Sunday, May 26, 2024

Your Life As A Christian


Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) has, in my opinion, never quite gotten the love and attention he should have by the Western Church.  A German who became a pastor in the 1930's, he was determined opponent of Hitler and the Nazi regime.   A leader in the Confessing Church (created to oppose the established church's obedience to the state), he spent time both in London and the United States in the late 1930's, but return to Germany prior to the outbreak of war because, as he wrote:

"I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America this time.  I must live through this difficult period in our national history along with the people of Germany.  I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share this time of trials with my people...Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that a future Christian nation may survive, or else willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying our civilization and any true Christianity.  I know which one of these alternatives I must choose, but I cannot make that choice from a place of security." (source)

Monitored by the Nazis and forbidden to preach or write, he joined the Abwehr (German intelligence) and served as conduit for the German resistance and helped Jews escape.  He was likely knowledgeable of the plots to kill Hitler.  Imprisoned in 1943, he was executed on 08 April 1945, weeks before the concentration camp he was in was reached by the Allies.

The books translated into English which are most often quoted are The Cost of Discipleship, Ethics, and a compilation of his letters from prison presented as Letters and Papers from Prison, considered one of the finest series of letters of prison and compared with Vaclav Havel's Letters to Olga.

It is a shame he has not gotten the attention, because the time of his major works was time very similar to our own in terms of political acrimony, national disunity, and a church which was ineffective.  He never pulls his punches - one of the lines in The Cost of Discipleship is "When God calls a man, He bids him come and die".  He followed Christ at great cost to himself, his life, and his earthly future.

Which makes his unspoken question even more profound:  Are we - me, you - the sort of Christian that makes an unbeliever question their unbelief?


  1. Thank you for sharing this, TB.
    You all be safe and God bless.

    1. You are welcome, Linda. I truly believe he does not get the recognition he deserves here in the West.

  2. TB, I don't know very deeply or concretely the influence Bonhoeffer had in his life (and has through his words, still), but I know he was a man of conviction, and that he was executed for whatever part he had in the German resistance. This post makes me admire him all the more.

    1. Becki, he is quite an inspiration. And his books are well worth reading.


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