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Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his fellow clergy within the Confessing Church struggled whether or not to serve in the Nazi army.

State harassment of Confessing Church pastors was growing.  Clergy struggled with the question of whether to enlist in the army.  Very little discussion took place in the Confessing Church “about the legitimacy of becoming a soldier.” A number of pastors enlisted out a sense of patriotic duty.  Others simply did so out of fear of Nazi reprisal.  Those who enlisted voluntarily tended to draw a distinction between fighting for Germany and fighting for Adolf Hitler.

The Confessing Church’s illegal clergy were especially subject to Nazi pressures.  At the onset of the war, the Gestapo began using a new tactic to to force illegal pastors into military service; the illegals were registered as “unemployed” and sent directly into action on the front lines.

(Editor’s Introduction to the English Edition of to Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 6)

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Chuck  Colson

Looking forward to the New Year, what topic comes to my mind? Dying. And dying daily.

One of the most powerful lines of Christian writing I’ve ever read was in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s magnificent classic The Cost of Discipleship. “When Christ calls a man,” Bonhoeffer wrote, “He bids him to come and die.”

Sobering words.  Its’ just the opposite of the therapeutic gospel we hear all too often in some churches these days.

Yet the Apostle Paul said the same thing. “I die daily,” he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15. What did he mean?

For the rest of the commentary…

My sermon text for this coming Sunday is Matthew 7:21-27.  In my study, I read the following from the commentary, The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Matthew by Michael Green.  He referred to Dietrich Bonhoeffer…

In our postmodern, relativistic and plural culture, how do Christians justify this exclusivism (that Jesus is the only true foundation for life and eternity), which seems to be so arrogant?  It is not that we are defending Christianity and saying it is better than anything else.  Often it is not.  Often it is shoddy and does not stand comparison with the ethos of what is best in other faiths or in liberal humanism.  No, it is not the religion of Christianity that disciples are concerned to vindicate.

With Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we believe that Jesus Christ came to destroy religion.  Religion, if conceived as a human attempt to become acceptable to God by whatever sytem of beliefs and practice is a beggar’s refuge.  It will not keep out the wind and the hail (109-110).

TGC Staff: Recommended 2010 Books

Posted: 27 Dec 2010 04:00 AM PST

With more than 260,000 books published in the United States alone in 2010, any “Top Ten Books of the Year” lists should be digested with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, we all love year-end lists. So Collin Hansen, Andy Naselli, and I put together a list of books recommended for pastors, seminarians, and other Christian leaders. This isn’t a pure “best of” list. Rather, we seek to present a mix of theology, history, politics, biography, and more for a well-rounded diet.
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Collin Hansen:

  1. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson). Bonhoeffer’s story will never grow old, because his courage and commitment to God transcend time and place. Metaxas devoted years to chronicling this amazing martyr’s life, and we’re thankful that he did.
  2. Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just, by Tim Keller (Dutton). Unlike previous Keller books, I didn’t read this one right away when it was published. No wonder: I came away from the book agonizing over my selfishness and lack of compassion for the poor. But this book is no mere guilt trip. Keller helps readers marvel at God’s unmerited favor shown to sinners.
  3. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, by James Davison Hunter (Oxford). Rarely do books change the conversation from the academic level all the way down to everyday conversations. But Hunter lends intellectual muscle to many Christians’ unease about contemporary models of cultural engagement and suggests “faithful presence” as the way forward.
  4. City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era, by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner (Moody). In the interest of full disclosure, this book appeared in Moody’s Cultural Renewal series, which I edit with Tim Keller. That means I read it twice, and both times I was deeply impressed with how Gerson and Wehner navigate complex political issues based on their understanding of Scripture, grasp of history, and experience in the White House.
  5. What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert (Crossway). Debates over the gospel’s definition continue to crop up in this era of evangelical confusion. Gilbert has wrestled with the high-level theology, pored over God’s Word, and written a book you can hand your neighbors to introduce them to Jesus.

