The U. S. Holocaust Museum hails him a hero.
Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian living during WWII. His opposition to National Socialism was informed by the Scriptures, his staunch belief in God, and an uncompromising zeal to love what is righteous and to hate what is evil.
Dietrich participated in the July 20, 1944 coup to assassinate Hitler and overthrow the Nazi regime. He was subsequently detained in multiple concentration camps and was executed for his “crimes” in 1945, mere weeks before liberation.
Bonhoeffer is the originator of the oft-quoted, but never-more-relevant-than-now phrase, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.” Bonhoeffer became involved in the Confessing Church, which was a movement that fought against the nazification of the German Evangelical Church. Bonhoeffer was recruited as a teacher at the illegal Confessing Church Seminary, which had been closed down by the Gestapo in 1937. Dietrich spent years traveling across the country, visiting pastors of secret house parishes and underground churches.
Some of Bonhoeffer’s actions were:
- Evading the draft
- Acting as an informant
- Participating in a coup to overthrow the regime
- Participating in a coup to assassinate Adolph Hitler
- Breaking several German “laws” which resulted in a criminal record, imprisonment, and ultimately, capital punishment
Bonhoeffer’s life poses several extremely difficult philosophical, political, religious, ethical, and theological questions. Questions that need to be sorted out with much prayer, fasting, testing, courage, fear, and trembling.
Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 need to be weighed in eternal balances, and must be prayerfully evaluated and interpreted through the cultural, geographic, historical, linguistical, and contextual lenses by which Peter and Paul were looking through when they first penned their letters.
I read a challenging, yet enlightening, article this weekend. Bradlee Dean, writing in regards to the forefathers who penned the Declaration of Independence, says, “That document alone is 75% of the usurpations that the Tyrant King George committed against our forefathers and what it is that our forefathers would not put up with. Our American history found in that document teaches that our forefathers threw off the tyrant that would not be ruled by God and declared ‘Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God!’”
Dean also pointed out that the motto of the American Revolution was, “No king but King Jesus!” (I do NOT remember learning about that in school?!) And that the original national seal (before it was replaced with a bunch of Masonic mumbo jumbo) featured a picture of Pharaoh’s chariot being overturned in the Red Sea with Moses and the children of Israel safely standing on the opposite shore. The motto on the seal was,
“REBELLION TO TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD”
After reading the article, I became overwhelmed with discouragement. “Where are all the Patriots?” I wondered. “Where are the Tea Party members? The Bonhoeffers? The Watchmen? The warriors?” I uttered complaints to God and accused the Church of sitting on their couches, “doing nothing but griping on You Tube message boards.”
But I was severely chastised for this accusation when the Spirit responded with Exodus 2:24. When 400 years of slavery and oppression under a tyrannical government had passed, the groanings of the people reached heaven; and God, “…remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.”
Isn’t that what tens of thousands of You Tube comments decrying Jeff Epstein and Pizzagate are?
Isn’t that what 200 people gathered in front of a Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas, NV in 100 degree temps, waving “Child Lives Matter” signs are?
Moses didn’t form a militia and try to overthrow Pharaoh’s court. (Well, actually he did, and it didn’t go too well. It resulted in a dead Egyptian in a sandbox and his having to flee the country for several decades). Things didn’t happen for the Hebrew slaves once troops with AK’s showed up…things happened when the people of Israel were given the gift of groaning; and their groanings parted the first sea of opposition that stood between them and their freedom.
Perhaps we will be called to take up arms. Perhaps we will be called to begin a Confessing Church. Perhaps we will be called to break God-dishonoring “laws” made by evil men. Perhaps we will be called to go to prison, or even to die, to combat tyranny. But one thing is for certain, the heavens will not part if we gather up arms, but fail to first gather up our groanings.
We must pray for wisdom, courage, and obedience. We must put the eternal commands of God above the transient laws of men. We must follow in the footsteps of other Law-abiding citizens who went against corruption for the glory of God. Men such as Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Peter, Paul, John, Esther, and Jesus Christ. We must follow in the footsteps of men and women of courage…even if those footsteps lead us to the gallows.
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice,we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer
See Also: The Original Five Guys