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Dietrich Bonhoeffer was many things — poet, scholar, teacher, spy and more.

The German Lutheran pastor was hanged at Sachsenhausen concentration camp April 9, 1945. At just 39, he had published a considerable and diverse body of work.

Many have learned Bonhoeffer was a conspirator who plotted to kill Adolph Hitler in July 1944.

That’s untrue, according to “Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking,” by Mark Thiessen Nation, Anthony G. Siegrist and Daniel P. Umbel.

“There is not a shred of evidence that Bonhoeffer was linked in any way to … attempts on Hitler’s life,” they write.

It’s a persistent fiction nonetheless.

Bonhoeffer could have been fodder for Nazi propaganda: He was attractive, smart, hardworking, personable and came from an influential, well-known family. Instead, he believed the Aryan nationalism that swept through post World War I Germany was offensive.

For the rest of the post…

10/5/2015 Annie Cotton/Christian Aid Mission

Residents inspect damage from what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus.
Residents inspect damage from what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus. (Reuters)

At several steps on their path to death by beheading and crucifixion last month, 11 indigenous Christian workers near Aleppo, Syria, had the option to leave the area and live. The 12-year-old son of a ministry team leader also could have spared his life by denying Christ.

The indigenous missionaries were not required to stay at their ministry base in a village near Aleppo, Syria; rather, the ministry director who trained them had entreated them to leave. As the Islamic State (ISIS), other rebel groups and Syrian government forces turned Aleppo into a war zone of carnage and destruction, ISIS took over several outlying villages. The Syrian ministry workers in those villages chose to stay in order to provide aid in the name of Christ to survivors.

“I asked them to leave, but I gave them the freedom to choose,” said the ministry director, his voice tremulous as he recalled their horrific deaths. “As their leader, I should have insisted that they leave.”

They stayed because they believed they were called to share Christ with those caught in the crossfire, he said.

“Every time we talked to them,” the director said, “they were always saying, ‘We want to stay here—this is what God has told us to do. This is what we want to do.’ They just wanted to stay and share the gospel.”

Those who chose to stay could have scattered and hid in other areas, as their surviving family members did. On a visit to the surviving relatives in hiding, the ministry director learned of the cruel executions.

The relatives said ISIS militants on Aug. 7 captured the Christian workers in a village whose name is withheld for security reasons. On Aug. 28, the militants asked if they had renounced Islam for Christianity. When the Christians said that they had, the rebels asked if they wanted to return to Islam. The Christians said they would never renounce Christ.

The 41-year-old team leader, his young son and two ministry members in their 20s were questioned at one village site where ISIS militants had summoned a crowd. The team leader presided over nine house churches he had helped to establish. His son was two months away from his 13th birthday.

“All were badly brutalized and then crucified,” the ministry leader said. “They were left on their crosses for two days. No one was allowed to remove them.”

The martyrs died beside signs the ISIS militants had put up identifying them as “infidels.”

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On Hitler’s express orders reprisal the killing of Germans in Denmark were to be carried out in secret “on the proportion of five to one.” Thus, the great Danish pastor-poet-playwright, Kaj Munk, one of the most beloved men in Scandinavia, was brutally murdered by the Germans, his body left on the road with a sign pinned to it: “Swine, you worked for Germany just the same.”

~ William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 1247.


Bonhoeffer for Today: A Q&A with Biographer Eric Metaxas

posted by Jana Riess
FINAL cover - hi res Bonhoeffer.jpgFlunking Sainthood is delighted to talk today with author Eric Metaxas, whose study of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer sets a new standard for popular biography. It’s well-written! It’s fascinating! And it’s large enough to insulate your home!

Eric, when Thomas Nelson sent me your book, I thought there must be two or three books in the package, it was so thick. Then I opened it to find a single doorstopper. Wow! How long did it take to research and write this biography?

