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Bonhoeffer on Christian Ethics

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

bonhoeffer christian ethics

Bonhoeffer on Christian Ethics

It isn’t, however, that I think there’s nothing valuable in the biography. On the contrary, the following reflection struck me:

Such people neither steal, nor murder, nor commit adultery, but do good according to their abilities. But…they must close their eyes and ears to the injustice around them. Only at the cost of self-deception can they keep their private blamelessness clean from the stains of responsible action in the world. In all that they do, what they fail to do will not let them rest. They will either be destroyed by this unrest, or they will become the most hypocritical of all Pharisees.

Knowing what little I do about Metaxas, I’m guessing he finds Bonhoeffer on Christian ethics attractive. I also suspect that here Metaxas is very much on target. Bonhoeffer was convinced that the ethic to which we are called as Christians does not allow us to isolate our ourselves from injustice around us. It simply is impossible to maintain personal righteousness while failing to redress evil that is victimizing others.

In this Bonhoeffer was surely correct. I have been guilty of precisely this kind of sin in my life. I have seen first hand how destructive it can be. From that perspective, I find quite compelling the conviction and courage that Bonhoeffer displayed in opposing the Nazis as he did. Further, I find convincing his observation about the need for believers to take action against injustice out of love for others. Surely being sufficiently concerned for others to act when they are being oppressed or destroyed is at the very heart of our calling as Christians living in this fallen world.

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