Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the
German Lutheran pastor and martyr of the Confessing Church, critiqued
the institutional German ecclesiastical context in November of 1932. His
words apply equally seven decades later to the present American crisis
which combines an epidemic of bad theology with sycophantic allegiance
to the State and the chieftains of Corporate America:
one who knows today’s church will want to complain that the church
doesn’t do anything. No, the church does immeasurably much, and also
with much sacrifice and seriousness; but we all do precisely too
many second, third, and fourth works, and not the first works.
exactly because of this, the church is not doing what is crucial. We
celebrate, we represent, we strive for influence, we start a
Protestant movement, we do Protestant youth work, we perform
charitable service and care, we make propaganda against godlessness
-– but do we do the first works which are the basis of absolutely
everything? "Do we love God and our brother with that first,
passionate, burning love that risks everything -– except God?
really allow God to be God? Do we leave ourselves and our church to
Him completely? If that were the case, things would have to look
different, there would surely be a breakthrough."
preached on Reformation Day, November 6, 1932 as quoted in Georg
Huntemann’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer: An Evangelical Reassessment (Baker), p.
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