Many people want to stand for something. We desperately want to believe that we are the type of person who would fight for a cause, suffer for it, or die for it. For most of us, this leads us to throw in a few buck for a fundraiser or half heartedly attend a rally.
Eric Metaxas’ mammoth biography of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Spy chronicles the life of a man who did what is almost forgotten in the western church: suffered and died for his beliefs. Two things stand out from me from his story:
1. Bonhoeffer took his faith seriously, in a time when that wasn’t popular. He was a scholar during the height of the early 20th century war between fundamentalism and the social gospel. The German scholarly tradition he had inherited had given up belief in the inspiration, miracles, and perhaps even God. Bonhoeffer stood for a living God and Christ, yet did not get bogged down in the modernist arguments between the two camps. Instead, he formed communities of praxis, that spend every day in the word, seeking both scholarly and personal understanding. It seems that he was too busy doing “Life Together” to get caught up in the arguments.
2. Truly believing in Christ will lead you to action. As Hitler’s National Socialism eclipsed German, Bonhoeffer actively stood against him. First it was as a scholar, teaching about the danger of a fuhrer and the importance of the jews. Then it was as a prophet. While leading ex-pat churches in England, Bonhoeffer called out the Christian leaders who had signed up with Hitler, pointing out the fallacy of their anti-semitic and anti-bible doctrine. His faith even led him to deceive. He eventually returned to Germany and worked for the German government. He used his position to continue pastoring and to lead Jews to safety. This led to his eventual imprisonment and execution.
After reading about the life of Bonhoeffer, it makes me wonder what I believe deeply enough in to fight for or even die. Do I have a deep enough understanding of my faith to fight for it, when the majority of culture is sponsoring evil?
More than anything, it makes me want to live a great life, be a man, and leave a legacy of faith.