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Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s 105th Birthday

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Today is the 105th anniversary of the birth of the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. From the R&L archives:

Bonhoeffer’s resistance to the Nazi regime included his support for and pastoral participation in the Confessing Church along with other prominent Protestant theologians like Karl Barth and Martin Niemöller, as well as his intricate association with the broader ecumenical movement. When the effectiveness of the Confessing Church’s opposition to Hitler was blunted and his efforts to bring the moral authority of the ecumenical movement to bear failed, Bonhoeffer became involved with the so-called Abwehr conspiracy, which intended to assassinate Hitler, overthrow the Nazi regime, and end the war.

After imprisonment for his role in the escape of Jews to Switzerland, Bonhoeffer was implicated in the failed assassination attempt of July 20, 1944. At the age of thirty-nine, he was hanged by the S.S. at the Flossenbürg concentration camp on April 9, 1945, just weeks before the liberation of the area under Allied troops. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and death are a testament to his commitment to the Christian faith and his ardent opposition to the absolutism and idolatry of Nazi Germany.

I also recommend checking out the new biography by Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. You can read my review of Metaxas’ book here.

The single best work of Bonhoeffer’s to familiarize yourself with his life and thought is the little classic, Life Together.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • JohnElfering

    Eric Metaxas recently spoke in Denver at the Archbishop’s Lecture series: “Deitrich Bonhoeffer: Why he matters today”.

    The audio recording can be found here:

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  • The Metaxas book on Bonhoeffer is quite good. His life in Germany of the rising Hitler years is extremely motivating and interesting, and his visit to America in 1939 leads to some stunning critique.

    It occurs to me that there are many similarities between Bonhoeffer and CS Lewis, each for his own country. That being the case, who would America’s Lewis/Bonhoeffer?

  • Hello,
    the main aim of Bonhoeffer was not the resistance but the renewal of the German Evangelical Church (former DEK, today EKD). In Germany their are evil powers trying to turn and to fix publics gaze on Bonhoeffers resistance activity. Everybody must admit that the Third Reich is over and the EKD sill exists with her problems. It is high time to turn the gaze away from Bonhoeffers resistance activity to his activity as reformer of the Church. Assumed Bonhoeffer would be recognized as very gifted theologian and assumed his theology would be applyed the EKD had to change totally.

    I have just started a website concerning this issue:

    Kind regards,
    Rainer Braendlein (Munich, Germany)