Article Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Reformation Day Sermons and Performative Remembering Theology Today 2017, Vol. 74(3) 252–262 ! The Author(s) 2017 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0040573617721916 journals.sagepub.com/home/ttj Robert Vosloo Stellenbosch University, South Africa Abstract In this article, I examine Bonhoeffer’s relationship to the legacy of the Reformation in the light of some of his remarks, sermons, and meditations related to the celebration of Reformation Day. These engagements, or so this article argues, point to the fact that for Bonhoeffer commemorating the Reformation did not entail mere restatement of seemingly timeless truths, but rather renewed and unscripted engagement with the legacy of the Reformation. This implies a historical hermeneutic which emphasizes that faithfulness to a tradition does not involve mere repetition, but performative and participatory remembering that requires ongoing interpretation, continual improvisation, and creative reenactment and embodiment. With these remarks in mind, this article attends to some of Bonhoeffer’s Reformation Day sermons and meditations against the backdrop of the uses and abuses associated with acts of commemoration and, more pointedly, also in light of the 2017 Reformation 500 celebrations amidst complex forces of imperialism and neo-tribalism. Keywords Bonhoeffer, Reformation, memory, performativity, preaching Introduction While in Tegel prison, Dietrich Bonhoeﬀer wrote a letter to his parents Karl and Paula Bonhoeﬀer, dated 31 October 1943, in which—after thanking his parents for their visit as well as for a packet he had received from them—he observes, ‘‘Today is Reformation Sunday, a day that can evoke a great deal of reﬂection Corresponding author: Robert Vosloo, Stellenbosch University, 171 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa. Email: [email protected] Vosloo 253 again precisely in our time.’’1 For Bonhoeﬀer, then, this day of commemoration gave rise to thought, especially in a time of crisis. Bonhoeﬀer continues his letter by sharing some of his own thoughts in this regard: One wonders why consequences had to arise from Luther’s action that were exactly the opposite of those he intended and that overshadowed his own last years and at times even made him question his life’s work. He wanted an authentic unity of the church and the West, that is of Christian peoples, and the result was the collapse of the church and of Europe; he wanted the ‘‘freedom of the Christian,’’ and the result was complacency and degeneration; he wanted the establishment of an authentically worldly ordering of society without clerical domination, and the result was the insurrection in the peasant’s revolt of his time and soon thereafter the gradual dissolving of all authentic bonds and orders of life.2 Bonhoeﬀer is clearly aware—like many historians today as well3—of the unintended consequences of the Reformation. He is, of course, also grappling with the possible inadvertent consequences of his own actions, as well as that of his friends, fellow conspirators, and the Confessing church. One senses in Bonhoeﬀer’s observation not some form of triumphant rhetoric on the legacy of the Reformation, but rather something of a self-critical grappling with the ambivalence of his own faith tradition, and his own participation in it. In this Reformation Day letter to his parents Bonhoeﬀer also recalls a debate from his student days between his Berlin teachers Karl Holl and Adolf von Harnack on whether great intellectual movements succeeded as a result of their primary or secondary motives. Holl opted for the ﬁrst answer, while Von Harnack asserted the second. Bonhoeﬀer notes in his letter that at the time he thought that Holl was right, but that he now thinks otherwise. Bonhoeﬀer’s renewed reﬂection on this discussion between Holl and Von Harnack indicates, in part at least, his hesitation about oﬀering mono-causal explanations for complex historical phenomena. Bonhoeﬀer also evokes in the context of these ideas Kierkegaard’s statement that ‘‘Luther today would say the opposite of what he said back then.’’4 By recollecting this assertion by Kierkegaard, Bonhoeﬀer gives us a further glimpse into his way of theologizing about important historical ﬁgures and traditions. 1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English (DBWE), 8, 172. 2. Ibid. The remark that Luther questioned his life’s work towards the end of his life in the light of the unintended consequences of the Reformation reminds one of the more elaborate discussion of the young Bonhoeffer in a seminar paper he wrote for Karl Holl. See ‘‘Luther’s Feelings about His Work as Expressed in the Final Years of his Life Based on His Correspondence of 1540–1546,’’ DBWE, 9, 257–284. 3. See, for instance, Brad S. Gregory, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Movement Secularized Society (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2012). In this study Gregory argues that ‘‘the Reformation’s influence on the eventual secularization of society was complex, largely indirect, far from immediate, and profoundly unintended’’ (2). 