Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a story that is alarmingly reflective of potential for disaster.  Born in 1906, Bonhoeffer became a strong opponent of the National Socialism that arose in Germany under the leadership of Hitler.  Along with friends and colleagues Martin Niemoller and Karl Barth he was part of the Confessing Church which was to the forefront of resisting National Socialism and supporting the Jews.  

Bonhoeffer held that there is no way to peace along the way of safety.  Peace is the big adventure.  Bonhoeffer once said this: “The church has three possible ways it can act against the state. First, it can ask the state if its actions are legitimate. Second, it can aid the victims of the state action. The church has the unconditional obligation to the victims of any order in society even if they do not belong to the Christian society. The third possibility is not just bandage the victims under the wheel, but to jam a spoke in the wheel itself.”  It’s this last that Bonhoeffer was prepared to do, no matter the price.  He found himself n the middle of pain and suffering, yet never stopped looking for the will of God.  

He was imprisoned in 1943 because of his leadership within the anti-Nazi Confessing Church and, in fact, was executed not long before the end of the War, in April 1945.  But he never lost the fundamental optimism that his faith provoked.  Writing from prison he says this: “There are two ways of dealing with adversity.  One way, the easiest, is to ignore it altogether.  I have got about as far as that.  The other and more difficult way is to face up to it and triumph over it.  I can’t manage that yet, but I must learn to do it, for the first way is really a slight, though I believe permissible, piece of self-deception.”

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