Bonhoeffer on Psychology from Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Ethics; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, et al
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The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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Christ the Center; Dietrich, Bonhoeffer
Ethics; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, et al
Letters and Papers from Prison; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eberhard Bethge

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Bonhoeffer on Psychology
Chapter Five Confession and Communion page 118-119

"The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of men. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God's forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is not lack of psychological knowledge but lack of love for the crucified Jesus Christ that makes us so poor and inefficient in brotherly confession.

"In daily, earnest living with the Cross of Christ the Christian loses the spirit of human censoriousness on the one hand and weak indulgence on the other, and he receives the spirit of divine severity and divine love. The death of the sinner before God and life that comes out of that death through grace become for him a daily reality. So he loves the brothers with the merciful love of God that leads through the death of the sinner to the life of the child of God. Who can hear our confession? He who himself lives beneath the Cross.

"Wherever the message concerning the Crucified is a vital, living thing, there brotherly confession will also avail."

steward@peacemakers.net