Dabbling With My Dilettante Mind

Memorial plaque, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Zionskir...

Memorial plaque, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Zionskirchplatz , Berlin-Mitte, Germany Koordinate: 52°32′4″N 13°24′14″E / °S °W / ; latd>90 (dms format) in latd latm lats longm longs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Cheap Grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘Discipleship’

Standing against the tyrannous atrocities of Hitler, Dietrich Bonhoeffer followed Jesus through the dark gallows to his death. Hanged for treason against the German government, Bonhoeffer became a heroic figure for humanity. He stood, suffered, and died for the cause of others.

What is a most interesting fact about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the path he considered to be that of a faithful disciple of his Lord… what he believed grace should cost him. Some would argue in agreement with his choices, while others would disagree. He took a stance against his own government and its leader. This is a difficult topic to find resolution with, for the question needs answered, “Is it biblically okay to no longer be in submission to one’s government (Romans 13)?”

Did the evil acts committed by Nazi Germany warrant the disobedience, or is the costly grace spoken of by Bonhoeffer a misguided message from a man who in fact failed to apply his own admonitions?

It may be advantageous at this point to remember that the audience Paul wrote his words to… were the severely persecuted by their own government. Bonhoeffer himself questioned whether his choices were right or not.

Is there a time when a government acts in such a way as to make it allowable to resist rather than submit?

In reality, the conclusion of Bonhoeffer’s life gives us some knowledge of what drove him to his actions. It becomes obvious that the choices he made were done so without selfish intent. There was no motivation for self-preservation or self-gratification, for in the end Bonhoeffer was punished for his treason.

What is the Church’s rightful call to duty when it sees wrongs being done by those who were given authority for the good of the people? Had he been born seventy-five years later, what do you suppose Bonhoeffer would have seen as the great call of this generation? How might he respond to that call today?

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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8 Responses to Dabbling With My Dilettante Mind

  1. Pingback: The Choking Burden of Worry « Learning to Be

  2. Pingback: The Boldly Intolerant God of Dietrich Bonhoeffer « The Largest Democracy

  3. I think Paul’s point in Romans 13 needs to be balanced with Peter’s response in Acts 5:29 “We ought to obey GOD rather than man” and before that his refusal to comply with orders not to preach in the Name of Jesus.

    I doubt we encounter times (yet) when it becomes necessary to directly disobey the law. Where we disagree, we have avenues that give us a right to express our disagreement and we SHOULD use these – both as individuals and as local Churches.

    I hope the time doesn’t come when we have to directly disobey our Government, but if it does, I hope we will rise up in unison and stand for the King of kings.

  4. Pingback: How Bonhoeffer Saw the Grace of Luther | Resting in His Grace

  5. Hank says:

    A misinterpretation of Romans 13 has been a thorn in the side of the church for quite sometime. I do not believe that it requires of us ultimate submission to government. The passage lays down what government will do when they are acting as God’s representatives. When they fail to do this then, in my opinion, they fail to be His representatives and are therefore to be resisted. When they begin to call white black and black white and evil good and good evil then they are no longer a “terror unto evil” but a terror unto good works. To not resist is to allow evil to be performed upon one’s family and no true Christian father will allow evil to be brought upon his family and sit back and let it take place. My ultimate submission is to Jesus Christ and to what he says is righteous and true. When government stands against that, then I stand against government and let the chips fall where they may. I understand your point of to whom Paul was speaking but that only goes so far. Sometimes the very act of preaching, which God commands, violates the laws that Romans 13 supposedly requires us to submit to. Remember what Peter said also in the book of Acts when warned by the authorities to no longer preach in Jesus name, “should I obey God or men?”. When government requires me to disobey God, government can bite me. 🙂

  6. Dietrich Bonhoeffer- a life that has always inspired me! I saw a film about him after reading “The Cost of Discipleship” and wept a great deal over him. He returned from the safety of America to Germany knowing that harm awaited him, but he would not leave his fellow ministers to suffer alone. While in prison, he encouraged everyone around him and inspired even the guards. What a faithful witness to Christ!

  7. Susan Michaels says:

    Thank you for this…I was introduced to Bonhoeffer’s ‘Cost of Discipleship’ in my late teens and thank God for that early ‘planting’ of truth that…yes…discipleship costs something. Great post!

  8. lambskinny says:

    Depends on your point of view. For example the men on United 93 resisted evil and became heroes on 9/11. I doubt anyone questions the rightness of their action.

    But some Christians may view one political party as “doing evil” while other Christians may view the other party as “doing evil.”

    Why did some in the Church support Hitler? That’s the real rub!

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