February 12, 2013

Entering Lent with Metaxas, Bonhoeffer, and The Bible

 This Lent, I am reading Eric Metaxas' magnificent biography of one of my spiritual godfathers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

In the passage below, Metaxas quotes from one of Bonhoeffer's letters to his brother-in-law, Rudiger Schleicher. Bonhoeffer, a religious conservative, offers his position on the centrality of scripture to Schleicher, a religious liberal.

"First of all,  I will confess quite simply--I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order the receive this answer. One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. That is because in the Bible God speaks to us. And one cannot simply think about God in one's own strength, one has to enquire of Him. Only if we seek him, will he answer us. Of course it is possible to read the Bible like any other book, that is to say from the point of view of textual criticism, etc., there is nothing to be said against that. Only that that is not the method which will reveal to us the heart of the Bible, but only the surface, just as we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them, so that for days they go on lingering in our minds, simply because they are the words of a person we love; and just as these words reveal more and more of the person who said them as we go on, like Mary, "pondering them in our heart", so it will be with the words of the Bible."

"Only if we will venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not will to leave us alone with our questions, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible..."

How much of the Bible will I ponder during this Lenten season?

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