Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As many of you already know, I have been working towards an Associate’s Degree in Biblical Studies at Colorado Christian University (online). I thought I would share some of my work here on my blog. The following paper was my final for my History of Christianity course last semester. This course was fascinating! Even though I have extensively studied the Bible itself, I have never really studied Christian History between the Bible and now until this course. Our final assignment was to choose an influential person in Christian History to write about. I received full credit for this assignment! 
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Session 5 Final Paper: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Alysa Sawyer

Colorado Christian University

“The history of Christianity is intensive and complicated. There are many men and women who impacted the course of Christianity whether for good or for bad. It was difficult to choose a single person to focus on for this assignment. Besides the obvious examples such as Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, etc. there are many who are lesser known. Katherine von Bora, as Martin Luther’s wife, had great influence in her husband’s life and ministry. John Bunyan wrote one of the greatest Christian allegories ever written: Pilgrim’s Progress… while in prison. Not to mention any of the many missionaries who’s stories live on for the impact they had on various groups of people and cultures. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is also one who I would consider lesser known, although, he has become better known lately due to the recent publications of his biography (articles and books) and movie documentaries.

I believe that I was first introduced to the history of the holocaust around fifth or sixth grade in history class. In eighth grade, I received a copy of Corrie Ten Boom: Her Story (1995), which included three books in one volume (The Hiding Place,Tramp for the Lord, and Jesus is Victor). Sometime during high school, and again in 2003, I visited the sobering United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Even with my interest in holocaust history over the years, I did not learn about Dietrich Bonhoeffer until I read (portions of) his biography written by Eric Metaxas (2010): Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy for a book club I participated in several years ago.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a young German theologian influenced greatly by men like the German reformer Martin Luther and fellow theologian Karl Barth. He spent time in Germany, England, the United States, and other countries where he continued to study, write, debate, and advocate for the church. It was in the United States that he worshiped at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in an African American community. The pastor, Dr. Adam Clayton Powell Sr., was outspoken about racism and the saving power of Jesus Christ. This church was completely different from those he had encountered in Germany. He also saw racism in America firsthand. (Metaxas, 2010. pp. 107-110).

In pre-war Germany, Bonhoeffer along with Karl Barth and others, were leaders of the Confessing Church, which was against Nazi oppression (Got Questions?org). For a time, Bonhoeffer was a pastor of a church in London, England, where he gained support for German Christians. While in London, he was asked by the Confessing Church to return to Germany as head of a clandestine (secret and possibly illegal) seminary. In 1937, the Reich ordered his seminary to be disbanded. However, Bonhoeffer traveled around and assembled groups of students for further instruction (Gonzalez, 2010. p. 463). The Reich, otherwise known as “German Christians,” was a group that promoted the unification of the German protestant church through the creation of a church that conformed to Nazi ideology and Aryan laws (Metaxas, 2010. p. 151-152).

Bonhoeffer returned to America but increasingly realized that Germans would have to make a choice between truth and patriotism. He wrote the following,

“I have made a mistake in coming to America… I shall have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people… 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. I know which of these alternatives I must choose, but I cannot make that choice in security” (Metaxas, 2010. p. 321)

Over the years, he wrote letters to friends outside of Germany to inform them of what was happening in his country. He also wrote several essays that were outspoken against the Nazi changes in the protestant church. This alienated him from other clergy who wanted a smooth transition and/or connection between the church and politics. In January 1938, he was banned from Berlin and in September 1940 he was banned from public speaking. Through his brother-in-law, Hans von Dohnanyi, he learned about German resistance plans. By using his connections, Dohnanyi helped Bonhoeffer obtain an assignment in the office of Military Intelligence, so he could avoid military service. He used his job to send messages either written or in person during his international travels. In July of 1944, the Military Intelligence office unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the regime. Bonhoeffer was also involved with international plans to get Jews out of Germany by giving them forged papers. In April 1943, Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi were arrested. Initially, he was charged with: “conspiring to rescue Jews, using his foreign travels for non-intelligence matters, and misusing his intelligence position to help Confessing Church pastors evade military service.” His broader connections to the resistance were uncovered after the failed coup attempt in July 1944. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum).

