Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Several people have noted that today is the one hundred and fifth birthday of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His is an open ended legacy due to the sad fact that executed by the Nazis for participating in a plot against Hitler. We will never know how his concept of a “religionless Christianity” would have evolved. We will never know how great a contribution he may have given Christianity as a whole.

One day I was discussing this with Jeff Garner. He made an interesting observation: It may be that it was his martyrdom that became his legacy. When Bonhoeffer wrote that the call of Christ is a bid to come a die there was no better way to live out that call for discipleship than to actually die. If he had not died following Christ as he knew how it would have remained a metaphor at best. Bonhoeffer may have contributed elsewhere, but not as much here.

What do you think? Is Bonhoeffer’s death an essential part of his legacy? Can we even go as far as saying it is his legacy? Or do you think it was a tragedy that robbed us of something greater?

See also:

– Rodney Thomas’ review of Bonhoeffer’s Ethics (here) and his brief reflection on Bonhoeffer’s birthday (here).

– Billy Cash writes on “a dangerous life of costly grace” in tribute to Bonhoeffer (here).

– Joel Watts shares a video of Eric Metaxes discussing Bonhoeffer (here).