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The Confessing Church was an active resistance movement attempting to re-establish the Church in all its fidelity to God’s Word. Eventually the Confessing Church declared the German Church, from which it was splitting further every week, heretical and no longer the Church of Christ.  

(William Kuhns, In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer49).

Opposition from with the Church to Hitler‘s encroachments was not long in coming. Once the more perceptive and committed Church leaders saw the direction events were taking, they formed a synod, which created the Pastors Emergency League. Originally numbering 2,000 pastors, this League provided a temporary basis for later, more highly organized resistance.  

(William Kuhns, In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer49).

The control of the Church by German Christians was not all that disturbed men like Bonhoeffer. It was becoming clear that Hitler intended to bend the Church to his purposes, or cripple it if it to bend. Pastors were discouraged from speaking out against early Nazi abuses; the government abetted ecclesiastical authorities who were sympathetic with the nationalist fervor of the regime.

Eventually churchman like Pastor Schneider who voiced serious disapproval with the government were sent to prison camps or moved to rural parishes. 

(William Kuhns, In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer48-49).

In 1933, after Adolf Hitler came into power, Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced many challenges. One challenge was the definition of the “German Christian”…

The General Church elections were held July 23 (1933), and these plainly forecasted the coming struggle. The “German Christians,” those clergy and layman who took a racist view of the German Church and sided with Hitler, gained 70% of the votes. Early in September the Prussian Gereral Synod, an important organ of the Church hierarchy, agreed to the Aryan Clauses. Only weeks later, Hitler insured that an election would make Army Chaplain Ludwig Muller, an ardent German Christian Reichsbischofthe major governing figure in the German Evangelical Church (William Kuhns, In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer48).

How would Christians in twenty-first century America react if the both church leadership embraced teachings that are contrary to the truths of God’s Word?

The Aryan Clause was just one of many challenges Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the church would face.

On April 7 (1933), the Aryan Clauses were issued, forbidding anyone of Jewish origins or anyone married to a Jew from holding any office in the state. The prohibition extended to the Church, and was only the beginning of a long series of encroachments designed to usurp of the Church.  

(William Kuhns, In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer48).

When did the Third Reich realize that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not going to get on board? Williams Kuhns writes…

The Church struggle was an effort of the churches to remain independent and to keep to their work of preaching the Word. Bonhoeffer saw the conflict coming with the very installation of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor on January 30, 1933. Two days later Bonhoeffer gave a radio address on “Changes in the Conception of the Leader of the Younger Generation,” in which he warned that a fixation to the person rather than the office would lead to idolatry. The radio message was cut short, and from the onset Bonhoeffer was labelled an enemy of the Third Reich.

(William Kuhns, In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer48).

That Bonhoeffer, having entered the resistance, became one of its leading figures, is not surprising; he was capable of brilliant leadership, trust and rare courage. 

That he entered the resistance at all is most surprising! 

~ William Kuhns, In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer222.

Back in 1967, William Kuhns, in his book In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer opened his preface with the words…

The name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer needs little introduction!

That statement is still true in 2013!

September 2019
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