For Bonhoeffer, the relationship with God ordered everything else around it. A number of times he referred to the relationship with Jesus Christ as being like the cantus firmus of a piece of music. All the other parts of the music referred to it, and it held them together. To be true to God in the deepest way meant having such a relationship with him that one did not live legalistically by "rules" or "principles." One could never separate one's actions from one's relationship to God. It was a more demanding and more mature level of obedience, and Bonhoeffer had come to see that the evil of Hitler was forcing Christians to go deeper in their obedience, to think harder about what God was asking. Legalistic religion was being shown to be utterly inadequate.
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let anyone using those weasel words 'freedom of worship' know, they have 'freedom of worship' in China and it is meaningless and it is vile. 'Freedom of worship' says you may do what you like in that building on Sunday mornings or whenever you like, but when you come out you will bow to the secular orthodoxy of the state. That is the antithesis of what the Founders meant in guaranteeing 'freedom of religion.
Death is only dreadful for those who live in dread and fear of it. Death is not wild and terrible, if only we can be still and hold fast to God's Word. Death is not bitter, if we have not become bitter ourselves. Death is grace, the greatest gift of grace that God gives to people who believe in him. Death is mild, death is sweet and gentle; it beckons to us with heavenly power, if only we realize that it is the gateway to our homeland, the tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace. How do we know that dying is so dreadful? Who knows whether, in our human fear and anguish we are only shivering and shuddering at the most glorious, heavenly, blessed event in the world? Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.
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Bonhoeffer examined and dismissed a number of approaches to dealing with evil. "Reasonable people, " he said, think that "with a little reason, they can pull back together a structure that has come apart at the joints." Then there are the ethical "fanatics" who "believe that they can face the power of evil with the purity of their will and their principles." Men of"conscience" become overwhelmed because the "countless respectable and seductive disguises and masks in which evil approaches them make their conscience anxious and unsure until they finally content themselves with an assuaged conscience instead of a good conscience." They must "deceive their own conscience in order not to despair." Finally there are some who retreat to a "private virtuousness. Such people neither steal, nor murder, nor commit adultery, but do good according to their abilities. but... they must close their eyes and ears to the injustice around them. Only at the cost of self-deception can they keep their private blamelessness clean from the stains of responsible action in the world. In all that they do, what they fail to do will not let them rest.
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Here was the rub: one must be more zealous to please God than to avoid sin. One must sacrifice oneself utterly to God's purposes, even to the point of possibly making moral mistakes. One's obedience to God must be forward-oriented and zealous and free, and to be a mere moralist or pietist would make such a life impossible.
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The Americans speak so much about freedom in their sermons. Freedom as a possession is a doubtful thing for a church; freedom must be won under the compulsion of a necessity. Freedom for the church comes from the necessity of the Word of God. Otherwise it becomes arbitrariness and ends in a great many new ties.
The more science learns, the clearer it is that although we are here, we shouldn't be. Once we begin considering the details of it all, the towering odds against our existence begin to become a bit unsettling. When we come to see the superlatively extreme precariousness of our existence, and begin to understand how by any accounting, we ought not to exist, what are we to think or feel? Our existence seems to be not merely a virtually impossible miracle but the most outrageous miracle conceivable, one that makes previously amazing miracles seem like almost nothing.
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Ever heard of anyone executed for distributing copies of Grimm's fairy tales? Imagine people trying to smuggle copies of Hans Christian Andersen's works into China? The Bible, which has been called a mere collection of myths has suffered all of these fates: even today, copies of the Bible are banned and burned. There's something about this ancient book that threatens and frightens those in power.
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The family trees of Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer are everywhere so laden with figures of accomplishment that one might expect future generations to be burdened by it all. But the welter of wonderfulness that was their heritage seemed to have been a boon, one that buoyed them up so that each child seems not only to have stood on the shoulders of giants but also to have danced on them.
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For at least a decade, Millennials have been stereotyped as lazy, entitled, and stuck on social media. While that may not be entirely fair, they are notoriously liberal, overwhelmingly supporting left-leaning candidates and favoring policies like nationalized healthcare and same-sex 'marriage.'
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If America is an idea, which it is - we're not a nation of ethnic groups that say we're Americans because we have American blood; we have the blood of every nation in our veins - and there's something really beautiful about that, but it means that we are an idea and that we all have to buy into this idea.