Monday, April 9, 2007

No greater love - Bonhoeffer's sacrifice

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and leader of a Christian resistance group opposing Third Reich in Nazi Germany, was executed 62 years ago today, April 9, 1945. He had been arrested and sent to a concentration camp for his organization's role in activities such as hiding Jews/helping them escape Nazi territory as well as his part in planning an assassination attempt targeting Adolf Hitler himself.

Not to trivialize his efforts and sacrifice with a cliche, but this is a case of putting your money (and ultimately life) where you mouth (and more importantly your heart)is. Bonhoeffer's values lead him to oppose the evil he perceived arising in his own country, values that were rooted in and affirmed by his Christian faith. This is not to say that humanists, Buddhists, Wiccans, etc. could not or would not do the same. Nor is it an attempt to make some balance the scales argument (i.e. there are more good things than bad done in the name of faith, though such an argument is impossible to validate anyway whatever your view on the value of faith).

Still, this is the kind of thing I think of when I hear the call of progressive Christians [Christian Alliance for Progress, The Institute for Progressive Christianity, The Center for Progressive Christianity] to be faithful to spirit of compassion for all and sacrifice exemplified by the life and death of Christ.

John 15:13
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 13:34-35
A new command I give you: "Love one another". As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Mark 12:28-31
And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

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