By Stephanie Sumel
“So often we look at Christianity as something passive,” he said. “But there is a time when you have to stand up, and there’s going to be a cost to that. There is a cost to following Jesus Christ.”
That was certainly the case when the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer publicly opposed the Nazi regime and worked to free Jews from Nazi oppression.
Bonhoeffer was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Tegel Prison in Berlin for a year and a half. He was later moved to a concentration camp, where he was executed by hanging in April 1945, a month before the Nazis surrendered.
Vining, who has served as the interim pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church for nearly two years, said Bonhoeffer lived his faith in the face of opposition and uncertainty.
Vining said Bonhoeffer’s books “The Cost of Discipleship” and “Letters and Papers from Prison” show what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in good times and in bad.
“He confronted what we think of as a consummate evil—Satan in person—and it ultimately cost him his life,” Vining said of Bonhoeffer. “He was willing to take action rather than just letting things proceed. He assumed he was God’s hands.”
Vining first read Bonhoeffer’s books while attending seminary. The interim pastor at the church on Antonio Avenue said they had a profound impact on his faith
“The Cost of Discipleship” was published in 1937 as Hitler began to rise in power.
In it, Bonhoeffer details what he believes it means to follow Christ and exposes the follies of “cheap grace,” the practice of preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance.