Bonhoeffer, the man
Who was Dietrich Bonhoeffer?
According to Eric Metaxas, North American writer, he was a pastor, martyr, prophet and spy.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, born in February 4, 1906, was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confession Church.
His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book “The Cost of Discipleship” is a modern classic.
Bonhoeffer was also known for his staunch resistance to Nazi dictatorship. He vocally opposed Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews.
For these reasons, and for his participation in an attempt against Hitler’s life, he was sent to a Nazi concentration camp and executed by hanging on April 9, 1945.
Bonhoeffer was arrested in April 1943 by Gestapo and imprisioned at Tegel prison for one and a half year. During this time his family and friends could visit him and he kept in contact with them, and his fiancé, through correspondence.
From there he was transferred to Gestapo’s prison and after being associated with the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was quickly tried and executed. His death happened on the verge of the collapse of the Nazi regime.
Bonhoeffer lived and breathed his theology.
According to him a Christian could not worship God and accept the truths of Old and New Testament, of Israel being the chosen people of God, and support an anti-Jew regime that souk the death and destruction of God’s own people.
During his life Bonhoeffer had many opportunities to stay quiet and to quiet accept what was happening in his country. He also had opportunities to stay outside of Germany. He was offered a job as theology teacher in United States just before the start of the war.
His friends in ecumenical movement around the world actively tried to find a way for him to avoid the fate they saw happening to him for certain in Germany. The death that finally did come to him.
Bonhoeffer himself felt he couldn’t abandon his country and his fellow citizens at such a critical moment. He said it would be against his principals, his theology and his God, not to help the Jews in Germany. And not to fight against the evil incarnate – Hitler and Nazi ideology.
His place was in Germany, with his people and his church.
Bonhoeffer – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Eric Metaxas takes the different strands of Bonhoeffer’s life and draws them together to tell a searing story of incredible moral courage in the face of monstrous evil.
Metaxas uses previously unavailable documents, including personal letters, detailed journal entries, and firsthand personal accounts, to reveal dimensions of Bonhoeffer’s life and theology never before seen.
Metaxas presents the fullest accounting this far of Bonhoeffer’s heart-wrenching 1939 decision to leave the safe haven of America for Hitler’s Germany. He uses extended excerpts from love letters and coded messages written to and from Bonhoeffer’s Cell 92 to tell, for the first time, the full story of Bonhoeffer’s passionate and tragic romance.
The book offers fresh insight and revelations about life-changing months at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. And about Bonhoeffer’s radical position on why Christians are obliged to stand up for the Jews.
The reader will find new information on Bonhoeffer’s reaction to Kristallnach, his involvement in the famous Valkyrie plot and in “Operation 7”, the effort to smuggle Jews into neutral Switzerland.
This is a witness to one man’s extraordinary faith and to the tortured faith of the nation Bonhoeffer sought to deliver from the curse of Nazism.
On reading the book you will be brought face to face with a man determined to do the will of God. A man who is prepared to follow his faith joyfully, no matter how radical the track and how much courage it requires.
Bonhoeffer calls us to find passion for truth and a commitment to justice on behalf of those who face implacable evil. For him, that is what Christian faith is about.
By loving forces... (Original in German by Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
By loving forces silently surrounded,
I feel quite soothed, secure, and filled with grace.
So I would like to live these days together,
and go with you into another year.
Still matters of the past are pressing our hearts
and evil days are weighing down on us.
Oh Lord, to our souls, so scared and sore,
give rescue, as it's that you made us for.
And when you pass to us the bitter chalice
of suffering, filled to the brim and more,
we take it, full of thanks and trembling not,
from this, your caring and beloved hand.
But if you want to please us, over and again,
with our shining sun and wondrous world,
let us muse on what is past, and then we shall,
with our lives, in all belong to you.
Warm and bright be our candles' flame today,
since into gloom you brought a gleaming light,
and lead again us, if you will, together!
We know it: you are beaming in the night.
When silence now will snow around us ev'rywhere,
so let us hear the all-embracing sound
of greater things than we can see and wider,
your world, and all your children's soaring hail.
By loving forces wonderfully sheltered,
we are awaiting fearlessly what comes.
God is with us at dusk and in the morning
and most assuredly on ev'ry day.
Translation by Hilmar H. Werner, 2010