Yes, it’s a big book, much longer than the one I thought I would write. But I’m extremely happy to report that a huge number of people all have said they were initially daunted by its size, but once they started it they just couldn’t put it down. Publishers Weekly even called it “riveting”! It’s in extremely bad taste for an author to quote his own reviews, but when you’ve written a long book, it means everything that so many people are really enjoying it. The previous big biography, by Eberhard Bethge, is actually twice as long and weighs five pounds, so compared to that, my book is a dime-store paperback… I wanted my book to be definitive, but also accessible, and I hope I’ve succeeded in both of those things.

I wrote it during a period of the most concentrated effort I’ve ever made in my life. It was as if I were sprinting a marathon and praying that God would give me the strength not to collapse. He did; so I didn’t.

Why did you want to write a life story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the first major biography to be published in 40 years? How does his life speak to you?

I first heard the story of Bonhoeffer in 1988 and was simply staggered. The idea that a devout Christian in Germany would stand up to Hitler and get involved in the plot to kill Hitler and be killed in a concentration camp was just amazing. My mother grew up in Germany during those awful years and my grandfather was killed in the war (I dedicate the book to him), so that period of history has always haunted me. Still, I never thought I would write a biography on Bonhoeffer. But after the success of Amazing Grace, my biography of Wilberforce, everyone kept asking whom I would write about next. There’s only one person whose life captivates me as much as Wilberforce’s life did, and that man is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He’s about as authentic a person as I’ve ever encountered and I know that his life speaks powerfully to us in a number of ways. He’s sort of the ultimate hero and his story is so inspiring I just had to tell it to a new generation of readers.

One of the coolest things about your biography is that you’re drawing on letters and journal entries that have never been published before. What were some of these, and what do they add to the story you’re telling?

There is an extraordinary 16-volume series of Bonhoeffer’s works published by Augsburg Fortress Press. It contains every letter and journal entry and everything else he ever wrote and most of the volumes have finally been translated into English, so I had access to everything.

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/flunkingsainthood/2010/07/bonhoeffer-for-today-a-qa-with-biographer-eric-metaxas.html#ixzz3kcp5Xyh4

This was fun…

Dorospirit - this pretty much sums me up!

I sometimes talk about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in my services, church meetings etc. He was an inspirational person!

But then I thought sometimes it’s a bit boring to just talk about someone’s biography. So instead, I created a quiz.

These are my questions (and I had fun making up some of the answers!!):

Bonhoeffer Quiz:

  1. Bonhoeffer’s father was
    a) a Lutheran minister
    b) a butcher and an atheist
    c) a psychiatrist and a Christian
  2. Because he was too young to be ordained after he finished his studies in theology (he had 2 PhDs and was a University Lecturer before the age of 25!), Bonhoeffer spent some time studying in:
    a) the USA
    b) the UK
    c) Switzerland
  3. While he was in the States, Bonhoeffer attended and was deeply inspired by
    a) a Presbyterian Church in Texas
    b) a Methodist Church in Florida
    c) an African-American Baptist Church in Harlem
  4. Bonhoeffer was

View original post 142 more words

Scripture remains as vital and useful today as ever

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014 

I’ve finally gotten around to the new Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas. And while reading this amazing book, I’ve reflected often on the importance of ideas and how essential is truth. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a hero to many for his bold, uncompromising stand against Hitler and the Nazi regime in 1930s and early 40s Germany. He is a champion for others because of his commitment to and passion for quality Christian community. Foundational to Bonhoeffer’s character and values was his insight into the Bible and dedication to the Word of God. At a time when most leaders were acquiescing to evil that would destroy their nation, Bonhoeffer stood boldly against the tide. He raised his voice on behalf of weak and vulnerable who the regime plotted to destroy. He called evil by its name and resisted it for all he was worth.

