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In 1938, all Protestant pastors were ordered to swear an oath to Adolf Hitler on his 49th birthday. Since Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an “illegal pastor”, he was not on the list to take the oath. However, he worked hard to help others not to take the oath…

Bonhoeffer and his ordinands traveled from one pastors’ meeting to another, trying to prevent the clergy from taking the oath…but they had no success with their arguments. The whole matter became one of the most shameful defeats of the Confessing Church, for, after the great majority of pastors had taken the oath…

(Ferdinand SchlingensiepenDietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance, 212-213).

In early 1938, official church president (Friedrich) Werner gave orders that on Hitler‘s 49th birthday in April, all Protestant pastors must swear an “oath of allegiance to the Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor” (Hitler’s two titles). Werner’s decree included the words, “Anyone who refuses to take the oath is to be dismissed.”  

…German Christians took the oath immediately, “with joyful hearts and in obedience to inner command.”

Confessing Church pastors, however, felt they had been ordered to break their ordination vow, the the text that accompanied this oath described it as more than the recognition of the duty, according to the New Testament, to “be subject to the governing authorities”. It meant being in “the most intimate solidarity with the Third Reich…and with the man who created that community and embodies it.”

(Ferdinand SchlingensiepenDietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance, 212).

Jason Meyer: Candidate to Succeed John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church

Tonight the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church  unanimously voted to present Jason Meyer as their candidate to succeed John Piper, pending congregational approval. The announcement from executive pastor Sam Crabtree can be read here.

The vote will come in two stages: (1) on May 20, 2012, the congregation will vote on him as associate pastor for preaching and vision, beginning that role on August 1, 2012; (2) then, as Piper’s pastoral ministry draws to an end, there will be a vote for Meyer as pastor for preaching and vision.

Bethlehem has provided a number of documents, including Sam Crabtree’s “What I Think God Is Doing With Succession at Bethlehem Baptist Church: An Overview,” an advocacy paper from the Search Team, and Meyer’s CV.

John Piper writes to the congregation of Bethlehem regarding Meyer’s candidacy:

I joyfully and expectantly commend him to you with all my heart. Not only because of a long list of gifts and graces and competencies, but also because I believe God has chosen him and anointed him for this role. May the Lord confirm this with a hope-filled, happy, unified vote of the Bethlehem family.

Piper on the Transition

Piper has provided a document answering several questions:

  • How do you feel about Jason’s candidacy?
  • What was your role in choosing and testing Jason Meyer?
  • Why are you stepping down from your pastoral role?
  • What will you do?
  • What will your relationship to Bethlehem be?
  • How do you feel?

In short, Piper is convinced that Meyer is the right man to succeed him in Bethlehem’s pulpit.

For the rest of the post…

At the end of 1938, Bonhoeffer invited all the former seminarians to a retreat at Zingst, back where it all started. Forty-five young pastors came, and Bonhoeffer was especially happy that some had even made the long journey from the Rhineland, or from East Prussia (today divided between Russia and Poland). It was the time when the Confessing Church was truly at its lowest ebb, and Bonhoeffer made passionate efforts to ensure that his former students remained loyal to it.

The collective pastorates, in turn, lasted until after Hitler’s invasion of Poland. The final period of Bonhoeffer’s work as a teacher took place during one of the most depressing times of his life.

(Ferdinand SchlingensiepenDietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance, 211-212).

National Geographic Special: Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100
premieres on Monday, March 26, 2012.
Check Local Listings to see when it’s airing on your local PBS station.

Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 celebrates the centennial of the oldest and most intimate big league ballpark in America. Fenway’s Grand Opening was on April 20, 1912, when the Red Sox played the New York Highlanders, a team that would be renamed the Yankees the next year. The film uses a current Red Sox-Yankees game as a thread to the history of the ballpark and as a way to go inside and get behind the scenes to see what it takes to put on a major league game.

Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1918.

National Baseball Hall of Fame

Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1918.

We’re in the locker room as the Red Sox get ready for the game, in the underground batting cage where ball players can swing bats away from the eyes of the public and the press. What’s it like inside the Green Monster’s famous manual scoreboard? We find out. We follow the superintendent as he takes care of the century-old building; the groundskeepers who prepare the field of play; a vendor who races through the stands selling hot dogs; the bat boy who’s really more of a bat man; and the guy who’s worked at Fenway Park for 32 years and whose job is to rub every one of the 160 or so balls used in the game with mud from a secret location.

Red Sox outfielder Harry Hooper safe at third.

