Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I watched a PBS presentation on Bonhoeffer last night. The show was really well done with interviews with his students, his best friend from when he was teaching in the seminary in northern Germany, the sister of the young woman he proposed to . . . and of course they included many of his own words from his books and letters.

His understanding that faith had to have concrete expression in the world - which did not allow him to ignore the Nazis' actions - is compelling. His willingness to identify with the hurting and marginalized people, abdicating his position of safety to risk death with even those who did not share his faith, is truly a story of the presence of Christ.

He obviously wrestled with the meaning of faith - pursuing with sincerity what he believed was truly faithful, while struggling with profound questions.

As much as he believed that his faithful duty was to oppose Hitler, and even to try and kill him, the events show that it was not God's will that Hitler die by another's hand. I don't intend to defend God's choices . . . God has mercy on whom he has mercy.

I have no doubt that Bonhoeffer was faithful and pleasing to God even though what he tried to accomplish God did not wish to do. Instead of bringing a tyrant to the grave, God gave the church a martyr . . . and a clear voice that needs to be heard today.


A said...

Wow Greg, really well said about what Bonhoeffer's legacy is to us today. I've long been a Bonhoeffer "fan", but when I saw that same documentary a few weeks ago here on our PBS station (It was really well done for sure), I learned some things I didn't know about him and came away with a much greater respect for a man I consider a giant of the faith in the 20th Century. Thanks for this post.

Frank Bellizzi said...

Good write-up, Greg. What I really like about that documentary is how it reveals the political setting of Bonhoeffer's decisions and words. After seeing that one, I went back and read some of "Letters and Papers" and heard it more clearly.