Summary Of ' What Is Meant By Telling The Truth? '

1220 Words Aug 20th, 2015 5 Pages
In his essay “What is Meant by ‘Telling the Truth?’” truth telling became a case study as he strived for “free and responsible action in concrete times and concrete places.” Telling the truth is not a simple endeavour. This claim is supported in various ways as words itself actually can “become” untrue, silence can be a lie and there are different modes of speech for different relationship. For the “more complex” the relationship, the “more difficult” the task of telling the truth becomes. Two other contributing factors are considered. Firstly, telling the truth has to be learnt, for sin has distorted the created order. In short, it is not “childs play.” Secondly, telling the truth is not just “brute fact” but rather “the real is to be expressed in words. That is what constitutes truthful speech.” It is in this second aspect were Bonhoeffer does not provide examples but rather principles. True to his belief that ethics needed to situated in specific time and place, he acknowledges that language changes and finding the ‘right’ words “always lies within the confines of the particular office which I discharge. If I overstep these limits my speech becomes importunate, presumptuous and whether it be blame or praise, offensive.”

Conversely, Bonhoeffer 's notion (vicarious representative action) could be a justification for doing the unethical, for what “sin” can an individual undergo? But it is important to note that Bonhoeffer argues that it is not a matter decision between a…
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