For those in Iowa, there’s a worthwhile piece of history on Monday’s public television. I believe it was Bonhoeffer who said, “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die.” And when he was in prison for opposing Hitler, a friend (so I’ve heard, anyway) said, “Dietrich, why are you here?” Bonhoeffer responded, “Why are you not here?”
Here’s text from IPTV. See a more complete description at the PBS Bonhoeffer page (click here).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was among the first to oppose Adolf Hitler. As a young pastor, he helped establish the Confession Church, Germany’s only true organized challenge to the Nazi state. Through Bonhoeffer’s own writings and the firsthand accounts of those who lived through the experience with him, the documentary Bonhoeffer presents Nazism and the Holocaust in a new light, letting viewers see a creative model for the role of the church in a “world coming of age.” Bonhoeffer airs Monday, April 24 at 9 p.m.
Seems like an important example for our times. We people of faith – like all people, I guess – tend to fall in line behind the worldviews of popular leaders. If those leaders are of a religious outlook that we endorse, we easily assume they are right and thoughtful on a host of issues.
And thus, godly people have ended up backing a host of notions that bear little resemblance to Jesus: apartheid in South Africa, slavery in the USA, Crusades in western history. “How could they?” we ask. Here’s how: I am sure all those things felt like the Christian duty of those who participated in them.
Are we immune to such attractions today – those ideas that seem right to so many but sit so uncomfortably next to our image of Jesus? Those things we figure people smarter than us have figured out, and they’re best left alone? Those things we just can’t talk about without everyone freezing up?
Want an freeze-up example? Try pre-emptive war. Every Christian theory of war ever written opposes it. But we evangelicals have been mostly unwilling to bring it up. Why this unmentioned elephant in the room?