Tuesday
Oct252011

Bonhoeffer, Spiritual Care

Bonhoeffer-Spiritual-Care Amazon.com

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Spiritual Care. Translated by Jay Rochelle. Fortress Press, 1985.

Referenced in: Pastoral Theology

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This is a classic on spiritual care written by Diettrich Bonhoeffer, the prolific leader among Christians in Germany who was imprisoned by the Nazis and executed for his stalwart resistance to Hitler.

It is easy to get the gist of Bonhoeffer’s presentation from the first chapter, “The Mission of Spiritual Care.” He says: “The mission of spiritual care falls under the general mission of proclamation. Caring for the soul is a special sort of proclamation.” (30) He does not mean proclamation in the evangelistic sense, but in that it brings to bear the reality of Christ’s work on our behalf in the various helping situations the minister encounters. Bonhoeffer traces the significance of this into home visitation, conversations with the indifferent, caring for those who are sick and tempted, hearing confessions, visiting another’s deathbed, and ministering in funerals, weddings, and baptisms.

From the Publisher

Bonhoeffer says spiritual care is a function of the congregation and that it is an aspect of the broader, more encompassing activity of proclamation. In Spiritual Care, we are confronted with the awesome truth that in speech God’s presence is known and that speech is also our own; in silence God’s presence is known and that silence is also our own. The text demands us to consider how the gospel message is brought to people in the midst of their personal lives, and his message and counsel use the tools given within the traditional life of the church so that such grace becomes enacted, enfleshed, and incarnate in the Christian community.

About the Author

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau in 1906. The son of a famous German psychiatrist, he studied in Berlin and New York City. He left the safety of America to return to Germany and continue his public repudiation of the Nazis, which led to his arrest in 1943. Linked to the group of conspirators whose attempted assassination of Hitler failed, he was hanged in April 1945.


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