Tag Archives: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Be Overcome or Be An Overcomer . . . Your Choice


“Do not repay anyone evil for evil . . . Don’t be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12

I’ve been wrestling with how to respond to Charlottesville and especially to the alt-right event in my city (San Francisco) this weekend. The easy thing would be to be overcome by the evil demon of hatred for the lunatics that wave confederate flags, don riot gear, and carry weapons and shouting “Jews won’t replace us!” That’s what my lower nature wants to do, repay hate with hate, even though Jesus prohibits it. That’s the definition letting evil overcome me, i.e. come over me, seep inside me and ruin me.

Jesus said labeling people “raca” gets us into trouble with God and with one another (Matthew 5). It’s an Aramaic word that is probably best translated “empty” or “worthless.” Jon Carlson said, “When we insist that others are ‘raca,’ that others are empty and worthless because they’ve given themselves over to evil, we don’t defeat their evil. We actually endanger ourselves, feeding into the very destructive tendencies we wish to overthrow.” That’s what it means to be “overcome by evil,” when we take on their evil by hating them with the same hate with which they hate us. Continue reading


What Would Bonhoeffer Do?


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Most Christians consider pastor, theologian, activist, and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to have been a great man. He spent two years in prison for joining the plot to assassinate the Führer and was executed by the Nazi regime at the Flossenbürg concentration camp on April 9, 1945, just two weeks before the United States liberated the camp.

His resolute conviction was that…

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

In 1934 a group of German church leaders saw the disaster brewing and developed the “Theological Declaration of Barmen” to warn Christians to withstand the challenges of the Nazi party and the theological accommodations that the German Church accepted from the regime. In the declaration they rebuked the so-called “German Christians,” a popular movement that saw no conflict between Christianity and the ideals of Hitler’s National Socialism. Continue reading

The Subversive’s Seldom Sung Song


note1Without cheating by scrolling down name this song let’s see how quickly you can identify this famous piece of poetry by only using this list of clues:

  • The song was written by a famous female
  • She is not commonly thought of as a songwriter or poet
  • 17th Century Japanese Christians quietly sang the words of the song as fellow Christians were being burnt at the stake.
  • During the British colonial rule of India, it was forbidden to sing this song in churches.
  • In the 1930s Franco banned it throughout Mexico.
  • The junta in Argentina forbade the song after the Mothers of the Disappeared displayed its words on placards in the capital plaza.
  • Gandhi requested that this song be read in all the places where the British flag was being lowered on the final day of imperial rule in India.
  • During the 1980s, the governments of Guatemala and El Salvador prohibited any public recitation of the song.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer proclaimed it as “the most passionate, the wildest, most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung.”
  • Now I’m giving it away when I reveal that it is the longest recorded set of words spoken by any woman in the New Testament. (Guessed it yet?)
  • Oh, did I mention that the songwriter was pregnant when she wrote it (at a very young age I might add)? (If that didn’t do it, the last clue will!)
  • This was the first Christmas carol ever composed!

Continue reading

A “Bonhoeffer Moment”?

“Mr. Bonhoeffer! Mr. Bonhoeffer! Excuse me, aren’t you Dietrich Bonhoeffer? I can’t tell you what an honor it is to meet you, Sir. I’m a huge fan!Bonhoeffer

“You were such a extraordinary man in your day, an example to us all. We all – all us Christians, anyway – admire your selfless devotion to God and people. Everyone who knows your story wants to be like you. Except for the hanging part! So much so that someone, none of us knows exactly who started it, coined the phrase: “Bonhoeffer Moment” to describe a pivotal period in history wherein we should stand up and make our voice heard. We hold your name with such honor that we utilize it and the reputation behind it to evoke an emotional reaction for whatever cause we’re promoting at the time. Continue reading

Some symptoms of simplicity

This is the second in the series on the theme of simplicity, which is something I’ve felt strongly about for many years. Since living simply is not a particularly popular or sought after topic in most Christian circles it’s difficult to preach, but much more difficult to practice. But I’m trying to do both.

In the introductory blog post & podcast I shared what I think simplicity is, what it isn’t, and how to get it. This time I’d like to talk about two components to simplicity: Being real and living free. In other words: Sincerity and spontaneity. As with my primer, this post is in “outline-ish” form.simplicity

If you’re looking for a little more meat on those bones, you might want to look into the Podcast by the same name: Some symptoms of simplicity.

The first thing you’ll notice about these two qualities is that they are more inward character qualities than outward characteristics. They’re not “make-up” to make ourselves look better than we really do. Instead, they’re part of our essential “make up,” the way we are. Sincerity and spontaneity are valuable and desirable inward virtues. Simplicity, as I see it, is the way Jesus is, and the way he is in us. Continue reading