Bonhoeffer: Lying Destroys Community


Source: German Federal Archive
Source: German Federal Archive

Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his Cost of Discipleship:

Because the first and last concern of truthfulness is the revealing of persons in their whole being, in their evilness before God, such truthfulness is resisted by the sinner. That is why it is persecuted and crucified. The truthfulness of the disciples has its sole basis in following Jesus, in which he reveals our sins to us on the cross. Only the cross as God’s truth about us makes us truthful. Those who know the cross no longer shy away from any truth. Those who live under the cross can do without the oath as a commandment establishing truthfulness, for they exist in the perfect truth of God.

There is no truth toward Jesus without truth toward other people. Lying destroys community. But truth rends false community and founds genuine fellowship. There is no following Jesus without living in the truth unveiled before God and other people.

One thought on “Bonhoeffer: Lying Destroys Community

  1. Being 3/4 German descent, I have a powerful affinity for absolute statements like Bonhoeffer’s. I wasted most of my life trying to attain these binary, yes/no, in/out conditions. I’ve come to accept the duplicity and hypocrisy of my nature. Not that it is acceptable but acceptance is a sign of humility and humility opens the channel to God; to cry out for help to do what I cannot do myself. Too bad it took me 50 years to accept this.

    “There is no truth toward Jesus without truth toward other people” is inspirational and aspirational. The problem is I’m stuck with my narrative; my truth. My truth is not absolute and whenever I try for The Truth, I fall well short most of the time, despite what I desire. So I try to keep my mind and heart open, acknowledging my truth is malleable and occasional transmutes.

    From prison, Bonhoeffer told his friends “we need to view our enemies by their suffering, not their behavior” (that’s a paraphrase) yet he was executed for conspiring the assassination of Der Fuehrer. I don’t say this in judgment, just another example of how complicated motivation and behavior are; and situational.

    I’m down to two absolutes in my life: the omnipresence of God and the omnipotence of Love. This is how I can love God, love others, and love myself; in the proper order. The rest is commentary.

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