In Memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So, I was thinking that it is April 9. For many in the Church that means it is the day we commemorate Dietrich Bonhoeffer who died on this date in 1945 – martyred by his Nazi captors for his role in the plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. Bonhoeffer was 39 years old that day and had already established himself as a brilliant theologian, a dedicated and capable pastor, and ecumenical leader, and a voice that stood in opposition to the Führer from the very beginning.  His role in the plot was to reach out to Church leaders in Allied countries to seek support for the overthrow of Hitler from Allied leaders.

Bonhoeffer has been an influential figure in the Church since his death. It would be hard to estimate how deeply Bonhoeffer’s life and works have influenced my own faith journey. He left behind books that are still published, read and re-read to this day.  His story is a compelling vision of life as a disciple in our age. Books like The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, Spiritual Care, Letters and Papers from Prison and Psalms: Prayerbook of the Bible are standard fare and absolute must reads for any Christian.  Amazon.com offers a page dedicated to his works. 

LivingLutheran.com has observed today by lifting up some key quotes that offer just a little taste of Bonhoeffer’s wisdom — check it out:  In commemoration: Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Seeds – LivingLutheran.com.

The story of Bonhoeffer’s life is told best in three works.  The newest is by Eric Metaxas in his Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy; Perhaps the oldest, and very intimate portrait is written by Bonhoeffer’s best friend, Eberhard Bethge – Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography;  A third offering is also new.  Martin Marty has written Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison: A Biography looks at this one, very influential and oft misunderstood collection of his writing while in prison.

So, on this day we remember one of the saints whose witness echoes into history.  Say a prayer in thanks for brother Dietrich today, if you don’t mind.

Pax Christi – Pastor Tim

2 thoughts on “In Memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    • Pastor Tim Olson says:

      Lowell – I’m not aware of a listing of favorites, though a couple of titles may show up in the Metaxas biography. I do recall that he appreciated the hopefulness of the songs in the face of suffering. That would point to songs like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” “Deep River” Steal Away” He also seemed to simply like the genre as a whole, so maybe that is why I can’t recall a favorite list. You might find this site helpful – especially the section that covers 1925-1985. Bonhoeffer was in the US before the war.Hope that helps!

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