admiring Jesus vs. taking him seriously

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a lecture given while serving as a pastor in Barcelona, at age 22:

“One admires Christ according to aesthetic categories as an aesthetic genius, calls him the greatest ethicist; one admires his going to his death as a heroic sacrifice for his ideas. Only one thing one doesn’t do: one doesn’t take him seriously. That is, one doesn’t bring the center of his or her own life into contact with the claim of Christ to speak the revelation of God and to be that revelation. One maintains a distance between himself or herself and the word of Christ, and allows no serious encounter to take place. I can doubtless live with or without Jesus as a religious genius, as an ethicist, as a gentlemen – just as, after all, I can also live without Plato and Kant…Should, however, there be something in Christ that claims my life entirely with the full seriousness that here God himself speaks and if the word of once became present only in Christ, then Christ has not only relative but absolute, urgent significance for me.”

Quoted in Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

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