Almost 90 years ago, one young man began to go “Against the Wind.” He is an example and inspiration to us today as we feel the winds of progressivism, raw power, and relativism pushing against the truth and grace of the Gospel. This man was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The more you read about him the more you will see haunting parallels to our time and context! Here’s a quick look at his story.

Hitler rose to power, becoming chancellor of Germany in January 1933. His anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions intensified and his grab for power became absolute. He did face opposition from some courageous men: including theologian Karl Barth, pastor Martin Niemoller, and the young Bonhoeffer. Together with other pastors and theologians, they organized the Confessing Church, which announced publicly in its Barmen Declaration (1934) its allegiance to Jesus Christ and scripture: “We repudiate the false teaching that the church can and must recognize other powers, personalities and truths as divine revelation alongside this one Word of God. … ” The “Reich Church” ultimately replaced the Bible with Mein Kampf, and the Cross with a swastika.

Bonhoeffer stood solidly on the scripture, and set his sails to raise up true disciples, despite the headwinds.  He wrote The Cost of Discipleship, a call to more faithful and radical obedience to Christ and a severe rebuke of comfortable Christianity: “Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” This was a direct rebuke to the diluted and apostate official church.

Bonhoeffer also organized and taught pastors in an underground seminary, (the government had banned him from teaching openly). But after the seminary was discovered and closed, the Confessing Church became increasingly reluctant to speak out against Hitler, and moral opposition proved increasingly ineffective, so Bonhoeffer changed his strategy. To this point he had tried to resist the tide through moral persuasion,  but now he actively joined the opposition to unseat Hitler. For this he was hanged in 1944 at the age of 39.

You will be able to purchase a copy of The Cost of Discipleship at the COMMIT conference.

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