While in prison, transferred several times, Bonhoeffer became the chaplain and he wrote many letters and was involved in the church as he could be from a cell. These letters were eventually published as Letters and Papers from Prison (Got Questions?org). On April 9,1945, he was hanged at the Flossenburg concentration camp along with other conspirators. His brother, Klaus Bonhoeffer, and his brother-in-laws, Hans von Dohnanyi and Rudiger Schleicher, were also executed soon after (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). Allied troops gained control of the prison only a few days after his execution (Gonzalez, 2010. p. 465).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a modern (as in the past century) example of what it means to live and die for Christ while in complete opposition to the government around him. He did not look back on a major event and write or speak about his views in hindsight as many people do. Instead, he lived through one of the most evil movements in recent history and was outspoken about his views during that time. He was one of the few pastors to do so. He said “the church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society. There are things for which an uncompromising stand is worthwhile” (DC Talk, 1999. p. 198). I wonder if Bonhoeffer ever thought he would die for the cause of Christ when he wrote the following passage from The Cost of Discipleship:

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God (Bonhoeffer, 1995. p.45).”

Over the years there has been some debate over the theological views of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. For example, his letter to a friend mentioned a “religionless Christianity” (Gonzalez, 2010. p. 465) or his views on grace and works, which are mentioned in The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer, 1995). Many would suggest that his views are in line with scripture and that his motivation for his political views and actions were pure. Others would suggest that his interests were solely political and that his theology was skewed. I would venture to say that it is difficult for us to know for sure one way or another because his life was cut short by an evil regime. Had he the opportunity to live past the holocaust, I am sure we would have been able to read more clarification of his works from his own words. Still, we can know based on the works that we have, that he strived to seek after the Lord. He clearly did not stand for the Nazi oppression of the Jewish people and others. And, he clearly opposed the church that tried to bow to the political movement of Hitler. This is something that we as Christians in America should remember, especially as our government aims to take more and more control of the people. As popular culture promotes intolerance towards religion, it is not outside the realm of possibilities for American Christians to eventually see real persecution. Will we aid those who are persecuted and stand firm on the foundation of Jesus Christ, or will we conform to the social and political pressure, influence, and deception?

While Bonhoeffer’s life and theology may raise questions within the Christian community, there is no doubt in my mind that he legitimately took a stand for Christ when others did not. Based on what I have read, I believe that he did what he knew he could do to further the kingdom of God and end an evil movement in clear opposition to scripture. He, like the apostle Paul, continued to serve Christ and the people around him while in prison. Dietrich Bonhoeffer truly lived out Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:38-39 (NIV), “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” The last words that he sent to one of his friends before his execution were, “This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.” (DC Talk, 1999). These words, from a man who knows that his death is coming, are encouraging for Christians who will someday meet their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

References:

Bonhoeffer, D. (1995). The Cost of Discipleship. New York, NY: Touchstone.

DC Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs. (1999). Jesus Freaks: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus: The Ultimate Jesus Freaks. Tulsa, OK: Albury Publishing.

Gonzalez, J. L. (2010). The Story of Christianity: The Reformation To the Present Day (Volume2). New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Got Questions?org (2010-2017).Who was Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Retrieved from: https://www.gotquestions.org/Dietrich-Bonhoeffer.html

Metaxas, E. (2010). Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Ten Boom, C. (1995) Corrie Ten Boom: Her Story. (The Hiding Place, Tramp for the Lord, Jesus is Victor). New York, NY: Inspirational Press.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10008205.

*****

Sawyer, A. (2017). Session 5 Final Paper: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Unpublished Essay.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this man! His life story is incredibly interesting. I encourage you to learn more about him! 

Who are your favorite influential people in the Christian History? Why? Post in the comments!

 

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Bible Promises to Live By for Women

This book is by Katherine J. Butler. It has a flexible linen-textured cover and is a small compact size. There are several topics listed in the table of contents:

Topics are easy to navigate because they are in alphabetical order in the book. The topic sections include a short encouraging paragraph and several scriptures in the New Living Translation. Occasionally, you come across a scripture in an enlarged and elegant font. There are 500 Biblical promises in this book!

I really like this! It is a quick reference for encouraging scriptures. Read it from start to finish or look up applicable topics as you need them! It would fit in purses for something to keep with you while you are on the go. It would be a great gift for someone who is new to scriptures or for someone who needs some encouragement. I would highly recommend this book.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Tyndale House provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Bible Promises to Live By for Women, Special edition
By Katherine J. Butler / Tyndale Houselgsquare

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Threads Of Suspicion

This book by: Dee Henderson is the second book in the Evie Blackwell Cold Case series. Evie is on the Missing Person’s Task Force along with several other capable team members. She is paired with David Marshal to work on two unrelated cases in Chicago. Evie is investigating the disappearance of a popular college student and David is investigating a missing private investigator. As they pursue the leads in each of their cases, it becomes clear that there is more to the cases than they had originally anticipated…including some personal ties. The search for truth is their top priority. Evie also has to deal with some personal issues that cannot take a back burner any longer. With the help of her new friend of David, she starts to come to terms with where her personal life is headed.

