sunday:  “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God:  how incomprehensible are His judgments, how unsearchable His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord?” [Read more...]

“He comes down to the very depths”

For my Lenten reading, I have taken up Living by Faith by Oswald Bayer, a book that I have found to be extremely illuminating.    At the beginning of Lent, I posted about what I was learning from Bayer about how we have a primal need for justification, how we are always trying to justify ourselves, and the difference it can make to realize that Christ justifies us (see this and this and this and this).  I thought for the end of Lent, I would quote some passages from Bayer that I found both provocative and helpful.

Today, as Holy Week begins, I offer his reflections upon the necessity of knowing God not just through His glory but through His Cross. [Read more...]

Two solutions for the terminally ill

Here are two heart-breaking stories of women with terminal brain cancer.  The first is moving to Oregon so she can avail herself of physician-assisted suicide, searching for control of her life and “death with dignity.”  The second says why she is rejecting that option and how she is putting her faith in Jesus Christ.  Read them both.  Discuss.

Article #1 by Brittany Maynard

Article #2 by Maggie Karner

HT:  Rev. James Douthwaite

Attraction, not argument

Michael Brendan Dougherty discusses the doom and gloom many Christians feel about the church’s prospects in contemporary culture.  He disagrees that things are that bad and says that there are two ways the church grows:  by biology and by “attraction, not argument.”  He goes on to quote Pope Benedict XVI who said that “The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely, the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb.”

Would that the church today would grow some art in her womb that would have elements of attraction!  Is this just more theology of glory wishful thinking?  Won’t a period of cultural exile, weakness, and humiliation under the Cross do the church some good?  Or does the author make a good point?  If he does, what should change in the way the church goes about its business? [Read more...]


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