Dietrich Bonhoeffer On New Monasticism:


Image: The Prayer Foundation logo (with white Celtic cross on a green shield).

(Neo-Monasticism, Neomonasticism)



Photo: "Skellig Michael" Copyright Irish Tourist Board.


Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."Photo: Inishmurray, County Sligo. Old Monasticism: Ancient Celtic monastery ruins - Inishmurray, County Sligo, Ireland.

An Often Quoted Paraphrase:

"The renewal of the Church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount.  It is high time men and women banded together to do this."  

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer


The Exact Quote:     

'...the restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ.  I think it is time to gather people together to do this...' 

  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Extract of a letter written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother Karl-Friedrick on the 14th of January, 1935. (Source: John Skinner, Northumbria Community).          


"Monastic life thus became a living protest against the secularization of Christianity, against the cheapening of grace."

“The expansion of Christianity and the increasing secularization of the church caused the awareness of costly grace to be gradually lost…. But the Roman church did keep a remnant of that original awareness.  It was decisive that monasticism did not separate from the church and that the church had the good sense to tolerate monasticism.  Here, on the boundary of the church, was the place where the awareness that grace is costly and that grace includes discipleship was preserved…. Monastic life thus became a living protest against the secularization of Christianity, against the cheapening of grace.”  

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship, p.46)


Historical Note:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran Pastor in Germany who was first imprisoned and later executed (by hanging) by the Nazis during World War II...just a few weeks before the end of the war.  Nazi policy was to execute all prisoners before the arrival of the Allies' liberating armies could free them.


His Most Well-known Book: 

 "The Cost of Discipleship"


"First they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out - because I was
not a Jew.  Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out 
because I was not a Communist.  Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out -because I was not a trade unionist.  Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me!" 

-Pastor Niemoller (probably spoken to a group of students in 1946 as his answer to the question: Why didn't the churches get involved?)

German Citizens were allowed only two options in religion: to acknowledge Hitler and the Nazi Party as their only "secular religion," or to worship Thor and Odin and the other "old gods".  In all Christian Churches the Bible was replaced on the altar or lectern with Hitler's book, Mein Kampf, and the Cross of Christ on the central wall facing the congregation was replaced with a German Officer's Sword.  Many of the orthodox Lutheran Pastors resigned at this point.  Some would join the underground "Confessing Church" (and of these, many would end their lives in concentration camps).  They were replaced in the Churches with loyal Nazi Party members wearing military uniforms in place of clerical vestments.  Many of the more theologically liberal clergy simply donned the brown uniforms and began preaching from Mein Kampf.  (Source: William Schirer, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich".)


Related Pages:


Copyright © 2002 S.G.P. All rights reserved.