Dee Henderson books have always been among my favorites. They include mystery, suspense, romance, and spiritual truths. This one did not disappoint. Although the second in the series, I was able to read without having previously read the first book in the series. As always, Henderson incorporates several characters known from other books she has written. I love how Henderson does this because it is fun to learn what former characters are doing in the present time-frame of her stories. Although some suspense, I thought that this book focused more on the personal side of the characters than it did of the solving crime aspect. I admit, I was a little disappointed in how some of the character relationships played out. I am hoping that future books in the series might expand on those relationships so that their story resolves in a way that makes more sense. Anyone who likes suspense, romance, and spiritual conversation and reflection would like this book (as well as any book that Dee Henderson has written).

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Bethany House provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Threads of Suspicion #2

By Dee Henderson / Bethany House

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Princess Prayers

This book is written by: Crystal Bowman and inspired by: Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson with pictures by: Omar Aranda. It is a board book marketed towards young girls. Each two page spread includes a prayer, scripture verse, and beautiful illustration based on The Princess Parables series. There are a total of fifteen prayers in the book.

I have always loved The Princess Parables series. My girls have enjoyed reading them over the years. Generally speaking, the series is geared towards preschool & early elementary aged girls. This book is no different but my eight year old daughter still reads the books in the series every once in awhile. This book is perfect for teaching young girls simple prayers. It could be read all at once, as a daily devotional, or as a certain topic is needed. It could could be an adorable gift for the little girls in your life!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that ZonderKidsprovided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Princess Prayers
By Jeanna Young, Jacqueline Kinney Johnson & Omar Aranda (Illustrator) / ZonderKidz

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Tranquility: A Prayer and Reflection Coloring Journal

This book is published by Tyndale and is in their Living Expressions Collection. It is hardback and has over 100 pages. Each two page spread has different themes. Throughout the book there are prayers, scripture, writing prompts, journaling lines, and designs for coloring. There are pops of color on almost every page. Scripture quotes are from the New Living Translation (NLT).

I already have the Gratitude Coloring Journal from the same series so I was excited to have the opportunity to review this book as well. I also have a couple of adult coloring books that sit in a basket by my bed for when I have some free time (not very often). I usually find the coloring pages relaxing but difficult to finish in a timely manor due to size or detailed design. Like the Gratitude Coloring Journal, this book is a smaller journal size and the pages could easily be colored in a short amount of time. Some coloring pages are simplistic and others are more detailed. There are several already colored pages as well. This book will be a good addition to a daily devotional time. Each of the two page spreads coordinate with the tranquility, prayer, and reflection themes. It would also be perfect for gifts (I have bought over 10 of the Gratitude Coloring Journals for gifts and plan to buy several of these as well)!!!

Here are some photos of a few of my favorite two page spreads in the journal:

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You can see several coloring and journaling ideas on the Tyndale Living Expressions Collection Pinterest Board!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Tyndale provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Tranquility: A Prayer and Reflection Coloring Journal
By Tyndale Momentum

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Heart Treasures Boutique

Throughout the years, I have pursued several home business opportunities. My favorite by far has been my own Heart Treasures Boutique. I enjoy crafting and my boutique gives me a creative outlet that I can share with others. When I lived in Okinawa, Japan I started doing craft fairs on the military base we were stationed at. I made a lot of Diaper Cakes, Baby Quilts, and a few other things. For a year or two, I was the go to person that people ordered Diaper Cakes from! When I lived in Minot, North Dakota, I continued to do to craft fairs. I still made Diaper Cakes but also added Hair Bows and Bow Holders. It was in North Dakota that I established my the business name of “Heart Treasures Boutique.” I already had this blog which is “Heart Treasures” and you know (if you have been following me for awhile) that “Heart Treasures” comes from the Bible verse: Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I thought that the same theme could be applicable for my business as well and a reminder that everything I do should be to please the Lord.

In the past four + years of living in New Mexico, I never really pursued my boutique business. The craft fairs that I heard of were way too expensive for me to have a table at and I could not really find an interest in the Diaper Cakes and Hair Bows like I had in other locations. I still kept all of my supplies and made gifts on occasion for people.

One thing that is popular here is vendor shops. There are several shops in town where vendors rent a small space inside a larger shop and put their inventory items in that space. This past March, my dad and niece came to visit and I took them to one of my favorite vendor shops (Main Street Crafter’s Mall) that also has an awesome sandwich shop (The Lunch Box). We were walking through the store after lunch and I came across an empty space that was available for rent. I talked to the staff and decided that day that I was going to start renting that space! It was a spur of the moment decision for sure!

