Ethics and the Will of God: The Peacemaking Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In this clip, Krista Tippett, from America Public Media, examines the life, theology, and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It overviews Bonhoeffer as a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi, and founding member of the Confessing Church. He was involved with the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) and associated with groups that sought to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and executed by hanging in April 1945, 23 days before the Nazis’ surrender.

Bonhoeffer’s view of Christianity and its role in the politics of the secular world has become very influential. His life spanned the rise and fall of Hitler’s Germany and offers us a model of personal morality and conscience in the most troubled and immoral of times. He is an important model for Christian pacific activism today. His resistance of Nazi ideology, while much of the German church succumbed, is a testament to his moral vision and faith.

Last year, Mark Thiessen Nation teamed up with Anthony G. Siegrist, and Daniel P. Umbel to author the book Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking (BakerAcademic, 2013). In this book they follow Bonhoeffer’s theological development very closely to argue against the common assumption that Bonhoeffer was actually involved in any plots to kill Hitler. Rather than summarize their argument here, I will simply refer to several other blogs and reviews that take on the discussion.

Scot McKnight , over at Jesus Creed, has a decent review and discussion about how the book has affected his own views on Bonhoeffer–and some interesting information about how he adjusted some of his work on the Sermon on the Mount because it.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/11/01/bonhoeffer-and-the-conspiracy/

Roger Olsen, on the other hand, has a rather negative–and quite shallow, I think–review of the book on his blog as well.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2013/10/was-dietrich-bonhoeffer-a-would-be-assassin-review-of-a-new-book/

But, perhaps the best review is that of Mark Nation’s himself, in his response to Olson’s review.
http://emu.edu/now/anabaptist-nation/2013/10/19/bonhoeffer-the-assassin-response-to-roger-olsens-critical-review/

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