Archive for October 3rd, 2019

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Introduction:  Today’s appointed Psalmody is Psalm 119: 9-16.  Pr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (+9 April, 1945) in his unfinished commentary on the longest single chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, has these sharp observations on verse 9:

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to Your word.

Pr. Bonhoeffer: 

A young man here asks the question of his life, and he asks it not because of flaming idealism or enthusiasm for the good and noble in general, but because he has experienced the power of the Word of God and his own weakness. Does this question about the blameless and pure way sound inconsistent with youth, freedom and affirmation of life?  If so, it is only because we have become accustomed to a very godless conception of youth and are no longer able to understand the power and fullness of life which is found in innocence.  It is very presumptuous and wrongheaded to that a man has to become entangled in the guilt of life in order to know life itself, and finally God.  We do not learn to know life and guilt from own experience, but from God’s judgment of mankind and His grace in the cross of Jesus Christ.

In Bonhoeffer’s time, before World War II, after the utter devastation of the first World War, a youth movement began in Germany that was looking for a leader, (German: Führer) to lead them to a new day. In 1933, after Herr Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Bonhoeffer gave a radio address, “The Younger Generations’ Altered Concept of Leadership” based upon “Führer Princip”, that is, Leader Principle.  It was cut short, probably by the Nazis. Bonhoeffer later gave it again. He did not like this “leader principle”, as it had tones of a political/cultural messiah, Bonhoeffer:

“…the originally matter-of-fact idea of political authority has become the political, messianic concept of the Leader (Fuhrer) as we know it today. Into it there also streams all the religious thought of its adherents. Where the spirit of the people is a divine, metaphysical factor, the Leader who embodies this spirit has religious functions, and is in the proper sense the ‘messiah’.” (single quotes added)

Sound familiar? Every presidential election is now a ‘divine’ election. I wrote an article about this principle at Brothers of John the Steadfast.  

Yet it all started in a youth movement. Just as Pre-Nazi Germany had a large youth movement,we had one in our country the 1960s. Now well into the 21st Century, the younger generation is looking toward a political messiah and this time, a socialist/climate change messiah.  We recently saw the spectacle of a 16 year old in a rant before the UN about climate change and so many extolled her:  ‘How the youth teaches us!’, “How brave!” “What courageous wisdom!” may sum up their sentiment.  In both time periods, youth were extolled as the measure of the good and the noble and the pure.  

It seems to me that n Bonhoeffer’s comments on Psalm 119: 9, he is reflecting a saying of this new understanding of youth, that youth is “pure”. Such a secular philosophy denies original sin and sin is then allowed. Growing up in the 60s, I was told that you have to become thoroughly immersed in “living” to understand life.  No, says Bonhoeffer, based upon God’s Word:  we learn of life, it’s guilt and redemption only in God’s Word.  Only by God’s Word are we made pure by faith in Jesus Christ: young and old and in between.  

I was never directly taught that it is good to be innocent, actually pure, as it was derided as naiveté. Parents then assumed such, as did churches, but schools less and less, and the ‘revolution’, especially the sexual revolutionaries did not at all, but were leading the other way, and the flesh, urged on by the devil, gladly followed. Colleges have become large bedrooms. Certainly, the schools won’t teach purity and especially a peer group, even churches don’t, or will not.  

Look at what youth, unrestricted by any wisdom, Biblical or traditional, wrought in Germany…look at the mayhem in the streets in our day: Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Operation Wall Street, gang violence and the like.   Look what has happened with my generation dictating what we wanted and being heeded and the results:  drugs, pot, ‘free’ love, narcissism, abortion, STDs, AIDs, divorce, living together.  Look at what has been wrought: the denial of the family and my friends replacing my family. ‘Pure’ youth can not create purity. Only the pure and holy Lord God can so redeem. There was a song in the ’60s by The Who, “Talkin’ About My Generation” and we’re still doing it. If talking about the Boomers, Generations X, Y, Z, millenials, heeding the young and experienced, would make it better: It hasn’t. I am tired about talking about my generation…any generation as saviors of our time and this is idolatry. Let’s resume the conversation and prayer with the Lord. Bonhoeffer:

….we have become accustomed to a very godless conception of youth and are no longer able to understand the power and fullness of life which is found in innocence.

No one is good enough to be a savior, God.

Again Bonhoeffer:

“Not good intentions, burning ideals, nor even work and fulfillment of duty can keep the way pure, only God’s Word can do that.

We need the Word of Lord more than ever, beloved in the Lord.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to Your word.

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