4. DBWE, 8, 173. 254 Theology Today 74(3) Clearly for him reﬂection on the legacy of the Reformation is not primarily about quoting some of Luther words or in reiterating the Reformation solas. No, there is a diﬀerent hermeneutic at work in Bonhoeﬀer’s engagement with his own theological legacy, one that points to the idea that what is required in commemorating the Reformation is not a mere restatement of seemingly timeless truths, but a renewed and unscripted engagement with the legacy of the Reformation ‘‘in our time,’’ thus amidst the turmoil and challenges of ‘‘today.’’ One can say, or so this article will argue, that such a historical hermeneutic is not about mere repetition, but about performative and participatory remembering, requiring what Catherine Pickstock calls non-identical repetition.5 Such a performative remembrance points to the need for ongoing interpretation, continual improvisation, and creative reenactment and embodiment. With this remark in mind, this article attends to some of Bonhoeﬀer’s Reformation Day sermons and meditations against the backdrop of the uses and abuses associated with acts of commemoration and, more pointedly, also in light of the 2017 Reformation 500 celebrations amidst complex forces of global imperialism and neo-tribalism. Reformation Day, Our Protest and God’s Protest In the Dietrich Bonhoeﬀer Works we have access to a couple of his sermons preached on Reformation Sunday. In this article I will pay special attention to a sermon he preached at a university worship service in the Dreifältigkeitskirche (Trinity Church) in Berlin on 6 November 1932, just a few months before Hitler became Chancellor. In focusing on Bonhoeﬀer’s sermons and sermon meditations, one is mindful of the importance of preaching for Bonhoeﬀer’s understanding of the theological task and his own calling. As Eberhard Bethge notes in his Bonhoeﬀer biography, ‘‘Only as a preacher was he fully present; here he devoted himself without any reservations or qualiﬁcations. Preaching was the great event for him. His severe theologizing and critical love for his church were all for its sake, for preaching proclaimed the message of Christ, the bringer of peace. For Bonhoeﬀer nothing in his calling competed in importance with preaching.’’6 Bonhoeﬀer’s scriptural text for his sermon on Reformation Sunday in early November 1932 Bonhoeﬀer was Revelation 2:4–5, where we read, But I have this against you, that you abandoned the love you had at ﬁrst. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at ﬁrst. If not, I will come to you and remove the lampstand from its place, unless you repent . . . Let everyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God. 5. See Catherine Pickstock, Repetition and Identity (Oxford: Oxford University, 2013), 46. 6. Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), 234. Vosloo 255 What did Bonhoeﬀer say in his sermon in the light of this text and also convey the feeling of crisis that permeated the spirit of the times? In his editorial introduction to Creation and Fall (volume 3 of DBWE) John de Gruchy refers to the winter of 1932 as a winter of profound discontent in Germany, ‘‘a time of confusion, anxiety, and, for many, false hope, as social and political upheavals led to the demise of the Weimar Republic and the birth of the Third Reich.’’7 Amidst these circumstances Bonhoeﬀer opens his sermon by aﬃrming the crisis of the times, stating that ‘‘we are in the eleventh hour of the life of the Protestant church.’’8 But he provides no cheap comfort in the light of this diagnosis, since in his view the trumpet fanfares associated with the celebrations on Reformation Day only bear witness to the fact that Germany is at death’s door and that, in fear of its own future, it is drumming up courage through loud words to face the terror of death that is secretly alive in its heart. It is similar to children whistling in the dark when they walk down a dark street in order to convince themselves that they are not afraid. This manufactured courage is also present in the church. Bonhoeﬀer comments, The Church of the Reformation, which secretly knows that it is separated from the Reformation by an abyss and is already shuddering at the approach of death, sings with desperate courage, ‘‘A mighty fortress is our God’’ . . . In celebrating the Reformation, the church can’t leave old Luther in peace. He has to suﬀer for the terrible things that are going on in the church today . . . Though he is dead, we prop him up in our church and make him hold out his hand, gesture towards the church, and keep saying over and over those self-conﬁdent words with all their pathos, ‘‘Here I stand—I can do no other’’ . . . It is simply untruthful, or unforgiveable to take refuge behind these words. We can indeed do otherwise, or at least we should be able to do.9 Bonhoeﬀer further interrogates the way in which the Protestant church sees protest as among its traditional obligations. This protest takes on diﬀerent forms, often against secularism, or Catholicism, or even against those who do not take notice of our protest. In light of this, Bonhoeﬀer writes, not without a touch of irony, ‘‘Oh, how easily we protest, with what passion and self-conﬁdence, since we have a documented right to do so. What a splendid day this is. ‘We protest!’ is 7. DBWE, 3, 1. One can also recall Bonhoeffer’s own remarks about the crisis of the times at the International Youth Conference in Gland on August 29, 1932: ‘‘Things are coming to a crisis more horribly than ever before—millions of starving people whose wishes have been put off or unfulfilled, desperate people who have nothing to lose but their lives and who with their lives lose nothing—humiliated and degraded nations, who are not able to recover their dishonor—political extremes against political extremes, fanaticized against fanaticized, false gods against false gods—and behind all of this, a world bristling with weapons as never before, a world that is feverishly mobilizing for war, in order to guarantee peace through armaments, a world whose false gods have become the world ‘security’’’ (DBWE, 11, 378–379). 8. DBWE, 12, 439. 9. Ibid., 441 256 Theology Today 74(3) our cry. But God says, ‘But I have this against you . . . ,’ meaning ‘I protest.’ God protests—against whom? Against us and our protest!’’10 For Bonhoeﬀer the commemoration of the Reformation is, therefore, not in the ﬁrst place about the aﬃrmation and rallying of the protest of Protestants, but about the memory of God’s protest, also God’s protest against Protestants. But secretly, Bonhoeﬀer continues, we know we are not up to God’s protest, and that is why the church makes so much noise on Reformation Sunday, ‘‘hammering wrong ideas into the heads of thousands of schoolchildren, only so that they don’t notice our weakness, so that we can forget it ourselves.’’11 For Bonhoeﬀer this is not the way to celebrate the Reformation, hence his stern warning: ‘‘Let us stop celebrating the Reformation that way! Let us leave the dead Luther to rest at long last, and instead listen to the gospel, reading the Bible, hearing God’s own word in it. At the last judgment God is certainly not going to ask us not, ‘Have you celebrated Reformation Day properly?’ but rather, ‘Have you heard my word and kept it.’’’12 Reformation and repentance Bonhoeﬀer continues his sermon by elaborating on the words from Revelation 2:4: ‘‘But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at ﬁrst,’’ aiming in the process to make the congregation feel the full weight of these words. This brings him to comment on the words following this accusation in the biblical text, namely ‘‘Remember then from what you have fallen: repent, and do the works you did at ﬁrst.’’ For Bonhoeﬀer it was this call that led Luther to do what he did. ‘‘The Church of the Reformation,’’ states Bonhoeﬀer, ‘‘is the church of those who expose themselves to this call . . . The Church that stands in repentance, the church that lets God be God, is the church of the apostles and Luther.’’13 For Bonhoeﬀer then—preaching on this text in the context of the rise of Nazism in Germany—the church’s remembrance of its past should be the sort of remembrance that makes it possible for the church to heed the call to repentance. Speaking amidst the groundswell of a style of commemoration in Germany that would increasingly reify the past for ideological gains, Bonhoeﬀer’s emphasis on the language of repentance indicates something of how he understood the heart of the message of the Reformation and how it could speak to his own time. It is interesting to compare Bonhoeﬀer’s Reformation Day sermon of 1932 to his sermon meditation for the commemoration of the Reformation at Finkenwalde 10. Ibid. 11. DBWE, 12, 441. 12. DBWE, 8. This point is often made by Bonhoeffer. A decade later, for instance, Bonhoeffer states in ‘‘A Theological Position Paper on the Question of Baptism’’: ‘‘Luther’s Reformation came not from the attempt to realize a better, perhaps ‘original Christian’ ideal of church-community, but rather from the new recognition of the gospel from Holy Scripture.’’ See DBWE, 16, 569. 13. DBWE 12, 444. Vosloo 257 four years later (dated 25 October 1936), again using Revelation 2:1–7 as text. The tone of this meditation is clearly more pastoral, emphasizing that Christ speaks to the church community in a friendly way: ‘‘Christ knows the work being done in our Confessing church and church-communities . . . He neither shatters nor destroys us, being instead present himself wherever the fate of his church-community is at stake.’’14 Yet Bonhoeﬀer does point to the fact that Christ accuses his church community. Christ stands against his own Confessing Church community, since ‘‘much is so harsh, so self-assured, as if it was a matter of defending oneself. Much was said and done simply in one’s own interest, for the sake of one’s own assurance.’’15 The Confessing Church too is in danger of forgetting its ﬁrst love, since—as Bonhoeﬀer writes—‘‘our hearts cling to many other things, to