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Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship

Jesus takes it for granted that his disciples will observe the pious custom of fasting. Strict exercise of self-control is an essential feature of the feature of the Christian’s life. Such customs have only one purpose–to make the disciples more ready and cheerful to accomplish those things which God would have done (169).

John Drew Godsey John D. Godsey, Th.D, 88, professor emeritus of Wesley Theological Seminary and a renowned scholar of German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, died Oct. 12, 2010 at Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Md. He died of cardiac arrest. Born in Bristol on Oct. 10, 1922, Dr. Godsey was the son of William Clinton and Mary Lynn Corns Godsey. He attended Tennessee High School 1936-38 and then spent the last two years at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, graduating in 1940. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and received his B.S. degree in 1947, following a stint as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1943-46. Dr. Godsey earned a B.D. degree magna cum laude in 1953 from Drew University Theological School, during which time he was awarded both the Morrow Memorial Scholarship and the Delaplaine McDaniel Fellowship. He earned his doctorate in theology insigni cum laude in 1960 from the University of Basel, Switzerland, where he was a protege‚ of Swiss theologian Karl Barth, one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century.
Dr. Godsey’s published dissertation, The Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was the first comprehensive study of Bonhoeffer in any language. He was recognized throughout the theological world as an expert on Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and member of the German resistance who was executed near the end of World War II for his role in the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Dr. Godsey was professor of systematic theology at Drew University Theological School in New Jersey from 1956-1968. In 1964, he was awarded a Fulbright Research Scholarship and spent a sabbatical year at the University of Goettingen, Germany.
He moved to Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. in 1968, where he taught systematic theology and served as associate dean for three years. He continued to teach until retirement in 1988. He returned in 1990 to teach an additional three years, and served briefly as acting dean of the Seminary. In 1995, Dr. Godsey received Drew University Theological School’s Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Godsey authored and co-authored numerous books and other scholarly works, including Ethical Responsibility: Bonhoeffer’s Legacy to the Churches, and was a founding member of the International Bonhoeffer Society, English Language Section; a past president of the American Theological Society; and active in the American Academy of Religion, the Biblical Theologians and the Karl Barth Society of North America.
During his time growing up, Dr. Godsey’s family attended State Street Methodist Church, and he was a long-time member of the Bethesda United Methodist Church in Maryland, where he often preached and lectured.

Today, I received the quarterly newsletter of the International Bonhoeffer Society  (Number 100, Spring 2011). In it was a book review of Bonhoeffer – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. The review, by Clifford Green, was originally published in the October 5, 2010 issue of the The Christian Century. It is not a positive review because Green claims that Metaxas, as an evangelical Christian, believes liberal Christians has “hijacked” Bonhoeffer from his true evangelical heritage. I have seen similar reviews that criticize Metaxas for shaping Bonhoeffer into a evangelical Christians. That is the beauty of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Liberals, evangelicals, fundamentalists and Catholics are attracted to him.

I have not read Metaxas’ book yet, but I need to after I am finished with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment, 1940-1945.  

Click for Green’s Review…

It was actually a farewell message to Bishop George BellDietrich Bonhoeffer passed this message through fellow prisoner, English Captain S. Payne Best. It was on April 8, 1945 in the Flossenburg concentration camp, a day before he was executed…

…Will you give this message from me to the Bishop of Chichester (Bell), “tell him that this is for the end, but also the beginning–with him I believe in the principle of our Universal Christian brotherhood which rises above all national hatreds and that our victory is certain–tell him, too, that I have never forgotten his words at our last meeting.” He gave me this message twice in the same words, holding my hand firmly in his and speaking with emotional earnestness.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 468-469).

I am watching the DVD version movie Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace on my laptop right now. It’s not bad, but it is a lot of information squeezed into a movie. And much information is missing! Because the short life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is so complex a mini-series should be made of his life. A History Channel series perhaps?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes an Easter letter to his parents during his first month in prison. He is allowed to send one letter every ten days. He refers to his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, who was about 19 at the time. He was about 37 when he wrote the letter.

Easter Sunday, April 25, 1943

Today the tenth day is finally here again, so that I may write to you. How glad I am to let you know that I am celebrating a happy Easter here. The liberating thing about Good Friday and Easter is that one’s thoughts turn far away from one’s personal fate toward the ultimate meaning of life, suffering, and everything that happens, and one clings to a great hope.

Since yesterday it has been amazingly quiet in this prison house. The only sound heard is “Happy Easter” as everyone calls to each other with no envy, and no one begrudges the fulfillment of their Easter wishes to those who labor here in these difficult conditions.

Good Friday was Maria’s birthday. In the past year she bore the death of her father, her brother, and two especially beloved cousins with such a firm heart. If I didn’t know that, I would worry about her. Now Easter will console her, her large family will stand by her, and her work in the Red Cross will keep her completely occupied.

Greet her warmly, tell her that I long for her very much. Tell her not to be sad but brave as she has been til now. She is so very young! That is the hard part.

For Link…

The brother of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Klaus Bonhoeffer was arrested on October 1, 1944. Here is part of the indictment against him…

In 1943-1944 on German soil the defendants Dr. Bonhoeffer and Dr. (Rudiger) Schleicher (the brother-in-law of Klaus and Dietrich) took part and agreed to cooperate in the operation to overthrow the National Socialist regime, through the elimination of the Fuhrer by cowardly assassination or another act of violence that included the possibility of his death, and to end the war through ignominious dealings with the enemies…

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 460-461).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested on April 5, 1943. On November 18, 1943, a trial date was set…

Torgau (Zieten Barracks), November 18, 1943


I. In the criminal case against Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, presently in the Berlin Military Detention Center, Tegel branch, a date for trial before the Fourth Senate of the Reich Court, WitzlebenstraBe 4-10, Berlin-Charlottenburg 5, has been appointed:

Friday, December 17, 1943, at 9:30 a.m.

–Estimated length: 1 to 2 days–

II. Attorney Dr. Kurt Wergin, WoyrschstraBe 8, Berlin W 35, is authorized as counsel for the defendant, in accordance with 323, sect. 4 MStGo (Military Criminal Ordinance), 51 KStVO (War Criminal Law Ordinance).

By order of signed,

Dr. Speckhardt

Senior Reich Military Prosecutor

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works: Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945, 451). 


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