Bonhoeffer, Closed Minds, and Blinded Eyes

Blessed Advent Wednesday to you all.

I wanted to share a couple of quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. One is an excerpt from his sermon on 2 Corinthians 12:9, the other from a letter he wrote to his grandmother (hat tip to David Fitch for posting these on Facebook).
“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christians should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong.”
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from his sermon on 2 Corinthians 12:9
He later wrote this note to his grandmother in August of 1933:
“It is becoming increasingly clear …that what we are going to get for “church” is a volkisch nationalistic church that in its essence can no longer be reconciled with Christianity … we must make up our minds to take entirely new paths and follow where they lead. The issue is really Germanism or Christianity, and the sooner the conflict comes out in the open, the better. The greatest danger of all would be in trying to conceal this.”
 – Bonhoeffer (vol 12 Bonhoeffer Works).
Looking back into the pages of history and the uprising of Nazi Germany we see that Bonhoeffer’s words should have provoked Christ-followers to think critically about what was taking place. Yet, they were ignored by over 10,000 German Lutheran pastors who remained supporters of the nationalistic christianity promoted by the Nazi regime.
Bonhoeffer was not the first to speak prophetically during troublesome times. Over the course of history God has raised up prophets to speak to His people to draw them away from the ideologies that promoted exploitive or death-dealing movements. In the U.S.A. prophets have tried to awaken us to movements like the Trail of Tears, to the mistreatment and denial of full equality for women and people of color.
Stop and think.
As native peoples were being marched to a slow death, christians gathered in church buildings to sing Amazing Grace while never thinking critically about what was taking place. As women were given limited opportunity for real independence in American society, from education to vocation, many christian men sitting next to them in worship services listened to stories about how Jesus treated women while never thinking critically about what was taking place. As people of color were forced to social separation from the majority of American society, and as they were limited to the attics and basements of a white congregation’s church buildings, if allowed in at all, white people gathered in church buildings to come to the Lord’s Table while never thinking critically about what was taking place.
Closed minds and blinded eyes lead to unliberated lives.
May the Spirit of the Lord open the eyes of many blinded by the god of this age so that willful blindness and denial be present among His Church no more.
“But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake.”
~ Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:3-5

About Fred

Fred came to serve greater Williamsburg and WCC as lead pastor in October of 2010 and is grateful to be a part of the family. He is a husband, father, certified trauma professional, S.T.A.R. (strategies for trauma awareness & resilience) practitioner, community organizer, TEDx alum, founder of 3e Restoration, Inc. and co-owner of Philoxenia Culture LLC. He received his B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and his Master’s of Religious Education in Missional Leadership from Rochester University. Currently he is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology in at Northern Seminary in Chicago. Fred has also served as an adjunct professor for Rochester University and Regent University where taught courses in philosophy, ethics, leadership, pastoral care, intro to Christianity, and ethnography. He has also served as a guest lecturer on the subjects of racialized cultural systems, poverty, and missiology at various universities, such as William & Mary and Oklahoma Christian University. Fred has authored on book (Racialized Cultural Systems, Social Displacement and Christian Hospitality) and several curriculum offerings, including The FloorPlan: Living Toward Restoration & Resilience. Fred enjoys hanging out with his family anytime, anywhere. He is deeply grateful for how God graciously works through the Church in all her various forms, despite our brokenness. He is passionate about seeing the last, least, and lonely of every neighborhood, city and nation experience God’s in-breaking kingdom, and come to know Jesus as King. Oh, and his favorite season is Advent and Christmas. Fred is a founding member of the board of directors for Virginia Racial Healing Institute, a member of the leadership team for Williamsburg's local chapter of Coming to the Table, and a member of Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network's Racial Trauma Committee and Training Committee.
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1 Response to Bonhoeffer, Closed Minds, and Blinded Eyes

  1. Darryl Willis says:

    Thank you, Fred! Love this.


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