the world, to security, to habit.’’16 The church, however, is called to remember the ﬁrst love (that is, Christ), and remember from what they have fallen. This remembrance is, in Bonhoeﬀer’s words, ‘‘the basis of all reformation, not gloriﬁcation of human beings or of past history, not Lutheran slogans, but rather gratefully to hear God’s summons to repentance.’’17 In this meditation, too, as in the Reformation Day sermon from 1932, Bonhoeﬀer links remembrance to repentance, and repentance to Christ. This link between reformation and a christological focus—as reﬂected in his 1936 Reformation Day meditation—is also well expressed in a later letter of Bonhoeﬀer to Ruth Roberta Stahlberg, dated 20 March 1940. Bonhoeﬀer writes, I must add that something in me protests very powerfully against all longings for reformation. In the past four hundred years and up to the most recent era, we have experienced them almost without interruption in the most varied forms, and all of them have resulted—I must add, thank God—in nothing. The only true Reformation sprang not from so-called longing for reformation, but rather from a single, newly given biblical rediscovery that then in and of itself . . . broke open the church and renewed it . . . The liveliest longings for reformation in our church in the last four hundred years have always resembled the not particularly respectful intention of fashionably dressing up one’s elderly mother so as not to have to be ashamed of her. I do not wish to dispute that there is also a true desire for renewal in the church, but we can easily distinguish between true and false by asking whether we are more concerned about doing something new or about Jesus Christ.18 True reformation for Bonhoeﬀer, therefore, requires a focus on Christ, and such a christological focus cannot be separated from the call to repentance. 14. DBWE, 15, 954, 955. 15. Ibid., 955. 16. Ibid., 956, 17. Ibid. 18. DBWE, 16, 37. 258 Theology Today 74(3) Commemorating the Reformation? As Protestant Christians and churches commemorate the 500th anniversary of the 16thcentury Protestant Reformation in 2017, it is worthwhile keeping these words of Bonhoeﬀer in mind, as well as the historical hermeneutic underlying his thinking. A faithful commemoration of the Reformation, one can argue, following Bonhoeﬀer, requires listening to God’s word anew in a spirit of repentance amidst the challenges of our time—challenges that are certainly diﬀerent from those Luther (and Bonhoeﬀer) had to face in their day. It is therefore quite apt that Martin Marty organizes his recent little book October 31 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World around the notion of repentance, ﬁnding support of course in the ﬁrst of Luther’s 95 theses: ‘‘When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Matthew 4:17), he intended the entire life of believers to be repentance.’’19 Such a focus on repentance certainly challenges any attempts to celebrate the Reformation in a spirit of triumphalism that neglects the historical ambivalent nature of the legacy of the Reformation as well as the convictions that lie at the heart of this theological tradition. The emphasis on repentance—as found in the theology of Luther and Bonhoeﬀer—also poses important challenges for the public witness of the church in our world today. As Jennifer McBride has rightly noted in her book The Church for the World: A Theology of Public Witness, ‘‘The triumphalistic tendencies of Christian public presence today require a renewed shift in our thinking about repentance, one that will reform the church’s public witness and shape its redemptive activity in a pluralistic society. Repositioning and reinterpreting repentance as central and nonnegotiable for Christian life and thought has proven, historically, to be a catalyst for needed reformations.’’20 It is, furthermore, often—and rightly—pointed out that the 2017 Reformation celebrations require an ecumenical and global focus. The 2013 report From Conﬂict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017, for instance, mentions some important challenges that provide opportunities and obligations for the commemorative process: (1) It is the ﬁrst commemoration to take place during the ecumenical age. Therefore, the common commemoration is an occasion to deepen communion between Catholics and Lutherans. (2) It is the ﬁrst commemoration in the age of globalization. Therefore, the common commemoration must incorporate the experiences and perspectives of Christians from South and North, East and West. (3) It is the ﬁrst commemoration that must deal with the necessity of a new evangelization marked by both the proliferation of new religious movements and, at the same time, the growth of secularization in many places.21 19. Martin E. Marty, October 31 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World (Brewster, MA: Paraclete, 2016), 4–5. 20. Jennifer M. McBride, The Church for the World: A Theology of Public Witness (Oxford: Oxford University, 2012), 59. 