Saturday, April 9, 2016

For All the Saints: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

On the Episcopal, Anglican, and ELCA calendars today, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) is honored on this anniversary of his death. He was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, a founding  member of the Confessing Church and an anti-Nazi activist who was arrested by the Gestapo in April 1943. He and other plotters to assassinate Hitler were hanged during the last weeks of the Third Reich. He wrote several books, of which The Cost of Discipleship is perhaps best known. The familiar 4-by-7, dark-green paperback, 1975 edition, came out when I was a freshman at a Christian college, a challenging first introduction to his life and work. He also wrote Act and Being, Sanctorum Communio, Life Together, the posthumous Letters and Papers from Prison, and the works. Bonhoeffer's student Eberhard Bethge did much to make Bonhoeffer known to an international audience, with a biography and editions of the theologian's works. A doctoral classmate, Charles Marsh, recently published a new biography, Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Knopf, 2014).