When facing catastrophic events, some individuals choose to numb themselves with distractions, hoping to wake up when it’s all over. However, history has shown us that such an approach can lead to dire consequences. In the 1940s, Germany experienced the rise of an evil dictatorship under Adolf Hitler, resulting in the murder of six million Jews. Looking back at that time, we can draw lessons from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life, a Christian who stood against Hitler’s regime and sought to warn the German people. In Eric Metaxas’s book, “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,” the events and actions surrounding Bonhoeffer’s life are vividly portrayed, offering insights into our present-day divisions and the urgency of standing for truth. We covered this book on Bonhoeffer on two VFNtv programs “Is this a Dietrich Bonhoeffer Moment?”
A Divided Nation: Germany’s Prelude to Tyranny
Germany during the pre-war years was a nation in turmoil, experiencing confusion and deep divisions. The people were introduced to a democratic form of government, hoping it would bring peace during such catastrophic times. However, amidst the chaos, Adolf Hitler emerged as the elected leader, promising to rectify the situation. Hitler aimed to change the religious beliefs of the people and successfully fostered division, particularly against the Jews. The church of the time sought to align with the government, hoping to influence its decisions. In the face of these events, Bonhoeffer recognized the danger and resolved to be a voice of warning. Unfortunately, his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Lessons for Today’s Divided America
Today, America is witnessing divisions on numerous fronts, encompassing topics ranging from the Constitution and law enforcement to education, marriage, and family. In Luke 11:17, Jesus warns that any kingdom or house divided against itself will fall. If individuals within a society are divided against their spouses, children against their parents, parents against educators, and a nation against its founding principles, it should come as no surprise when it crumbles. The clarion call from our generation’s Bonhoeffer-like voice is clear: the urgency to act is now.
Unity in the Face of Division
To respond effectively to the warnings being sounded, unity is crucial. The Moravians understood this principle well, adhering to the motto: “In essentials, Unity; in non-essentials, Liberty; in all things, Charity.” As the church, it is imperative to find unity amidst a culture that fosters division. What we unify around matters more than the act of unifying itself. We must humbly come together at the foot of the Cross of Christ, recognizing that it is through Him we find true unity and the strength to stand against the rising tides of evil.
How Dietrich Bonhoeffer Stood
- Bonhoeffer served as a Christian pastor during the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.
2. He witnessed the confusion and division among the German people during that critical time.
3. Bonhoeffer recognized the dangers posed by Hitler’s regime and sought to sound the horn of warning to the German people.
4. He spoke out against Hitler’s attempts to change the religious beliefs of the people and successfully divide them, particularly targeting the Jews.
5. Bonhoeffer opposed the merger of the church with the government, understanding that it could compromise the church’s influence and moral integrity.
6. Despite his efforts, Bonhoeffer’s warnings and pleas went largely unheeded by the people.
7. He played a role in resistance movements against Hitler and the Nazi regime.
8. Bonhoeffer actively participated in plans to overthrow Hitler and worked as a spy.
9. Unfortunately, the resistance efforts were unsuccessful, and Bonhoeffer was arrested in 1943.
10. He spent the remaining years of his life in prison, where he continued to express his faith and provide spiritual guidance to fellow prisoners.
11. In April 1945, just weeks before the end of World War II, Bonhoeffer was executed by being hung bythe Nazis at the Flossenbürg concentration camp. It was said, he had a smile on his face knowing he had done all he could to stand.
These actions and events in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life showcase his courage, faith, and determination to stand against evil, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer serves as a poignant reminder of the dangers of apathy and division in the face of evil. By studying the events that unfolded in Germany during the 1940s, we gain valuable insights into our present-day struggles. Just as Bonhoeffer sounded the alarm in his time, we must heed the urgent call to stand for truth, unity, and the preservation of our founding principles. Let us learn from the past and act boldly, knowing that the consequences of inaction are too grave to ignore.