Spiritual Care

Spiritual Care

Spiritual Care

Spiritual Care

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

Finkenwalde was both a place and an idea. This small town in Pomerania, more associated in the minds of Germans of the 1930s with vacation than vocation, with pleasure than proclamation, became for a brief period the setting of one of the five preachers’ seminaries of the Confessing church. It began 26 April 1935 in Zingst but was to start in earnest 24 June at Finkenwalde. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was called to be the principal of the seminary by Gerhard Jacobi, president of the Confessing church at Berlin. Bonhoeffer disliked being called “principal” in public by the students, but he filled the position with characteristic vigor and singleness of purpose. This was to be, in Franz Hildebrandt’s phrase, “the most fruitful period of his life.”

At Finkenwalde important things happened; here both Cost of Discipleship and Life Together were born, the latter most particularly from the experience of the gathered seminarians with their young principal (Bonhoeffer was not yet thirty years old when he was given this task by the Confessing church). The curriculum was developed with utmost care. The task of shaping each seminary was left to the individual principal, though ideas, problems, and programs were shared among them. Due to the clandestine nature of the operation, however, it was not possible for the administrative wing of the Confessing church to exercise much leadership; the principals had to be trusted.

Bonhoeffer’s plan for the seminary involved the training of pastors as theologians, preachers, pastors, teachers, and administrators under the Word of God, persons who lived “as committed disciples.” This plan, which might in other circumstances have become a mere cliche, was the raison d’etre for the existence of the seminary in Bonhoeffer’s eyes. Unlike the traditional preachers’ seminaries, in which only the practical aspects of ministry were taught in a technical-school setting, Bonhoeffer . . .

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