July 18, 2021


The courageous faith of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (J John,  13 July 2021, Christianity Today)

In July 1944, Bonhoeffer's imprisonment became more severe and he was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. The accounts we have of him at this time describe him as a man of peace, full of grace and kindness, and occupied in pastoring and counselling those about him.

In the spring of 1945, Bonhoeffer's name was linked with an old plot against Hitler and his execution ordered. He was hanged on 9 April 1945, just two weeks before the camp was liberated. His last recorded words were, 'This is the end - for me the beginning of life.'

I find at least four striking things in the faith of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

First, his faith was displayed in doing. Bonhoeffer could have stayed an academic theologian quietly writing. Instead, he insisted that Christianity had to be lived out and to be a disciple of Christ was to do something. Beliefs must have consequences: whether it was to work for good or against evil. Bonhoeffer was no armchair Christian and we shouldn't be either.

Second, his faith was displayed in daring. One of the first German Christians to denounce Hitler, Bonhoeffer worked against Nazism for 12 years, knowing that at any moment he could be - as ultimately he was - arrested, imprisoned and killed. It's particularly hard not to be impressed by how, having made the safety of New York in 1939, Bonhoeffer then took the boat back to Germany. We could do with a lot more daring today.

Third, his faith was displayed in defying. Faced with a threatening government and a church that remained silent, Bonhoeffer spoke out boldly against both. There are times when we, too, need to stand up and speak boldly.

Finally, and it's uncomfortable, Bonhoeffer's faith was displayed in dying. As he wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, 'When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.' And with typical consistency that is exactly what Bonhoeffer did.

Posted by at July 18, 2021 12:00 AM