Archive for the ‘Bonhoeffer’ Category

I have been inactive for quite a while on this site. However, I’m going to get back at it. I plan to post a series of meditations on biblical texts by Gerhard Von Rad. Von Rad was one of the Christian theologians and pastors in Germany who opposed the Nazi ideology. Of the 18,000 protestant pastors in the 1930s in Germany, about 5000 jointed the pro-Nazi German Christian movement and 7000 joined the “Confessing Church” which opposed recognition of any leader other than Christ. Von Rad was one of the 7000 who did not bow the knee to Baal.
Here is a prayer the Hitler Youth were taught, one which von Rad would have considered idolatry :

Schütze, Herr, mit starker Hand
unser Volk und Vaterland!
Laß’ auf unsres Führers Pfade
leuchten Deine Huld und Gnade!
Weck’ in unserem Herz aufs neue
deutscher Ahnen Kraft und Treue!
Und so laß’ uns stark und rein
Deine deutschen Kinder sein![190]

Protect, O Lord, with your strong hand,
Our people and our fatherland!
Allow upon our leader’s course
To shine your mercy and your grace!
Awaken in our hearts anew
Our German bloodline, loyalty, and strength!
And so allow us, strong and pure,
To be your German youth!


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Saturday  June 30

Dear Mark,

Sorry I haven’t emailed you earlier, but I’ve been trying to condense the great topics and discussions and questions we are enjoying in our theological dialogue here in Sigtuna. We have a good number of participants and many new historical issues and differing theological aspects of Bonhoeffer’s life and theology that we have been presented with from the lecturers…that really have been interesting.

First of all…the Sigtuna location for this Congress has been an excellent choice…both for its beautiful, comfortable, and ascetic qualities that lend themselves so well to group theological interaction and the wonderful fellowship that Bonhoeffer Congresses seem to initiate and and provide a sense of continuity for returning and new participants each year. The rooms here are very nice and the food has been the best (I think) ever.

Secondly, the historical reality that Bishop Bell and Bonhoeffer had their secret meeting here in Sigtuna (in an upper room in a building down in the village of Sigtuna, rather than here on this campus) makes this very special as the Congresses , I believe , are always held at places Bonhoeffer met with people in ecumenical and in critical consideration of how to apply Christian thought and action to resistance to Hitler and the Nazi tragedy for the German people. This location for the Congress makes us feel the living history of Bonhoeffer’s lasting influence on the contemporary, authentic and world changing witness of Christians and Churches trying to live in faith to God, Christ and one another. We have taken several trips to the upper room where Bell and Bonhoeffer met.

And, thirdly…concepts have come up in the lectures each day that give us several new things to question and consider. I can’t address them all, but here are some of the issues and discussions:

What if Bishop Bell’s and Bonhoeffer’s meeting had gained the response and help of the British and the Allies to assist and really respond to what Bonhoeffer and the other conspirators were trying to do?

What about the new issue for many of us that the longstanding question of how could a Christian get involved in assassinating a governmental leader? What has come up in this Congress is the concept of “Tyrannicide” having some sense of justification in attempting to topple and murderous governmental leader? “Tyrannicide” was something new to many of us in this Congresses’ lectures and discussion.

I must stop here, but will try to give you a more thorough report when I get home (although I must humbly admit there is a wealth of issues in this Congress that will take me some time to try to look at again to come up with hopefully accurate descriptions of what we have been presented with here at Sigtuna.

Yours in Christ,


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It’s February, the month of St. Valentine’s Day, so I will be posting a few selections from “Love Letters from Cell 92” the letters exchanged between Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his fiancee Maria while he was imprisoned.

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Einleitung, Ruth-Alice von Bismark  (Maria’s sister)

“Ich werde nicht älter als 39 Jahre werden”,

hat Dietrich Bonhoeffer einmal einem Studenten gegenüber geäußert.  In seinem 37. Jahr aber begegnet er seiner Frau.

In den drei Jahren, den nun folgen, vollenden sich sein Werk und sein Leben.  Welchen Anteil hat daran das Mädchen, das sich für ihn entscheidet?

. . .

Maria von Wedemeyer ist gerade 18 Jahre alt und hat ihr Abitur hinter sich, als sie Dietrich Bonhoeffer bei ihrer Großmutter wiedertrifft.  Sie kennt ihn als “Pastor Bonhoeffer”.  Die Großmutter hat ihn in seiner Bedeutung früh erkannt und ist ihm Bundesgenossin im Kirchenkampf und mütterliche Freundin geworden.  In ihrem Hause schreibt Bonhoeffer unter anderem an seinem damals bekanntesten Werk “Nachfolge”.

Brautbriefe Zelle 92. Herausgegeben von Ruth-Alice von Bismarck und Ulrich Kabitz.  München: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1992, 2006.


das Abitur secondary school diploma
qualifying for admission to university
der Anteil part
die Bedeutung importance
der Bundesgenosse,  die –in, ally
die Frau (intended) wife
der Kirchenkampf church struggle
die Nachfolge discipleship (i.e., The Cost of Discipleship, English title before the Bonhoeffer Works English edition)


äußern remark
begegnen meet
entscheiden sich für decide for (i.e. agreed to marry)

erkennen recognize
vollenden sich (psv) were completed
werden,  1) become; ist geworden became 2) future “will”
wiedertreffen meet again (he had taught her confirmation class earlier, which she failed!)

Andere Wörter

bekanntest best known
damals then, at that time
einmal once
früh early
gegenüber to, in conversation with
gerade just
unter anderem among other things

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Dummheit ist ein gefährlicherer Feind des Guten als Bosheit.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” Nach zehn Jahren” in Widerstand und Ergebung, 14.

die Bosheit evil

die Dummheit stupidity

der Feind enemy

gefährlicherer more dangerous

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John Hobbins at Ancient Hebrew Poetry cites an article by Moltmann on Bonhoeffer’s reading of the Old Testament: Jürgen Moltmann, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer und die politische Theologie. Eine persönliche Würdigung,” Orientierung 2 (2006) 14-18.

Moltmann introduces the Bonhoeffer passage with these words:

Bonhoeffer beginnt das Neue Testament vom Alten Testament her zu lesen und nicht umgekehrt …

The selections from Bonhoeffer’s letter may be read here, here, and here.  (Or click on the Bonhoeffer Index tab above and see letter #2.)

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You will notice at the top a new page called, “Bonhoeffer Index.”  Just click on the page for an index of all the selections from Bonhoeffer’s letters that have been posted since this site was born in 2007.  The letters are basically in the order in which they were first posted, which is roughly in chronological order.

If you right click on the highlighted titles, it will open a new tab; then after reading you can return to the index.  Or you can use the left click if you only want to look at one selection in a session.

The  search box on the upper right of the screen is also a useful way of finding specific passages.  Just enter a keyword.

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