Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (1906-1945)
From the 1960s on courses on discipleship and on Bonhoeffer himself have been offered at the Mennonite seminaries in Elkhart and Fresno. As the facts of Bonhoeffer's life became better known, a critical engagement with Bonhoeffer took place, with at least two Mennonite doctoral dissertations on him (by A. J. Klassen and Leroy Friesen). Extensive attention was given to his interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, e.g., by Clarence Bauman, who devotes more space to Bonhoeffer than to any other single individual. Factors that made Bonhoeffer attractive to Mennonites were his concern with the church, the way in which he sought to apply the costly aspects of the gospel in a time of "cheap grace," and, perhaps above all, the concern that he had with making the words of Jesus apply to life here and now. Once the "whole" Bonhoeffer emerged, it was not possible to appropriate his ethical complexity, but there is no doubt that the direct simplicity of The Cost of Discipleship and, above all, the profundity of Life Together made a deep and wholesome contribution to Mennonite church life. The most difficult aspect of his position was the devotion he showed to the Volk concept (Bauman, 265-66). It seemed as if his devotion to his Volk led to an attenuation of his allegiance to Christ as Lord, when he plotted the death of Hitler. Such an act is clearly always in fundamental conflict with Mennonite faith in the lordship of Christ, who calls to a life of love and self-sacrifice. As Bonhoeffer himself said: "When Jesus bids a man come and follow him he bids him come and die" (not kill). Mennonites have had their temptations in this regard, and Bonhoeffer has helped Mennonites to recover the ideal that following Christ means saying farewell to other attachments."
Bethge, Eberhard. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, trans. E. Robertson and others. Evanston: Harper and Row, 1970.
Bauman, Clarence. The Sermon on the Mount: the modern quest for it meaning. Macon, Ga. : Mercer U. Press, 1985: 249-74.
Gross, Leonard. "Recasting the Anabaptist Vision: the longer view," Mennonite Quarterly Review 60 (1986): 352-63.
Kühn, Johannes. Toleranz und Offenbarung. Leipzig, 1923.
Visit the major Dietrich Bonhoeffer web site.
Cite This Article
Klassen, William. "Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (1906-1945)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 18 Aug 2017. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bonhoeffer,_Dietrich_(1906-1945)&oldid=75853.
Klassen, William. (1989). Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (1906-1945). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 August 2017, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Bonhoeffer,_Dietrich_(1906-1945)&oldid=75853.
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