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.