Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Ethics

I feel less ambiguity about this book than about Discipleship. It is well worth reading, even if its unfinished state is annoying, not only because so many chapters stop in the middle of the discussion (did he get bored? Did he feel that the argument he was making was failing of going in the wrong direction? In some cases I suspect the latter) but because he seems to work on a number of different positions that in some ways are very different from each other. In other words, he seems to develop his case as he writes, but since he never got around to editing it all together, we get different stages in that development, which is hard to handle unless you want to so a really in depth study.

What I see as the great value of the book is that Bonhoeffer is very good att pointing out the relevant aspects of a theme, in a way that helps me think about things in a way that makes ”secular” influencese more obvious in my thinking. At the same time, however, a times he seems to loose touch with ”reality” and ends up creating, for example, a quite hypothetical account of the way Church and Government are related.

I also finds his notion of ”mandates” strangely rigid. Here his ”lutheranism” becomes a problem IMO. I simply don’t see these four mandates – labour, marriage, government and church – as so clearly biblical as Bonhoeffer does. Why these four? I think there is a lot more to think about here, and frankly I do not find the bible as tidy in this respect as Bonhoeffer seems to do. That said, what he has to say about these for is mostly interesting and worth attending to.

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