Dietrich Bonhoeffer, addressing the World Alliance, an ecumenical group, on the situation of the world in 1932, the cusp of the rise of Nazi Germany (a rise which would lead to his own execution) asked “Why is the… Church of Christ, as it appears in the World Alliance, afraid?” In response, he uttered these powerful words to the whole Christian church:
Because it [the church] knows there is a commandment to peace, and yet with the clear vision that is given to the church, sees the reality that is full of hate, enmity, violence. It is as if all the powers on earth had conspired together against peace, as if money, the economy, the drive to power, even the love of one’s fatherland have been dragged into the service of hate…
How could it be anything but blasphemous mindlessness, if we were to declare ‘No more war!’ and think with that, and a new organization–even a Christian one–we could exorcise the devil? Such organizations are nothing, no more than a house of cards that the whirlwind blows away… Even our well-meaning good will amounts to nothing…
Christ must be present among us in preaching and sacrament, the Crucified One who made peace between God and humankind. The Crucified One is our peace. (DBW 11, 354-355, cited in Schlingensiepen, cited below)
Let us not be motivated by fear, money, the economy, drive to power, or patriotism. Let us not utter the blasphemy that if we humans could just do it all, we would be saved. Be not afraid, church of Christ. The Crucified One is present among us.
Ferdinand Schlingensiepen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance (New York: Continuum, 2010).
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