Not all ideas are of equal value. Some are so noble and beneficent, we are almost sure they come from the heart of God. Others are so destructive, treacherous and merciless we wonder if they were born in the pit of hell. The great majority of ideas are stuck somewhere between the extremes and only great wisdom will be able to forecast their outcomes or discover their direction. Bonhoeffer knew painfully, that he dare not trust contemporary social morality to guide his mind. He needed a higher touchstone to measure thought and theory and he believed he had it in the scriptures. His unpopular stand against the ideals of Nazism was founded, informed and energized by the truth he found within the pages of the Bible. Bonhoeffer wrote the following to a brother-in-law who saw little value in scripture.

“First of all I will confess quite simply – I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive this answer. One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. That is because in the bible God speaks to us…

“And I would like to tell you now quite personally: since I have learnt to read the Bible in this way – and this has not been for so very long – it becomes every day more wonderful to me. I read it in the morning and the evening, often during the day as well, and every day I consider a text which I have chosen for the whole week, and try to sink deeply into it, so as really to hear what it is saying. I know that without this I could not live properly any longer.”

– Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Metaxas, Eric, 2010, p 136-37.

For the rest of the post…

Should Dietrich Bonhoeffer be considered a “martyr”? Well, it depends what kind of martyr we are talking about? Craig J. Slane, in his book, Bonhoeffer as Martyrwrote that…

… Detlev Daedlow… stipulates that while Bonhoeffer may be a political-secular martyr he is not an ecclesiastical one–a distinction dating at least to the time of the Reformation, and a provocative one coming from someone who himself a member of the Confessing Church (31-32).

In previous posts, we began to answer the question if Dietrich Bonhoeffer should be considered a “martyr” in the traditional way that Christians understand martyrdom?

Craig J. Slane, in his book, Bonhoeffer as Martyrwrote that even in Bonhoeffer’s own church, he was not recognized a martyr. Yet, there were some who disagreed…

Even while the dust of was settling, Reinhold Niebuhr was hailing Bonhoeffer as a martyr whose story belonged amongst “the modern Acts of the Apostles.” Bishop George Bell of Chichester, Bonhoeffer’s chief contact in the ecumenical movement, echoed Niebuhr’s sentiments as he recounted the background of the Hitler plot (30).

In my previous post, we began to answer the question if Dietrich Bonhoeffer should be considered a “martyr” in the traditional way that Christians understand martyrdom?

Craig J. Slane, in his book, Bonhoeffer as Martyrwrites about the “ambiguity” surrounding the death of Bonhoeffer…

The ambiguity was immediately recognized by his own church of Berlin-Brandenburg when, after the war, it refused to embrace him as a martyr once the facts of his inspirational activities  were known. On the first anniversary of the plot’s failure, Paul Schneider (Lutheran pastor at Dickensheid who refused to comply with the Nazi order not to preach and, after several years of torture in the Buchenwald camp, was given a lethal injection of Strophantine on 18 July 1939) was presented to the churches as “a martyr in the full sense of the word” while Bonhoeffer’s name was not even mentioned. The refusal to name Bonhoeffer was neither a personal rejection of Bonhoeffer nor a repudiation of his conspiratorial activities per se.

Rather, it was a theological statement about martyrdom and its limits  (30).

Was Dietrich Bonhoeffer a “martyr” in the traditional way that Christians understand martyrdom?

Craig J. Slane, in his book, Bonhoeffer as Martyr, writes that we should not be that quick to see Bonhoeffer as a martyr.

Upon his return from New York in 1939, Bonhoeffer involved himself in various acts of subterfuge against the German government, and as an active member of the Abwehr he participated in tyrannicide by plotting to assassinate Adolf Hitler. It was for his participation in this treasonous conspiracy that he was ordered hanged by the Gestapo. The Gestapo saw only his “high treason.” On the surface at least, Bonhoeffer’s Christian conviction in the matter seem to have been an irrelevant fact in the immediate circumstances of his death. Hence this final and highly politicized period of his life (1939-1945) renders ambiguous the relationship between his Christian confession and his death and thus calls into question the authenticity of his martyrdom when weighed against the traditional Christian understanding (29-30).

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