But if Bonhoeffer was justified in his actions, then what about the abortion bombers? This question is not a theoretical one. In light of the recent Colorado shooting near a Planned Parenthood clinic, the question is being asked again. If what Bonhoeffer did was justified, then why should we not seek to eradicate America - even through violence - from the scourge of abortion?
In today's Briefing podcast, Albert Mohler offers the following analysis:
Historically informed Christians, understanding the horrors of the 20th century will often ask the question, what about Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Bonhoeffer joined the resistance against the Nazi regime before and after the outbreak of World War II and he eventually was executed by the Nazis in the very final days of that war. In the in stage of his work for the resistance he actually joined a plot and became complicit in an effort to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Too often the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is simply cited as an obvious example that we are to follow in contemporary situations, but that falls apart upon a closer analysis. First of all, it falls apart on a closer analysis of Bonhoeffer himself. Bonhoeffer joined the resistance, he only moved to advocating and becoming complicit in violence after every other remedy had been tried and after he come to the conclusion that the entire German government, the entire Nazi regime was beyond any kind of legal or political remedy. Even then, Bonhoeffer was not convinced that what he and others had planned in terms of the killing of Adolf Hitler was ethically justified, but he claimed a justification in terms of the example of Martin Luther in terms of Christian history in that a bias towards action should guide the Christian rather than towards inaction when something urgent and important is at stake. But in this case, Dietrich Bonhoeffer complicity in the plot against Adolf Hitler not only left him with a deeply conflicted Christian conscience, but it was also premised upon his conclusion that there was no other means of remedy. The Nazis were in complete control of the government, the courts were completely corrupt, the system of laws and the entire government was under the totalitarian control of the Nazi regime. Just at that stage of analysis we are clearly in a fundamentally different situation in the United States of America.
Conservative Christians have every reason to be concerned about many trajectories and trends in this culture, and that includes trends in politics, in the law and coming from our courts. But we are certainly not in the position of stating that the regime itself is beyond remedy. Our situation is fundamentally different; we have recourse to the courts, we have recourse to elections, we have recourse to laws, we have recourse to political advocacy, we have recourse to moral argument. Christians have every right and furthermore every responsibility to be on the front lines of the cause of defending the sanctity and dignity of human life. We have every reason to be deeply involved, even urgently involved in pro-life activities, activities of counseling women who might be considering abortion, activities such as being involved in making the moral argument for the sanctity of human life, activities such as in every arena of our life being advocates for life under every situation as God’s gift. Bonhoeffer was right to point to Luther as arguing that the Christian should have a bias to action, but in our case that bias to action should be action of advocacy and witness for the dignity and sanctity of human life. And that same mission and responsibility for the advocacy for human life means that we speak up even for the human lives of those who are in the abortion clinics who are not unborn, but born.
As the media have rightly reported, we’re going to have to wait to have a fuller understanding of this individual and his motivations. In the meantime, we must be praying for the families of these three victims, recognizing the horrifying parallel that all three of the shooting victims leave two young children. The sanctity of human life means that four of those children deserve to have a father living and two deserve to have a mother living. Those lives snuffed out by the shooter in Friday’s attack. This much we know, the headlines coming out of Colorado Springs have been absolutely horrifying and we also know this, nothing we can learn about the motivation of this shooter will make that reality any less horrifying.
"Bonhoeffer - Student Edition" by Eric Metaxas: A Review
"Bonhoeffer" by Eric Metaxas: A Review
"The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Review
Bonhoeffer: Don't Try to Make the Bible Relevant
Metaxas and Piper on Bonhoeffer
Promoting Bonhoeffer: Eric Metaxas on the Glenn Beck Show