21. The Lutheran World Federation and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 (Leipzig: Evangelische, 2013), 11. Vosloo 259 These are important insights and it should also be reiterated that the ‘‘the age of globalization’’ (to use the words of the report) in which the Reformation is celebrated is also marked by growing polarization and hardened identity constructs, as recent geopolitical events such as Brexit and the United States presidential election testify. In such a climate the link between commemorations and the quest for the aﬃrmation and consolidation of identity should be taken into account. In his important work Memory, History, Forgetting the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, in a chapter on the exercise of memory, discusses at length what he refers to as the uses and abuses of memory. Ricoeur places the abuse of natural memory on three levels, namely the pathological-therapeutic level (given the reality of wounded or blocked memory), the practical level (the level of manipulated memory), and the ethico-political level (entailing the felt obligation or duty to remember the past). For our purposes here I am especially interested in Ricoeur’s second level, namely the practical level associated with the manipulation of memory. For Ricoeur this instrumentalization and manipulation of memory is associated with ‘‘the mobilization of memory in the service of the quest, the appeal, the demand for identity.’’22 The diseases of memory (and one can add, commemoration) are closely intertwined with the diseases of identity. In his award-winning book Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence Rabbi Jonathan Sacks too points to some of the temptations associated with the demand for identity. He writes, ‘‘Identity has returned. The tribes are back and ﬁghting more ﬁercely than ever. The old sources of conﬂict, religion and ethnicity, are claiming new victims.’’23 Sacks remarks in the light of the complex relationship between religion and violence that religion is not necessarily the cause of violence (as is often assumed), but that violence is fundamentally linked with identity constructs and to life in groups (with the concomitant division of the world into ‘‘Us’’ and ‘‘Them’’). Sacks speaks in this regard of the danger of what he calls pathological dualism, according to which one sees ‘‘humanity itself as radically, ontologically divided into the unimpeachably good and the irredeemably bad.’’24 Although violence may be possible wherever there is an Us and a Them, ‘‘radical violence emerges only when we see the Us as all-good and Them as all-evil, heralding a war between the children of light and the children of darkness.’’25 22. Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2004). 23. Jonathan Sacks, Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence (New York: Schocken, 2015), 41. Cf. also the chapter ‘‘Back to Tribes’’ in Zygmunt Bauman, Retrotopia (Malden, MA: Polity, 2017), 49–85. Bauman ends his provocatively titled book with the following comment: ‘‘There are no shortcuts leading to a quick, adroit and effortless damming of the ‘back to’ currents—whether to Hobbes, to tribes, to inequality or to the womb . . . We need to brace ourselves for a long period marked by more questions than answers and more problems than solutions, as well as for acting in the shadow of finely balanced chances of success and defeat . . . More than in any other time we—human inhabitants of the Earth—are in the either/ or situation: we face joining either hands, or common graves’’ (166–167). 24. Ibid., 51. 25. Ibid., 48. 260 Theology Today 74(3) The commemoration of the Reformation indeed calls for reﬂection ‘‘in a time like this,’’ in a way similar to what Bonhoeﬀer indicated in his Reformation Day letter to his parents in October 1943. It oﬀers the opportunity for a robust theological conversation about the theology that lies at the heart of the Reformation legacy. In addition, one could argue that this conversation should be accompanied by a critical reﬂection on the uses and misuses associated with commemorations. It is important to note that in the year following Bonhoeﬀer’s 1932 Reformation Day sermon, preached in the fall of 1933, the 450th anniversary of Luther’s birth was celebrated with great fanfare, with celebrations—also in Wittenberg—linking Luther to ‘‘the new German Spirit.’’ The Nazi leadership as well as German Christians capitalized on this commemoration. It is against this background that we can view the ‘‘Declaration to the Reich Church Government’’ drafted by a group of German pastors (including Bonhoeﬀer) at a pastoral conference in Bradford in England (dated 29 November 1933). This declaration is highly critical of recent events in the ‘‘German Christian Faith Movement’’ and ends with the words: ‘‘In indignation and shame over the attacks on the substance of the Protestant faith, we express our hope and expectation, for the sake of the unity and purity of the church, in this Luther anniversary year 1933 and on the occasion of the enthronement of the Reich bishop, that the German Evangelical Church will remain for all time the church of the Reformation.’’26 The contestation between German Christians and the Confessing Church on what it means to be the church of the Reformation, also explains the statement in the section ‘‘What is Reformation?’’ in the Bethel Confession that reads, ‘‘The essence of the Reformation is consciousness of the Holy Scriptures, submission to the Holy Scriptures. For the Reformation, Martin Luther is the teacher who is obedient to the Holy Scriptures. To see the German spirit or the origin of the modern concept of freedom or as the foundation of a new religion, goes against his own word.’’27 In commemorating the Reformation one should therefore be mindful of the way in which past commemorations served particular agendas, mindful in the process of how our own, often hidden, agendas undergird our commemorative practices. In this context one could recall Tzvetan Todorov’s comment: ‘‘While history makes the past more complicated, commemoration makes it simpler, since it most often supplies us with heroes to worship or with enemies to detest, it deals in desecration and consecration.’’28 26. DBWE, 13, 50. 27. DBWE, 12, 380. 28. Tzvetan T. Todorov, Hope and Memory: Reflections on the Twentieth Century (London: Atlantic, 2014 ), 133. Vosloo 261 Performative Remembrance and the Lord of the Promise Bonhoeﬀer’s sermons and reﬂections on Reformation Day reveal his sensitivity towards the abuse of commemorations in the service of a self-congratulatory engagement with the past, a type of romantic remembrance, which makes it impossible for the church to hear and respond to God’s call to repentance. We should further note that for Bonhoeﬀer repentance is accompanied by obedient embodiment. Therefore Bonhoeﬀer reminds his hearers in his Reformation Day sermon in 1932 that the call to repent in Revelation 2 is followed by the words ‘‘and do the works you did at ﬁrst.’’ Bonhoeﬀer acknowledges in his sermon that it might not sound appropriate to speak about works on Reformation Sunday, but for him ‘‘it would be a dreadful misunderstanding of the gospel to say that faith and repentance are just something for our morning and evening devotions. Faith and repentance mean letting God be God, and that means also in what we do—especially in what we do, to be obedient to God.’’29 In his 1936 Reformation Day meditation Bonhoeﬀer again emphasizes the need for repentance and embodied obedience when he writes, ‘‘Perform those ﬁrst works.’’30 Commemoration is therefore not to be separated from to the faithful embodiment of the gospel.31 In Bonhoeﬀer’s words, ‘‘We should make a reformation rather than celebrate one.’’32 This points towards what can be called a participatory or performative remembrance, in which remembrance and commemoration are linked to repentance and concrete obedience. Bonhoeﬀer is well aware that the church of his day is doing many things, but the question still remains, ‘‘Do we love God and our neighbour with that ﬁrst, passionate, burning love?’’ It is interesting to note that in one of his other Reformation Day sermons, preached in London on 4 November 1934, the theme of love is also central, with 1 Corinthians 13:13 as his text. He planned his sermon series in such a way that this text is read on Reformation Sunday. In this sermon Bonhoeﬀer argues that faith cannot be separated from love. ‘‘For the message of the faith that alone saves and redeems has become hardened, a dead letter, because it has not been kept alive by love.’’33 Bonhoeﬀer ends his 1932 Reformation Day sermon on a serious note, quoting from the verse ‘‘I will remove the lampstand from its place, unless you repent.’’ Bonhoeﬀer even speaks of the ‘‘destroying God.’’ Celebrating the Reformation under the sign of repentance therefore challenges cheap claims to greatness, or loud, over-conﬁdent, and self-righteous protest statements, but rather aﬃrm the 29. DBWE, 12, 444. 30. DBWE, 15, 956. 31. See also in this regard Bonhoeffer’s discussion of ‘‘costly grace’’ in Discipleship (DBWE, 4), especially 53. 32. DBWE, 15, 956. 33. DBWE, 13, 392. Bonhoeffer strongly emphasizes the bond between faith and love: ‘‘Let no one think it is possible to have love without faith and faith without love. Love without faith would be a stream without a source’’ (395). 262 Theology Today 74(3) seriousness of God’s call, the God about whom Leonard Cohen sings: ‘‘You want it darker.’’34 But for Bonhoeﬀer the allusion to the destroying God is not the last word, since the destroying God is also the Lord of the promise, the one that gives permission to eat from the tree of life. Therefore in commemorating the Reformation, we can also attune ourselves to Bonhoeﬀer’s words at the end of his 1932 sermon: ‘‘The future frightens us. But the promise comforts us. Blessed are those who are called to it.’’35 Author biography Robert Vosloo is professor in Systematic Theology at the faculty of theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. 34. See the title track on Leonard Cohen’s album You Want it Darker (Columbia Records, 2016). 35. DBWE, 12, 446.