Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Surely, God Would Not Require Me to __________________.

I finished the abridged version of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. While reading it I found myself stopping frequently to sift through Bonhoeffer's theological quandaries and the ethical barbs in his brilliant mind. The young pastor grappled with--rather than trifled with--the unique time and circumstances in which he was called to live out his faith in Christ. It was personally agonizing to follow his story and try to stand in his shoes as he wrestled with the moral/ethical dilemma that plagued him. In the end, Bonhoeffer believed that all means of bloodlessly removing Hitler were exhausted. Only one option remained. Bonhoeffer became part of an assassination plot to kill Hitler. The attempt failed, and Bonhoeffer and many of his co-conspirators were hanged. In their final confessions none of them feared they had acted in disobedience to God. On the contrary, they believed they had taken the high road.

Bonhoeffer's ethical conclusions regarding Hitler are discussed to this day. But I saw a man who followed his spiritual reasoning as far as he could, and then he acted upon those conclusions. He believed to do less was to do less than required. I couldn't disagree.

For many years--and to this day--I have believed that the greatest enemy of our faith is our own determination to avoid the quandaries of trust and obedience to God. In Bonhoeffer's case his context was unusual. Extreme. But his courageous faith led him to explore and respond to the unspeakable atrocities of Nazism. He knew that his response had to be out of the truest sense of who and what he was--a follower of Christ.

Not for a minute am I advocating that in our country we are presently living in such a context as Bonhoeffer. Yet, a continuous bombardment from saints and sinners alike shout for us to opt for the softest life possible, rather than respond to the moral/ethical quandaries and dilemmas in full surrender to Christ. An endless loop of voices would convince us that: Surely, God would not require me to _____________ [fill in the blank].

If this continues history may very well repeat itself.


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