Friday, June 6, 2014

Bonhoeffer, 1937. Chapter 6, “The Beatitudes”

Chapter 6, “The Beatitudes”

Bonhoeffer will now turn his attention to Matthew 5-7. In this chapter, dealing with the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 he draws a sharp distinction between the “disciples” and the “people.” All are identified with Israel but only these near Jesus have responded to his call. Bonhoeffer draws an immediate “us vs. them” picture. How does Jesus see these disciples? They have entrusted their lives to him and are dependent. They will also serve as Jesus’ messengers. This, Bonhoeffer considers, will create enmity. Jesus calls them blessed. He makes startling promises to his disciples, promises he does not make to his other followers.

1) Those who renounced all will possess the kingdom. The true disciples are heirs of God’s promise. They especially receive the promise of the cross.

2) Those who mourn by giving up peace and prosperity receive God’s comfort. The true disciple bears sorrow for Christ, willingly, without weariness.

3) Those who renounce their rights and refuse to protect themselves inherit the earth through Jesus’ cross.

4) Those who lay aside their own righteousness, seeking Christ’s righteousness, will receive it.

5) The merciful receive mercy. This requires a love for the lowly and outcast.

6) If our hearts are pure and undefiled we see God.

7) As we make peace by enduring suffering we are sons of God.

8) Suffering for a just cause makes us recipients of God’s kingdom.

Jesus then reminds his disciples, the true ones, that they are blessed. I think Bonhoeffer has gone badly astray here. First, the perfect man is Jesus, not the “true” disciple. Second, he binds believers to a mechanistic works righteousness. This book is becoming a disappointment.

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