Today we continue our discussion of the chapter on Dietrich Bonhoeffer in John Stackhouse's Making the Best of It.
One Reality. Bonhoeffer rejected the Lutheran notion of two kingdoms in any strong sense. There is one reality and Christ rules over all. There is the spiritual office and the kingdom of worldly authority which should not be mixed but God rules above both realities and they answer to him. Stackhouse makes this observation:
Obedience and resistance to the state. Because the state is also of God, and because we simply can’t know all that goes into decisions about any given situation, Bonhoeffer believed deference should be given to the state. It is established by God and we owe our obedience. This deference is not absolute but when outright resistance is needed it should focus narrowly “on those elements that have forfeited their mandate” as Stackhouse says.
Orders of preservation. Bonhoeffer was not a utopian. He believed life is deeply affected by the fall but not dominated by it. God understood God to have created human institutions promote good and restrain evil. Writing in Ethics:
Later in life speculated that the mandates listed might also be expanded to include things like education and culture. Stackhouse doesn’t mention it but in some ways, this seems very similar to Kuyper’s sphere sovereignty.
Tomorrow we will conclude our discussion of this chapter on Bonhoeffer.