Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Eric Metaxas

I finished the biography by Eric Metaxas on Dietrich Bonhoeffer  recently. It was very well written, and I had many moments for reflection and connection throughout. I’ve not been a big reader of biographies, but I found this treatment of the young German theologian inspiring and instructive. I’ll share a few insights here which I hope might whet your appetite to read it for yourself.

Bonhoeffer worked to shine light on what Hitler was doing by communicating to his allies in London specifically Bishop George Bell and a number of other ecumenical leaders. He bravely took a stand against the German Christian “church” which was being raised up as a pagan religion or replacement for true Christianity, attempting to expunge any connection to its Jewish roots. When Hitler ordered the Night of the Long Knives in June of 1934, Nazi hit squads went through and murdered anywhere from 400-1,000 people. After this people who disagreed with National Socialism or Hitler began to fear for their lives. If you spoke up against Hitler or his policies you could very well end up dead. Through all this Bonhoeffer remained steadfast in his stand against the pollution of the church and the pull of the German Christian movement to paganism, anti-Christian, and anti-Jewish sentiment as well as the fusing of the church with the state.

Hitler never spoke against the church as he rose to power. He was very politically astute to know that would not do. However, once he was fully in control of Germany he moved to break down the church and rebuild it in his own image. He supported the group called the German Christians who warped orthodox theology to make Jesus out as anti-semitic and basically return Germany to its pagan roots. Hitler himself despised Christian teaching and preferred the coarse power of the ancient germanic  pagan religions coupled with Darwinian naturalism. Within his inner circle, Goering and Himmler cultivated occult practices among the SS and incorporated them into the Nazi death camps.

Bonhoeffer attempted to rally groups of churches both within and without Germany to speak out against what the “German Christians” were doing. However, Nazis used control of information and communications to divide their enemies. This made different churches who had been allied with Bonhoeffer to split away. The Nazi divisive tactic whittled down and essentially liquefied their opposition. This has some connection with our current political battle. If churches and the righteous cannot unite against our common enemy of godlessness and immorality, no one will stand. If we divide our forces and become fractured and diffused, we will lose.

More than anything I am struck by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s unyielding commitment to the rational pursuit of the conclusions of his faith. He did not back down from thinking things through to their logical conclusion, then taking action as necessary. I pray that we American Christians would do the same.

Have you read this stirring biography? What were your reactions?

Advertisements

How Should We Then Live? Francis Schaeffer

link to Book on Amazon

How Should We Then Live?


Francis Schaeffer’s book How Should We Then Live? This is one of the modern classics of Christian thought. Schaeffer follows the development of Western thought and our various worldviews from the time of Roman civilization to modern times. He frames this development in the attempt of philosophers to explain our world starting with either absolutes or particulars. He gives dozens of examples of the various philosophic schools of thought playing out in art, music, and architecture.

The Reformation in Northern Europe found freedom for creation under the Bible and in its balance of universals and particulars found true freedom. The Renaissance in Southern Europe adopted the humanistic view with particulars only, and therefore had no basis for transcendent growth. As humanism began to infiltrate into the scientific thinking and philosophy of the 1700s and 1800s and on into today, people were faced with the problem of drawing absolute principles starting with particulars. This turned out to be impossible. Trying to come up with a unified, cohesive philosophy of life starting with human experience takes people nowhere.

As he closes the book, Schaeffer lists several pressures that are facing societies today which could push them to accept authoritarian rule instead of chaos. These pressures include: economic breakdown, war or serious threat of war, the chaos of violence including terrorism, the radical redistribution of the wealth of the world, a shortage of food or other natural resources in the world. As these pressures mount people will feel more compelled to give up freedom so that they can have some measure of peace and order. And as the Christian worldview base evaporates from societies in the West, people will have no basis to argue or think otherwise. A modern example played out in Germany when the people cried out for order from the economic collapse of the Weimar Republic and gave Hitler dictatorial power in their country. Not long after as the Germans rose in power under this dictatorship, Chamberlain signed over Czechoslovakia eventually losing most of Europe in World War II. They were hoping for “peace in our time.” What is the proper response? Do we succumb to the breakdown of society and imposed order, or do we as Christians affirm the Christian base that provided the freedoms upon which our nation was originally founded? This can only happen if individual people discover that Christian base in their own lives and then act to influence the consensus. “Such Christians do not need to be a majority in order for this influence on society to occur.” Christians were not in the majority when they changed the entire Western civilization.

October Baby

October Baby Screen Shot

October Baby is a well-done film about the victims of abortion. The murdered children, the surviving mothers, and the few surviving babies. The cinematography of the movie is excellent with beautiful shots and excellent framing. The script at times lacks punch with a few squandered moments, but overall the message is clear and brings it home with multiple poignant scenes and an out of the park ending. October Baby Trailer October Baby – Ministry Resources

The movie was inspired by the life of Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor. She has a difficult but inspiring life story. Hear an interview with Gianna here. You may also be interested in Gianna’s Book.

While the life valuing message of October Baby is clearly Christian, this movie could be termed a cross-over film because it deals with the issue more from a universally human perspective of the pain and confusion stemming from being unwanted and from being confronted with the life and death choice of abortion. Women who have had an abortion will likely feel some heavy feelings upon seeing this story played out on screen, but the movie points toward where we can find true solace.

You can see more of the heart of October Baby at EveryLifeIsBeautiful.com