My dad helped me build a shelving unit to put in the space while he was in town!

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After my dad and niece left, I started working on the booth more. I loved the black but painted the trim to lighten it up a bit. I also pulled out my racks and hooks from storage and installed them in the booth.

When my new sign arrived, I was so excited!

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It took me a few weeks to get inventory in place. I worked hard making bows and bow holders, sewing blankets and burp cloths (new additions to my business), and collecting items and books from around the house that have been waiting for a purpose (most of the books are brand new!). I am continually working on new items to add to the inventory. I also rearranged the booth several times before I was satisfied with the set up!

These are the latest photos I took of my booth!

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I am so excited to see how this endeavor plays out. It is a dream in the future to have a store front gift shop (after we retire from the military and intend to live in the same place for longer than a few years). This is a small step towards that dream. It is nice to have everything that stays in one location! That is much easier than carting everything to and from a craft fair!

If you are interested, I would love for you to like and share my business Facebook page:

Heart Treasures Boutique

If you live in the Clovis, New Mexico area, stop by the Main Street Crafter’s Mall! Check out my booth as well as the other great booths (as well as booths available for rent)!

A Note Yet Unsung

This book by Tamera Alexander is the third installment in her Belmont Mansion series. Rebekah Carringtion returns home to Nashville, Tennessee after a ten year stay in Vienna. As a master violinist, she desires to be in an orchestra even though it is rare for women to be allowed in orchestras no matter what their skill. Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is the new orchestra leader of the Nashville Philharmonic. He is tasked with composing his symphony and training his orchestra before opening day of the new opera hall. His time is split with his rigorous responsibilities and returning to his childhood home to care for his dying father; all while dealing with recurring headaches, buzzing, and dizziness. Even though he recognizes her skill and talent, Tait turns down Rebekah’s request to be in the orchestra due to public opinion. Rebekah takes a job tutoring Adelicia Cheatham’s daughter at the Belmont Mansion and secures room and board there. As Tait’s deadline gets closer, he asks Rebekah to assist him with his symphony.

This is the first book that I have read by this author and I am impressed and anxious to read more from her! I absolutely loved this book! Being that it was the third book in the series, I do not know what connections the storyline and characters have to the previous books. Even so, I easily read it as a stand alone book. I loved the musical content of the book. I have always loved music even though I am not at all talented when it comes to instruments! The author provides a link so that readers can look up and listen to all of the music numbers mentioned in the book. There is some adult content worth mentioning… Rebekah’s stepfather tried to rape her when she was younger which is why she was sent away to Vienna. When she returns, he repeatedly refers to the incident and eventually attempts to do it again. There are mentions of drinking and making moonshine, murder, slaves, and a few other things that may offend some people. The Christian content of trusting God, praying, scripture, etc. was strong throughout the story. It flowed well with the story. I feel that this book was very well written and I will be purchasing the previous two books in the series so that I can read them as well! I recommend it to anyone who loves music, instruments, and historical romance!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Bethany House provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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A Note Yet Unsung #3
By Tamera Alexander / Bethany House

206230: A Beauty So Rare #2

A Beauty So Rare #2

By Tamera Alexander / Bethany House

206221: A Lasting Impression #1

A Lasting Impression #1

By Tamera Alexander / Bethany House

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Once Upon A Time Storybook Bible

This book is illustrated by Omar Aranda and published by ZonderKids. The book is approximately 8 x 10 inches which is similar to other hardback illustrated children’s books. Comprised of 33 popular Bible stories, there are 18 stories from the Old Testament and 15 stories from the New Testament. Each story has a title, scripture verse (taken from the New International Version (NIV), vibrant illustrations, “Once Upon A Time…” paraphrased story, and a “Happily Ever After” word of wisdom and story scripture reference.

On the front cover, it states, “The Bible is not a fairy tale. Every great story happened once upon a time.” An example of a “Happily Ever After” section in the Queen Esther story states, “Esther was brave to face Haman and the king. God gave her the courage she needed to save her people. He makes all of us brave when we need to be.” In the Darkest Day story about Jesus dying on the cross it states, “Jesus gave his life to save the world. He died so that one day, you could join him in heaven. Tell him thank you for his sacrifice.” I love the colorful illustrations of this book. The stories are written simplistically for a preschool and early elementary audience. This book will definitely appeal to young children and would make a great gift!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that ZonderKids provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Once Upon a Time Storybook Bible
By ZonderKidz

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