Reformation Bible College President Speaks AtCBU On Lessons Learned From Bonhoeffer?S Life
Riverside, Calif. (Sept. 25, 2015) – Dr. Steve Nichols, president of Reformation Bible College, talked about the impact of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer during a visit to California Baptist University on Sept. 24.
As part of the School of Christian Ministries Lecture Series, Nichols, the author of several books, addressed faculty, students and area pastors.
Nichols said while Christians need to get their confidence and reassurance from the Bible, they also can look back in church history and see how other faithful disciples lived their Christian lives and responded to the challenges they faced.
"One of the reason I appreciate church history so much is that we get perspective from ages before us," Nichols said. "If all we have is our moment in time as our perspective that is a rather slim horizon from which we can understand things."
Nichols spoke about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi dissident who was sent to a Gestapo prison and eventually killed at age 39. During his 10 years of ministry, Bonhoeffer wrote "Cost of Discipleship." For him, the challenges to a Christian life came from both outside and within the church, Nichols said.
"He knew he would have issues to deal with outside of the church," Nichols said. "I think Bonhoeffer was caught off guard by was how ignorant of the gospel the church itself was."
Bonhoeffer told his congregations that they turn church into a playground for their feelings instead of a place where "God's word is obediently received and believed," Nichols said. Bonhoeffer wrote, "We keep thinking we have God in our power instead of recognizing God's power over us."
Nichols said for Bonhoeffer, the key doctrines were God is holy, man is sinful and the cross is the answer. Bonhoeffer's writings help today's church have a cross-centered approach, Nichols said. At the cross, Christians portray the weakness of Christ to the world that is in need, he explained.
"This is where Bonhoeffer, I think, helps us. The cross, Good Friday – these are moments in the life of Christ that we don't always like to linger on," he said. "We want to jump ahead to resurrection Sunday…but we also need to linger over Good Friday and the cross, because sometimes that's exactly where we find ourselves."