Lent with Bonhoeffer: Simple Obedience

cost of discipleship

Friday, February 23, 2018

Fundamentally eliminating simple obedience introduces a principle of Scripture foreign to the gospel. According to it, in order to understand Scripture, one first must have a key to interpreting it. But that key would not be the living Christ himself in judgment and grace, and using the key would not be according to the will of the living Holy Spirit alone. Rather, the key to Scripture would be a general doctrine of grace, and we ourselves would decide its use. The problem of following Christ shows  itself to be a hermeneutical (biblical interpretation) problem. But it should be clear to a gospel-oriented hermeneutic that we cannot simply identify ourselves directly with those called by Jesus. Instead, those who are called in Scripture themselves belong to the word of God and thus to the proclamation of the word…. Simple obedience would be misunderstood hermeneutically if we were to act and follow as if we were contemporaries of the biblical disciples. But the Christ proclaimed to us in Scripture is, through every word he says, the one whose gift of faith is granted only to the obedient, faith to the obedient alone. We cannot and may not go behind the word of Scripture to the actual events. Instead, we are called to follow Christ by the entire word of Scripture, simply because we do not intend to wish to violate Scripture by legalistically applying a principle to it, even that of a doctrine of faith.

-from The Cost of Discipleship, pg. 82

(These reflections from Dietrich Bonhoeffer can be found in a collection entitled A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Daily Meditations from His Letters, Writings, and Sermons. It can be purchased HERE.)

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