I never paid much attention to history in school, maybe because every important event in history was given to me with a number and fact. I didn’t even read, The Diary of Anne Frank. When we watched Anne Frank’s movie in school, I remember seeing my teacher standing on the side of the classroom with tears in her eyes, not saying a word. I saw she didn’t want to talk about the ugliness of war even though I knew it was a big part of the story.
I’ve seen movies on World War II, even made a video about it myself but it wasn’t until I over heard my dad watching a video on-line about an author who wrote a book about a German theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was I suddenly interested to learn more. First I was surprised to learn there was a Christian German man who was a theologian, pastor, martyr and spy.
The author was quoting Bonhoeffer, “‘Speak out for those who cannon speak.'” Who in the church today realize that this is the very least that the Bible requires of us?” I thought about the context in which this was said and knew learning about this man’s story was important.
What the book so brilliantly does is takes you on a journey from World War I to World War II with Bonhoeffer as your protagonist. You are right there in this young intelligent theologian line of thought, taking the narrow road. I started to ask myself the same questions, “What does God require of me in this time of history.” Bonhoeffer knew Hitler was bad news even in the early days. He knew any man who claimed he was “the salvation for man” was trouble waiting to happen. Bonhoeffer tried his best to speak to the church, preaching sermons like, “The Jewish Question”, bringing to light that the church must not only speak out for those who can not but to stand by their side and help them.
Bonhoeffer knew that a church that did not stand with the Jews was not the church of Jesus Christ…He saw this clearly and would stake everything on it. But it would be a long and lonely road. – Eric Metaxas, author
Bonhoeffer wrote to high church officials pleading that they do something:
“To delay or fail to make decisions may be more sinful than to make wrong decisions out of faith and love…in this particular case it really is now or never…….We must shake off our fear of this world-the cause of Christ is at stake, and are we to be found sleeping? …Christ is looking down at us and asking whether there is anyone left who confesses faith in him” – Bonhoeffer
During those times Bonhoeffer wrote a few books such as, The Cost of Discipleship and Ethics, in context these were written is very trouble times. He was devoted to God like no one I have ever read in modern day history. He read and knew his word but most fascinating, lived it. He read his word as though it was God’s word to him personally. He even had a seminary school that was later shut down by the Gestapo.
As time went on and things got worse, he knew he might be one of the very few who were able to act and intervene.
“Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. The Christian is called to sympathy and action, not in the first place by his own sufferings, but by the sufferings of his brethren, for whose sake Christ suffered.” – Bonhoeffer
When it seems like the church wasn’t going to do anything about what was taking place in Germany, he teamed up with his brother, brother-in-law and friends to plot against Hitler. He believed in bring God into his reality.
The evilness of the Nazis could not be defeated via old-fashioned, “ethics,” “rules”, and “principles. – Eric Metaxas, author
“Why should it always have to be the bad people who make the revolutions?” – Bonhoeffer
God was interested not in success, but in obedience. If one obeyed God and was willing to suffer defeat and whatever else came one’s way, God would show a kind of success that the world couldn’t imagine. But this was the narrow path and few would take it. – Eric Metaxas, author
“only the believer is obedient, and only he who obeys believes. ” – Bonhoeffer
He risked everything in this battle, as did his brother, his brother-in-law, his friends. – Eric Metaxas, author
Today, we still see injustice all over the world and I see that living in the past doesn’t help but learning about it shows us where to pick up the legacy. So much to be said and discuss after reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer life and WWII. It was great to see so many other people reading the book too, anytime I mentioned it in social media some new stranger would respond. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an amazing theologian but more he was a real Christian. I now see clearly that God created a new community and a new humanity call The Church.
I am still digesting it all.