Heroes of the Faith: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

By Ethan , June 12, 2022

History Recap: Germany Pre-WWII

  • The once flourishing country had been crippled economically and politically by the first World War
  • 1921: 75 marks = $1 U.S.
  • 1923: 4 billion marks = $1 U.S.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer's dad used an insurance policy, which he had invested in for decades, to purchase a measly few strawberries
  • Instability, depression, and humiliation were the necessary factors for Hilter's acension. Hilter, a cunning and ruthless manipulator, branded himself a champion of the German people and of the church

Where Dietrich Bonhoeffer Fits In

  • At this point in time, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was studying at the university in Berlin. He had a brilliant mind. He took his first doctorate at 21 and a second three years later
  • He loved academia, but he loved the church more
  • Bonhoeffer was essentially a professor by day and a youth pastor by night

Hilter and Bonhoeffer: On a Collision Course

  • In 1933, Hitler passed the Aryan Paragraph, effectively removing anyone of non-Aryan or Jewish heritage from civil service, including the church
  • Most church leaders compromised, but Bonhoeffer responded with a prophetic charisma, calling Christians to action
  • He said, “It is not enough just to bandage the victims under the wheel–but to put a spoke in the wheel itself”
  • Bonhoeffer would be joined by thousands of German church leaders, forming a resistance movement known as the Confessing Church
  • It was too little, too late
  • Hilter made it illegal to associate with non-Nazi churches
  • Bonhoeffer could not stand idly by and made the difficult decision to align himself with the conspiracy movement
  • After three failed assassination attempts, Bonhoeffer and his co-conspirators were arrested by the Gestapo. He would spend the next two years in prison

The End–For Me the Beginning

  • Dietrich left behind a complicated legacy. Was he right? wrong? God only knows
  • What Bonhoeffer does teach us is the difference between “cheap grace” and "costly grace"
  • According to Bonhoeffer, costly grace is “costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life”
  • On April 8, 1945, Bonhoeffer was shuttled to his execution
  • His final recorded words were this, “This is the end–for me the beginning of life”