Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Q. Interested in your thoughts on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As a Lutheran pastor Bonhoeffer was apparently guilty of conspiring with a group of Germans to murder Hitler. While we should oppose evil, are we ever justified in taking life in this manner? I know of no acts in the New Testament of early Christians conspiring to murder or even over throw governments or rulers, however detestable.

A. You’re right. There are no cases of Christians plotting to overthrow governments. In fact Paul goes to the other end of the spectrum, claiming all governments are instituted by God. (Romans 13:1) But I notice that many are calling Bonhoeffer a 20th century martyr, having given his life in resisting the Nazi movement. I don’t know what his role was, or if he was actually guilty of plotting Hitler’s death. We know that people who speak out against tyranny are sometimes convicted of things they didn’t actually do. What I’ve read of Bonhoeffer’s theology reminds me of the letter from James, and as such is something the Church needs to pay more attention to.

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