Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dietrich Bonhöffer and the Baptism of Christ

    On the 7th July 1939 the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer boarded a liner in New York that would carry him back to Germany and almost certain death at the hands of Hitler. He did not have to return to Germany. He had arrived in the United States only a month previously, a refugee from the Nazis. As a leading Lutheran pastor he had been striving to persuade the Protestant churches to oppose Hitler. When he was offered a post in New York it seemed the ideal solution, because it would take him away from danger.

    But in New York he realized that he simply had to return. For better or for worse, he would share the fate of the German people, he would stand alongside them and be part of them. On his return he encouraged Christian resistance to the Nazis who eventually executed him in spring 1945.

    Bonhoeffer’s return was a most profound gesture of solidarity. He put himself into a situation where there was great sin, great suffering and great danger, because he wanted to be among the people to help them. In this he was surely true to his master, Jesus Christ, who, as we hear today, went down into the waters of baptism.
Read the rest — Sunday Reflection with Father Terry Tastard - 9 January 2011.

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Bonhoeffer is one of the great Protestant saints of the 20th century. A Christian theologian who saw the need for an active Christian life, he is one of the great figures in modern German history. A couple of points. I just finished reading Eric Maxas' new biography of Bonhoeffer and he points out that Bonhoeffer was deeply involved in the various conspiracies to kill Hitler. He was working with German military intelligence to try to kill Hitler, and was even given cover by the for a time. He wasn't just preaching, singing and praying -- although he did a lot of that. He was actively involved in the fight against evil.

I also find it interesting that he was imprisoned, for a time, at the same prison has Bl. Franz Jaegerstaetter. It has never been reported that they ever met, but I can't help but think that they did. In any event, they almost certainly met in heaven.

One of the stronger arguments against abortion, and the one that converted from as a college student from a reluctant pro-choicer to an ardent pro-lifer, is Bonhoeffer's statement on that barbarous practice in his unfinished Ethics. That was the book he was working on when he was arrested.

11:38 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Amen to all that! A conservative blog for peace's Serge pointed out on this blog recently that the walls of schism do not reach as high as Heaven.

I had never known of the possible connection to Blessed Franz Jägerstätter! Amazing!

Also interesting to note is that said conspiracies to kill Hitler were led by Bavarian Catholic Aristocrats like Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg.

Protestant intellectuals united with Catholic nobles and peasants!

3:56 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Thanks also for noting that this spiritual giant offered "[o]ne of the stronger arguments against abortion."

Rev. Bonhöffer, like Dorothy Day other latter-day heroes of the religious left, had the same opinion of "that barbarous practice" as we do.

In fact, it is grotesque and absurd that those who think themselves defenders of the "little guy" so often turn a blind eye to abortion.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Ulledalen said...

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6:55 PM  

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.