Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church November 4, 2012 Topics Family Academic training
Time in Barcelona, New York Confessing Church Time in London Finkenwalde Seminary Return to U.S. Agent of Abwehr Arrest, imprisonment, execution Legacy Family Father, Karl professor of neurology and psychiatry, University of Berlin; director of psychiatric clinic, Charite Hospital
Mother, Paula von Hase daughter of Clare von Hase, pupil of Liszt; grand-daughter of Karl von Hase, distinguished church historian, preacher to Kaiser Wilhelm II Paula home-schooled each child until age 6 or 7 A family saying: Germans had their backs broken twice in the course of their lives: first at school, then during military service Family
Eight Bonhoeffer children Karl Friedrich (1899-1957), chemist, worked with Einstein and Max Planck on splitting the atom Walter (1899-1918), killed in action, WWI Klaus (1901-45), lawyer, general counsel for Lufthansa; hospital orderly, WWI; executed 4/23/45 Ursula (1902-83), married lawyer Rdiger Schleicher, who was executed 4/23/45 Family
Eight Bonhoeffer children Christel (1903-65), married to Hans von Dohnanyi, who was executed 4/9/45 (?) Dietrich (1906-45), executed 4/9/45 23 days before German surrender Sabine (1906-99), Dietrichs twin, married to Jewish lawyer/ professor Gerhard Leibholz Susanne (1909-91), married to theologian Walter Dress Academic training Announcement at 14: Want to be theologian
Family thought he would follow in fathers footsteps Brother Klaus: Church is poor, feeble, boring, petty, bourgeois Dietrich:In that case, I shall have to reform it Academic training
First year at Tbingen University, took trip to Rome 1924, enters University of Berlin Center of liberal theology Schleiermacher, Adolf von Harnack Bonhoeffer more aligned with Karl Barth, neoorthodox Swiss theologian Academic training Harnack: Unscientific to speculate on who
God is; just study texts and their history Barth: The God on the other side of the fence revealed himself through the texts; the only reason for the texts was to know him The ONLY way to know anything about God was to rely on revelation FROM God Academic training Completed doctorate at age 21
Sanctorum Communio: A Dogmatic Inquiry into the Sociology of the Church Question that occupied Bonhoeffer his whole life: What is the church? His answer: It is Christ, existing as churchcommunity Time in Barcelona, NYC Too young to be a pastor; vicarage in Barcelona, 1928
Post-graduate study at Union, 1930-31 Studied under Reinhold Niebuhr Critical of theological liberalism at Union; found real preaching and faith in Harlem; Adam Clayton Powell Sr. Mans capacity for justice makes democracy possible; mans capacity for injustice makes democracy necessary
Time in NYC Friends with a student from France, Jean Lasserre Saw All Quiet on the Western Front together Lasserre said the Sermon on the Mount had influenced his theology
1929? Back in Berlin, writing Act and Being, a continuation of his dissertation Completing it would make him eligible to be a university lecturer Submitted, accepted in 1931 after he returned
from America Confessing Church Confessing Church Bonhoeffer opposed Nazism from the start 1/30/33 Radio address two days later warning against the idea of Der Fhrer 4/33 Told his fellow churchmen that the church must resist Hitler, speak up for Jews, who have no
voice 7/33 Hitler imposes new church elections; rigged, and most positions went to Nazi sympathizers Lutheran churches of Bavaria, Hanover, Wrttemberg remain intact, not corrupted Confessing Church 8/33 Opposition church leaders ask Bonhoeffer to write Bethel Confession; after revisions, he refuses to sign too watered down 9/33 Bonhoeffer helps organize the Pfarrernotbund, forerunner to Confessing Church
9/33 National church accepts the Aryan Paragraph prohibits non-Aryans from parish post 9/33 Bonhoeffer refuses parish post in Berlin in protest Confessing Church 5/34 Confessing Church founded at Barmen in opposition to Nazi Party; Karl Barth writes the Barmen Declaration Christ, not Hitler, is the head of the church
Not a large movement, but a substantial source of opposition to Nazis Time in London Disheartened, Bonhoeffer takes a two-year appointment in London in autumn 1933 Becomes pastor to two German-speaking churches Barth accused Bonhoeffer of running away
Bonhoeffer used time to generate contacts, support in the ecumenical movement; very important for later activities Finkenwalde Seminary Bonhoeffer starts underground seminary in 1935 Seminarians led communal life Had to meditate on Scripture each
day and sing! Nazis closed in September 1937; arrested 27 pastors and students by November Seminary on the run taking place as he traveled from village to village Cost of Discipleship published in 1937 Return to U.S.
2/38 Bonhoeffer makes initial contact with German Resistance; introduced by Dohnanyi Learned that war was imminent; could not swear an oath to Hitler, was concerned about being drafted Went to the U.S. in 6/39; friends arranged to help protect him Returned quickly to Germany; felt called by God to
be with his people Agent of Abwehr Back in Germany, harassed by Nazis Had to report regularly to police Forbidden to publish in 1941 Joined the Abwehr, a branch of military intelligence AND a center of resistance Dohnanyi brought him in; claimed Bonhoeffers wide ecumenical contacts would be good for Germany
Gave him cover to travel, seek support from other nations for the German resistance Bonhoeffer knew he was supporting and engaging in a movement to assassinate Hitler Arrest Arrested April 6, 1943 He, Dohnanyi helped 14 Jews (Abwehr agents) get to Switzerland; sent large sums of money
to them; were charged with corruption Charges Subverting Nazi policy toward Jews Evading military call-up Using Abwehr to circumvent ban on public speaking Using Abwehr to further Confessing Church activities Imprisonment, execution In a military prison at Tegel for a year and a half Supportive of fellow inmates Respected by guards; one offered to help him escape
July 20, 1944 one of several plots to kill Hitler fails 9/44 Abwehr documents found, tie Bonhoeffer to assassination plot Transferred to Reich security prison, then Buchenwald in 2/45, then Flossenbrg Diary of Abwehr head found 4/4/45; Hitler goes into rage Bonhoeffer hangs on 4/9/45, two weeks before Flossenbrg is liberated Legacy Christocentric approach appeals to conservative, confessionminded Protestants Social justice, religionless Christianity appeal to liberal Protestants
The Incarnation combining body and spirit, affirming flesh makes it unacceptable to speak of God and the world in terms of two spheres Christians should not retreat from the world but act within it Christians must be a voice for those who cant speak for themselves Legacy
What is truth? Gods standard is more than merely not lying To be true to God meant having a relationship with him, not living legalistically by rules and principles Be willing to act in response to God He felt moved beyond the easy legalism of truth-telling Believed that responsible includes readiness to accept both guilt and freedom To live in fear of incurring guilt is itself sinful God wants us to operate out of freedom and joy to do what is right and good, not out of fear of making a mistake Impossible to avoid incurring guilt, but if you wish to live responsibly and fully, you will be willing to do so Next week Read through page 56 foreword, memoir, introduction, first chapter
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