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American Pastor: 5 Bonhoeffer Quotes for YOUR Next Sermon

I’ve been punching mad keys to complete my forthcoming book with Wipf and Stock Publishers, God Incognito: Bonhoeffer’s Theology of the Cross for the Trump era and Beyond. Here is a taste of some of Bonhoeffer’s original material that I’ve come across over the past 5 years. And so to the thousands of American pastors (and the millions across the whole world), now is the time—if there was ever a time in your lifetime—to preach Christ via Bonhoeffer. You might be “crucified” by your congregation or by the Christian nationalists and fundamentalists, but that is what it means to be formed into the image of Cruciform Love for the sake of the human beings that God loves and shows solidarity with in Jesus.

“Do we think that we of all people are the favorite children of God? If we thought that way, then we would be deeply rooted in pharisaism, then we would have ceased being Christians. Does God love our enemies less, having come for them, suffered for them, died for them as well as for us? The cross is not the private property of any human being, but it belongs to all human beings; it is valid for all human beings. God loves our enemies—this is what the cross tells us. God suffers for their sake, experiences misery and pain for their sake; the Father has given his dear Son for them. Everything depends on this: that whenever we meet an enemy, we immediately think: this is someone whom God loves; God has given everything for this person.”

– The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Loving our Enemies,” p. 196.

“Christianity stands or falls by its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power, and its apologia for the weak. I feel that Christianity is doing too little in making these points rather than doing too much. Christianity has adjusted itself much too easily to the worship of power. It should give much worse offence, more shock to the world, than it is doing. Christianity should take a much more definite stand for the weak than for the potential moral right of the strong.”

– The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “My Strength is Made Perfect in Weakness,” p. 169.

“What does it mean to believe in Christ, who [is] himself love, if I still hate? What does it mean to confess Christ as my Lord in faith if I do not do his will? Such a faith is not faith but hypocrisy. It does nobody any good to protest that he or she is a believer in Christ without first going and being reconciled with his or her brother or sister—even if this means someone who is a nonbeliever, of another race, marginalized, or outcast. And the church that calls a people to belief in Christ must itself be, in the midst of that people, the burning fire of love, the nucleus of reconciliation, the source of the fire in which all hate is smothered and proud, hateful people are transformed into love people. Our churches of the Reformation have done mighty deeds, but it seems to me that they have not yet succeeded with this greatest deed, and it is more necessary today than ever.”

– The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “A Church that Believes, Hopes and Loves,” p. 162.

4“In the humiliation, Christ of his own free will, enters the world of sin and death. He enters it in such a way as to hide himself in it in weakness and not to be recognized as God-Man. He does not enter in kingly robes of a morphe theou (Greek, ‘form of God)….He goes incognito, as a beggar among beggars, as an outcast among outcasts, as despairing among the despairing, as dying among the dying.”

– Christ the Center, p. 107

5“The church is the church only when it exists for others…It must tell [human beings] of every calling what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others.”

– Letters and Papers from Prison, 382-283

Josh is an award-winning faith and culture writer and the author of the upcoming book, God Incognito: Bonhoeffer's Theology of the Cross for the Trump Era and Beyond. He holds a master's degree in theology from Tyndale Seminary in Toronto and is the recipient of the Dr. Ross and Carol Bailey Theology Award. He lives in Murillo, Ontario with his wife and their two adorable daughters and has a column at ChristianWeek.org.

  1. Thanks Josh. Great finds. Challenging but also sort of obvious once he says it aloud. Easier preached than lived.

  2. Thanks Josh – these fit in very well with my topic (Love Your Enemies) at my House Group this week, so am going to use these quotations as discussion points.

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