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Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Christian during World War II. He was a Lutheran theologian, pastor, and leader of the Confessing Church, which opposed the anti-Semitic ...

Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Christian during World War II. He was a Lutheran theologian, pastor, and leader of the Confessing Church, which opposed the anti-Semitic policies of the Nazis. Arrested by the Gestapo in April 1943 and imprisoned in a series of camps, he was finally hanged at Flossenburg on April 9, 1945, a few weeks before that city was liberated. While in prison, he wrote parts of his great work, Ethics, including a treatise on the role of the church in the modern world:

The way of Jesus Christ, and therefore the way of all Christian thinking, leads not from the world to God but from God to the world. This means that the essence of the gospel does not lie in the solution of human problems, and that the solution of human problems cannot be the essential task of the Church.

The Church’s word to the world is the word of the incarnation of God, of the love of God for the world in the sending of His Son, and of God’s judgment upon unbelief. The word of the Church is the call to conversion, the call to belief in the love of God in Christ, and the call to preparation for Christ’s second coming and for the future kingdom of God.

Bonhoeffer articulated a unique and timeless perspective on the relationship between the Church and God. The church is God’s vehicle for redeeming the world, not the world’s vehicle for bringing its problems to God. This perspective is as vital today as ever.

This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations.

—Luke 24:46–47


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