Home > Love, Piety > The Voice of Thy Brother’s Blood Crieth Unto Me

The Voice of Thy Brother’s Blood Crieth Unto Me


Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1932)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1932) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anger is always an attack on the brother’s life, for it refuses to let him live and aims at his destruction.  Jesus will not accept the common distinction between righteous indignation and unjustifiable anger.  The disciple must be entirely innocent of anger, because anger is an offence against both God and his neighbour.  Every idle word which we think so little of betrays our lack of respect for our neighbour, and shows that we place ourselves on a pinnacle above him and value our own lives higher than his.  The angry word is a blow struck at our brother, a stab at his heart: it seeks to hit, to hurt and to destroy.  A deliberate insult is even worse, for we are then openly disgracing our brother in the eyes of the world, and causing others to despise him.  With our hearts burning with hatred, we seek to annihilate his moral and material existence.  We are passing judgement on him, and that is murder.  And the murderer will himself be judged.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of DiscipleshipMacmillan: New York, 1963.  pp.143-144.

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  1. April 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Makes sense, but how do you reconcile this with Ephesians 4:26?

  2. April 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    That’s a good question. My first answer would be that maybe Bonhoeffer would say that Paul was contradicting Jesus at this point. I’m pretty certain that Bonhoeffer had a different understanding of the inspiration of Scripture than you or I probably would.

    As far as how I would reconcile it…I haven’t considered the issue enough. It’s crossed my mind before but not enough to come up with an answer. Bonhoeffer argues that Matthew’s original version is “Anyone who is angry with his brother…” and that other versions that have “without a cause” are an attempt to take some of the edge off of Jesus’ statement.

    So, now I’ll have to find out. But my reason for posting it was how well it explains why not only murder or physical abuse is against the 5th commandment, but also even the grudge or the bitter word. If we take this seriously it helps us when we bear witness to Christ because it eliminates the possibility of self-righteousness.

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