Andy Naselli:

  1. The Trials of Theology: Becoming a “Proven Worker” in a Dangerous Business, by Andrew J. Cameron and Brian S. Rosner, eds (Christian Focus). Ten essays—five old, five new—explain why the head-heart separation is a false dichotomy and what theological students should do about it. (Cf. the chapter by Don Carson.)
  2. The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story, D. A. Carson (Baker). Fourteen talks trace the turning points of the Bible’s storyline in a way that simultaneously evangelizes non-Christians and edifies Christians. (Corresponding video, audio, and a leader’s guide are available.)
  3. Politics—According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture, by Wayne Grudem (Zondervan). This textbook is relatively comprehensive, clear, accessible, and largely persuasive.
  4. For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, by Justin Taylor and Sam Storms, eds (Crossway). Twenty-seven friends of John Piper contribute to this wide-ranging theological Festschrift (Cf. the chapter by Don Carson.)
  5. The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary, by Fred G. Zaspel (Crossway). Zaspel skillfully synthesizes the works of Warfield, a theological giant who wrote prolifically but didn’t write a systematic theology.

John Starke:

  1. Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom, by Peter Leithart (IVP). Leithart offers a compelling thesis that goes against the opinion of every Tom, Dick, and Hauweras. It’s well-researched and reads like a novel.

  2. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, by Wesley Hill (Zondervan). With a combination of honest reflection on deep personal struggles and profound theological insights, Hill’s book seems ideal for anyone struggling with homosexuality or those trying to minister to homosexuals. Hill is a gifted writer, and I loved this book.
  3. You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions, Tim Chester (Crossway). This book is full of pastoral wisdom. It provides a vision of sanctification grounded in the gospel that doesn’t overlook the realities of sin.
  4. The Westminster Assembly: Reading its Theology in Historical Context, Robert Letham (P&R). There’s something refreshing about a sophisticated theologian and a great historian combined in one person—one book, even! For this baptist, the book is good all around.
  5. Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture, by David VanDrunen (Crossway). I don’t agree with every conclusion VanDrunen proposes, but he furthers this heated discussion with biblical and theological sophistication. Any responses to his argument will need to do the same.

With the beginning of the war, the pressures on Confessing clergy and Bonhoeffer himself intensified in a new way.  Bonhoeffer and Eberhard Bethge now desperately sought to avoid  military service.  In September  1939, shortly after Bonhoeffer returned from the United States, he applied for a position as an army chaplain.  He received no reply to his application until February 1940.  His application was denied because he not have a record of active duty.

(Editor’s Introduction to the English Edition of to Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 5)

Merry Christmas!!

I perfer Merry Christmas!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer also was disappointed on the silence of the Confessing Church after Kristallnacht

He was particularly concerned that the Confessing Church issued to official statement against Kristallnacht (“night of the broken glass”), the pogrom of November 9, 1938, that was carried out by the SS against Jewish synagogues and businesses throughout Germany.  When after watching the Koslin synagogue burn, some of Bonhoeffer’s seminarians voice their view that the suffering of the Jews was a curse on them, Bonhoeffer offered a different perspective:

“When today the synagogues are set afire, tomorrow the churches will burn!”


(Editor’s Introduction to the English Edition of to Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 5)

 

German pastor, theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer became greatly disappointed that the Confessing Church lacked the courage to stand up to policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazism.

The case could be made that Bonhoeffer’s disillusionment with the Confessing Church contributed to his decision to become engaged in the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.

(Editor’s Introduction to the English Edition of to Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 5)

As far as Dietrich Bonhoeffer was concerned, there was both good news and bad news concerning the Confessing Church…

By the beginning of the war, the Confessing Church movement had thwarted the German Christian goals of a pro-Nazi Reich Church.

That would be the good news.  However…

Nevertheless, Bonhoeffer had become disillusioned with the Confessing Church and its moderate leadership.  He believed that it failed to resist the nazification of the life and governance of the church as well as the destructive Nazi policies.

(Editor’s Introduction to the English Edition of to Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 4).

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