Saturday 9 August 2008

Bonhoeffer on the task of the preacher

“It is wrong to assume that on the one hand there is a word, or a truth, and on the other hand there is a community existing as two separate entities, and that it would then be the task of the preacher to take this word, to manipulate and enliven it, in order to bring it within and apply it to the community. Rather, the Word moves along this path of its own accord. The preacher should and can do nothing more than be a servant of this movement inherent in the Word itself, and refrain from placing obstacles in its path.”

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship (Bonhoeffer Works Vol. 4; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), pp. 227-28.


Mark Stevens said...

If only he had lived longer! As a Minister and someone who preaches every week, who battles with the consumeristic nature of most sermons he hears (even his own) I love this conscious - we need more who will tell us of the true Christology in preaching! Where are the Bonhoeffers of our day?

Anonymous said...

Yes, his voice needs to be heard when consumer religion requires greater 'professionalism' of the clergy, and by professionalism they mean concern for a whole range of 'people management' and 'leadership' skills. What has that got to do with the business of attending to and getting out of the way of the Word? Surely that's the point of ordination?

Mark Stevens said...

Actually, I feel Eugene Peterson is a Bonhoeffer type voice in our generation. Leading up to my own ordination this week I made sure he was on my reading list. He echoes your sentiments Bruce.

Anonymous said...

I had a Lutheran seminary professor who spoke in much the same way about the Lutheran "uses" of the law (there are three). But instead of talking about them as uses, as in "How should I use the law in this situation", this professor profoundly pointed out that instead we should speak about the "functions" of the law. For it is not us who "use" the law but instead, if the law is proclaimed it will perform its own functions based upon the hearer. I am reminded of that advice as I read this from Bonhoeffer.

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