Listening with Bonhoeffer

The Living Word


Dietrich Bonhoeffer told his students that the proclaimed Word, the Christian sermon, "is the Christ himself walking through his congregation as the Word." (Worldly Preaching, 126)  This poetic image is central to his understanding of preaching - that Christ is truly present in, with, and under the ordinary words of the sermon.  At the heart of preaching, then, is Christ and him crucified, truly present.


What follows are a few questions to help guide ones hearing:


How did the sermon encounter you as Christ and him crucified?


How was the sermon faithful to the Biblical text?


How did the sermon impact you as Law/Gospel?

Law is God's no - the power of sin and death.

Gospel is God's yes - the power of healing, life, new life.



An excerpt of Bonhoeffer's "Postscript."


For further reading, see the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Reading Room, a thorough and hyper-linked bibliography of Bonhoeffer's writings and resources on Bonhoeffer's life and work hosted by Tyndale University College & Seminary, Toronto, Ontario.



Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Lutheran pastor and theologian, lectured on preaching to seminarians at the underground Confessing Church seminary at Finkenwalde (now Zdroje, Poland) from 1935-1937.  These lectures are compiled in the book, Worldly Preaching (Clyde E. Fant, ed; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1975).  The questions on this page are based loosely on Bonhoeffer's "Criteria for Evaluating the Sermon" (178-179).  Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis on 9 April 1945 at Flossenbürg concentration camp for his participation in plans to end the war by assassinating Adolf Hitler.



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