Boston Public Library

Red Sox outfielder Harry Hooper is safe at third during a 1916 game at Fenway Park.

Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 hears from players and historians that Fenway Park is not just home to a legendary baseball team, the place where Babe Ruth made his major league debut and Ted Williams set records. It is also a public space that is vital to the city of Boston. From the very beginning, Fenway hosted all sorts of events, including other sports, masses for World.War.I soldiers, a 1919 rally for Irish independence,and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last presidential campaign speech.

We see how, in 2002, Fenway Park narrowly escaped demolition, the fate of most other early baseball palaces. The ownership group that took over in that year was committed to the ballpark’s preservation, turning the run-down stadium into both a fan favorite and the most popular tourist attraction in Boston.

Fenway Park is a memory palace for generations of fans and ballplayers, a place where you can sit in the same seat as your grandfather to watch the stars of the day play America’s pastime. In fast-paced, mobile America, the old building provides a sense of continuity, an anchor to our past.


Bonhoeffer on Abortion

by John Piper | March 24, 2012



Dietrich Bonhoeffer is claimed as a patron saint by theological schools, ranging from God is Dead to evangelical conservatives. Eric Metaxas sees his biography as one step in the rescue of Bonhoeffer from the most bizarre misuses of his thinking.

Along the way he points out, for example, Bonhoeffer’s clear and strong views on abortion. They are decisive on the immorality of it, and pastorally compassionate toward the persons in crisis.

Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And this is nothing but murder.

A great many different motives may lead to an action of this kind; indeed in cases where it is an act of despair, performed in circumstances of extreme human or economic destitution and misery, the guilt may often lie rather with the community than with the individual. Precisely in this connection money may conceal many a wanton deed, while the poor man’s more reluctant lapse may far more easily be disclosed.

All these considerations must no doubt have a quite decisive influence on our personal and pastoral attitude towards the person concerned, but they cannot in any way alter the fact of murder. (Quoted in Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer, 472, paragraphing added)

In tomorrow’s sermon on Hebrews 4:14-16, I will include part of  Bonhoeffer‘s great quote on the power of temptation…

In our members there is a slumbering inclination toward desire, which is both sudden and fierce. With irresistible power desire seizes master over the flesh. All at once a secret, smouldering fire is kindled. The flesh burns and is in flames. It makes no difference whether it is sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, or love of fame and power, or greed for money . . .  Joy in God is in course of being extinguished in us as we seek all our joy in the creature.
At this moment God is quite unreal to us, he loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real . . . Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God . . . The powers of clear discrimination and of decision are taken from us. The questions present themselves: “Is what the flesh desires really sin in this case?” “Is it really not permitted to me, yes – expected of me, now, here, in my particular situation, to appease desire?” . . . It is here that everything within me rises up against the Word of God. Powers of the body, the mind and the will, which were held in obedience under the discipline of the Word, of which
I believed that I was the master, make it clear to me that I am by no means master of them. . . The adversary deploys my powers against me. 

Bonhoeffer and Bethge took a holiday in Bavaria. On the way back at the end of September (1937), they were at Bonhoeffer’s twin sister’s home in Gottingen when they received a telephone call from Stettin. The Gestapo had arrived at Finkenwalde, served orders to quit on the housekeeper, Erna Struwe and the inspector of studies, Fritz Onnasch, the successor of Wilhelm Rott, and then sealed the doors of the seminary rooms. There were many appeals. The old Field Marshal August von Mackensen sent a handwritten letter of protest to Minister Kerrl, but the order was not rescinded. “We must obey God rather than any human authority,” says the New Testament. On this basis, despite the ban by the government, Bonhoeffer did not consider his mission to train pastors for the Confessing Church to be at the end.

(Ferdinand SchlingensiepenDietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance, 209).

Bonhoeffer…felt personally obligated by Jesus’ commandment to peace to refuse military service whenever war broke out, and he was certain that it would. But he wanted neither to discuss this idea with ordinands not to challenge them to follow him on a course which would end in a death sentence.

(Ferdinand SchlingensiepenDietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance, 208).

The book Discipleship (first published in English as The Cost of Discipleship), completed in 1937, grew out of these lectures on Bonhoeffer‘s (at the Preacher’s Seminary at Finkenwalde). It caused quite a stir, especially because this interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount was new for Protestant  churches (Ferdinand SchlingensiepenDietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance, 207).

This book has been used by the Lord to deepen the walk of countless Christians!

March 2012


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