“Christians in Germany will face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive, or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying our civilization,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his sermon before leaving the United States.
He was staying in America as a professor at the Union Theological Seminary. The German pastor, who had already been persecuted ever since Hitler came into power, however, went back to his home country, where death was awaiting him, after saying the quote above. Ultimately, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested in 1943 for plotting the plan to assassinate Hitler and ended his life at the gallows shortly before the end of the war in 1945 at the age of 39. “This is the end — but for me, the beginning,” said the pastor to other prisoners before he was executed. Why did someone who loved his life more than anyone else give it away himself? The answer lies within his saying that only those who love land and God can believe in God’s world.
“Holy” clergy sought after a general trend called the Nazis. The theologian who loved this land and the people in the land, however, chose death instead. He believed that the world of God is a world of resurrection that happens in land. This writer was in late 20s when I first met Bonhoeffer. It was a time of great conflict between a traditional Christian belief that one needs to avoid the world for enlightenment and the movement for revolution and grave reality.
Bonhoeffer’s dialectic that loving this world is loving god freed this writer from the “world of pretext.” He criticized those who believed that they are redeemed for just believing in God or a Holy Communion without any confession of sins as “cheap grace.” The world we are living in is full of politicians, who repeat that everything is for the citizens at the end of every speech, commercial capital who say they love customers that they have never met and religion that sells the afterworld for this world. The life and writings of Bonhoeffer is a high mountain that makes this writer look back on myself from time to time.