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

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and theologian who was born in 1906 and executed at the direct orders of Adolf Hitler on April 9, 1945, at the Flossenberg prison in Bavaria. On this centenary of his birth, we offer a series of excerpts from the writings of a man who is justly honored as one of the great witnesses-as in "martyrs"- of the century past.

Shortly before the outbreak of the war, Bonhoeffer was studying in the United States and became personally acquainted with Reinhold Niebuhr and other major American thinkers. Convinced that his duty required him to share the fate of his people, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany-to life and death under a regime he conspired to overthrow. From Pastor Bonhoeffer we have a number of books, all happily in print in English and some of them undoubted classics: Life Together, The Cost of Discipleship, Letters and Papers from Prison, and his Ethics. The following is from the last work, published by Macmillan: "Our forefathers are for us not ancestors who are made the object of worship and veneration. Interest in genealogies can all too easily become mythologization, as was known already to the writers of the New Testament (1 Timothy 1:4). …

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