Saturday, February 20, 2010

Voice Crying in the Wilderness

The Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a member of the Bekennende Kirche (Confessing Church), struggled against the Nazi evil and paid with his life. The BK emerged in 1934 with the Barmen Declaration, a defiant stand against Hitler by a minority of church leaders: “the inviolable foundation of the German Evangelical Church is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is witnessed to by the Holy Scriptures and as it comes to light anew in the Confessions of the Reformation.” The Church, it also affirmed, is not “able or at liberty apart from this ministry to take to itself or to accept special F├╝hrers equipped with power to rule.” Bonhoeffer believed that the Judenfrage was the issue in the church’s hour of testing. “Only he who cries out for the Jews may sing Gregorian chant.”

The Nazis arrested Bonhoeffer as one of the conspirators in the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler. They executed him in a prison courtyard on April 9, 1945.