- Hardcover: 750 pages
- Publisher: Augsburg Fortress; Tra edition (11 Jan. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0800698150
- ISBN-13: 978-0800698157
- Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 5.8 x 23.1 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,362,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Theological Education Underground: 1937-1940: v. 15 (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works) Hardcover – 11 Jan 2011
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But his clear convictions do not prevent his warm encouragement and caring that also comes through in the circular letters to the pastors facing persecution. Many of the Finkenwalde brothers had already faced prison, but Bonhoeffer encourages them to stand strong. Particularly poignant is letter 160 addressed to the Finkenwalde brothers (a circular letter to Confessing Church pastors he trained). In it he mentions the death of one of their brother who was drafted for military service. He died in the first days of the war. Reading with the advantage of history we know this is but the opening bloody scratch of a deep wound the Nazis inflict on the world. The pain of this first personal loss echoes as a human size tragedy that reverberates into ear splitting feedback ringing through history.
Also valuable is portion of his dairy from his short time in America just before the war. We can feel a soul in turmoil as he wrestles with the path he should walk. We know the costs of his choice and want to urge him to stay in America. But he cannot abandoned his brothers or his church in their time of struggle. His heart is knit to Christ and His church. The lectures section also has an essay on the American church that is insightful even today. He is critical of the exclusion of negroes (as he calls them) from the comfortable American church. A failure that looks cowardly compared to conviction Bonhoeffer acted with.
His well known theological acuity is evident in his letters, lectures, monographs and sermons. He thinks theologically in all his writing. I’m not sure any other 20th century writer combines his level of theological insight with a heart poured out for the church and unbreakable convictions in the face of trial.
His lectures on pastoral counseling are full of practical advice. Today we would call it pastoral care: the one-on-one discipleship of believers. He discusses the objectives, tools, and requirements, all with hands on approach. A few quotes: “Lead from the questions for human help to the question for God's help.” “Take the questioner more seriously than the questions and more seriously than he takes himself.” “During visits, turn off chatter about others.” And many additional longer tips.
This volume is arranged into three parts similar to the other volumes that are not monographs. Part one is letters in chronological order. The letters include some addressed to him which provide helpful context. The second section is essays and lectures and the final is sermons and meditations. All carefully footnoted, cross referenced, and outlined with Germanic precision as well as helpfully indexed.
I would recommend the hardcovers as they are worth the extra money. Much better quality bindings and printing than mass market hardcovers. The DBWE books are bound in real cloth hardcovers with foil stamping and excellent sewn bindings and attractive dust jackets and attractively printed on high-quality paper (with the exception of DBWE Vol 6 ‘Ethics’ which for some reason has a stiffer binding and coarse paper). These books are made to outlast a single generation.
For the new pastor or layman, this encouraging and instructive volume together with DBWE Vol 14 and 16 are the closest thing to having been mentored by Bonhoeffer himself.