Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Bonhoeffer Today

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Bonhoeffer Today

Article excerpt

Totalitarian movements, such as National Socialism, seek to reorganize the entirety of human life. Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was killed for his resistance to the Nazis, believed that there was a deeper resistance built into the order of nature. Bonhoeffer was ambivalent toward the tradition of "natural law," insisting that the natural order must be understood Christocentrically, that is, in relation to God's saving purposes in Christ. But there is no doubt that he had a profound respect for the natural, as is evident in the following from his Ethics:

The fact that it is at all possible to injure the natural is adequately explained by the relative liberty of the preserved life. In the abuse of this relative liberty some given entity within the fallen world posits itself as an absolute, declares itself to be the source of the natural, and thereby disintegrates the natural life. …

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