Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 9-12

1. “The angry word is a blow struck at our brother, a stab at his heart: it seeks to hit, to hurt and to destroy.  A deliberate insult is even worse, for we are then openly disgracing our brother in the eyes of the world, and causing others to despise him.  With our hearts burning with hatred, we seek to annihilate his moral and material existence.  We are passing judgement on him, and that is murder.  And the murderer will himself be judged.”

- Since so much of our discourse today is anything but civil, how are we to respond to the proliferation of angry words spewed in politics, Facebook, talk radio, Twitter, and other media outlets?

2. “The Incarnation is the ultimate reason why the service of God cannot be divorced from the service of man.  He who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar.  There is therefore only one way of following Jesus and of worshiping God, and that is to be reconciled with our brethren.”

-  Is there an exception to this last statement?  Why or why not?

3. “The body of Jesus was crucified.  St. Paul, speaking of those who belong to Christ, says that they have crucified their body with its affections and lusts.  Here we have another instance of an Old Testament law finding its truest fulfilment in the crucified body of Jesus Christ.  As they contemplate this body which was given for them, and as they share in its life, the disciples receive strength for the chastity which Jesus requires.”

- How are we to understand such chastity today?

4. “What is an oath?  It is an appeal made to God in public, calling upon him to witness a statement made in connection with an event or fact, past, present or future.  By means of the oath, men invoke the omniscient deity to avenge the truth.  How can Jesus say that such an oath is ‘sin?’  The answer is to be sought in his concern for complete truthfulness.”  “The commandment of complete truthfulness is really only another name for the totality of discipleship.”

- Why have we relied on oaths?  Why does Jesus forbid them?

5. “The only way to overcome evil is to let it run itself to a standstill because it does not find the resistance it is looking for.  Resistance merely creates further evil and adds fuel to the flames.  But when evil meets no opposition and encounters no obstacle but only patient endurance, its sting is drawn, and at last it meets an opponent which is more than its match.  Of course, this can only happen when the last ounce of resistance is abandoned, and the renunciation of revenge is complete.  Then evil cannot find its mark, it can breed no further evil, and is left barren.”

- Where does this strategy prove true?  Where is it incomplete?

6. “Suffering willingly endured is stronger than evil, it spells death to evil.  The worse the evil, the readier must the Christian be to suffer; he must let the evil person fall into Jesus’ hands.”  “The cross is the only power in the world which proves that suffering love can avenge and vanquish evil.  But it was just this participation in the cross which the disciples were granted when Jesus called them to him.  They are called blessed because of their visible participation in his cross.”

- How is Christian suffering stronger than evil?

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