“It is Satan, not God, who has been urging you to become a coward in the raging battle between good and evil, and to leave what should be your duty all up to God.” - Robert Welch, 1972 (Founder of The John Birch Society in 1958)
THE STRUGGLE FOR THE SOUL OF A NATION
In the two millennia from Jesus the Messiah’s founding of His Earthly Church upon the ROCK of His teachings and His love for a world of sinful people—i.e. upon HIMSELF, the battle between good and evil—the perpetual war waged by Satan and his willing followers against the people of God—against all things godly—spiritual—patriotic—and honorable, has never ceased. From the day that the Great Deceiver tried to “tempt” our Savior, the Second Person of the Godhead, into “worshipping him” by offering Him the whole world, until this very time, when the worship of our one and only Triune God is being PURPOSELY diminished and ridiculed, and the freedoms once guaranteed to Americans by a Constitution codified by the blood and sacrifices of brave men and women of our past are being rapidly stolen from us by those same “willing followers” of Satan that have plagued Christian and moral and decent and freedom loving people since the Pharisees of ancient Jerusalem took to the streets like a horde of screaming “AntiFa” banshees, crying “crucify Him—crucify Him”, that struggle between good and evil for the “soul” of our nation has never abated.
Sadly, all too often those screams of hatred and violence have resulted in the Church of Jesus Christ retreating, compromising with evil, and becoming a willing accomplice in the persecution of their fellow believers. We see evidences of that “persecution” all around us today, as once strong Christian morality, strong belief in God’s Word, and strong belief in our no longer honored constitutional liberties are attacked as “old fashioned”, as “out of touch with modern thinking”, as “racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic”, etc. etc. ad nauseam. We see increasing compromise with leftist ideologies and the blending of the despicable “woke” social gospel with historic Judeo-Christian doctrines, aided and abetted by timid or unbelieving pastors, ministers, priests, and rabbis who seem more determined to engage in popularity contests among the leftist progressive throng than in proclaiming the eternal truths found in Scripture.
GERMAN CHRISTIANS COMPROMISE WITH EVIL
There was a time, during the turmoil caused by left wing collectivist evil during the last century, when these same scurrilous attacks on God’s Church and on Christian mores began to be propagated, attacks that, for many reasons, were tolerated by far too many of God’s people and by the churches and the church leaders of the “Christian country” in which they put their trust. That country, of course, was Germany of the 1930’s, and the German National (Lutheran) Church, bequeathed to that ostensibly Christian country by Martin Luther, seemed solid as a rock. But it wasn’t. Rather than keeping their eyes on Jesus the Messiah, they began to look to the “state” for guidance as an entity in which to put their “faith”. Far too many of Germany’s “Christian” churches began to compromise with the Nazi Party and with its leader, the anti-God monster known as Adolph Hitler, who in the early 1930’s assured those churches and their leaders in personal meetings with them, that he was “their friend”, that they had “nothing to fear” from his movement, that their religious freedoms “would not be violated”, that the tax exempt status of the German churches “would not be eliminated”, and that his Nazi government had “no intention of interfering in their private lives”. They should have “smelled a rat”, and eventually many of them did. But by then it was too late, and the evil one had his talons in churches that claimed to “love Christ”.
Either out of fear of reprisals or because their supposed leaders bought into the Nazi’s racial superiority fanaticism and their hatred of all “inferior” and non-Aryan people, and their teaching of the “inevitable” German superiority over all of Europe, INCLUDING its disgusting persecution of Jews, gypsies, and other “undesirables” (a stain of SHAME upon the German churches at the time), a large segment of Germany’s erstwhile Christian congregations became official mouthpieces for Hitler and his goons of the Nazi Party. Many “Christian” churches took down their crosses and religious material and pictures from inside their sanctuaries, and replaced them with the twisted cross of the Nazi flag and the eagles and trappings of Nazi militarism. But there were some German churches, and a few truly brave German pastors, who stood firm for God’s Word and resisted as best they could the evil pressures coming from Satan’s Nazi followers and the racist hatred they were propagating, and formed what they called “The Confessing Church” in 1934.
THE “CONFESSING CHURCH” TAKES A STAND AGAINST NAZI INTIMIDATION
The new Confessing Church in Germany did take a somewhat more firm stand against other German “Christian” churches that had willingly become “Nazified”, but even its leaders, for the most part, avoided overly harsh criticism of the Hitler regime, and with only a few exceptions did NOT speak out strongly against the persecution of Germany’s Jewish population. There were two German pastors, in particular, who risked much, including their freedom and their lives, to stand against the “wiles of Satan” coming from the mouth of that megalomaniac, Hitler. Their names were Martin Neimoller (1892-1984), and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945). There were others, I’m sure, but these two have stood out in the annals of resistance to tyranny. Their “theology” may have been considered controversial to some other Christians in the world (and in Neimoller’s case it DID become very controversial later in his life), but their determination to “Obey God and Resist Tyranny” proved their “mettle” and put to shame others in the Christian world of that time who, to their embarrassment, looked the other way while unspeakable barbarianism was being perpetrated on their fellow human beings! To our everlasting SHAME, the government of the U.S. did NOTHING to stop the persecution of the Jewish population of Europe, claiming later that it “did not know” how the Nazis were persecuting what they referred to as the “undesirable” population in Germany. Anti-Semitism reigned supreme throughout much of the U.S. in those days. The disgusting lying rag called “The New York Times” for many years was the OFFICIAL MOUTHPIECE OF THE “DEEP STATE” in the 1930’s (a position of DISHONOR that it still holds), as the treacherous globalists of The Council on Foreign Relations were even then arranging for another world war to further their nefarious plans of pushing for a “world government”, and the problems of Europe’s Jews be damned. As Mark Levin has ably proved in one of his books, the New York Times did all it could to COVER UP—TO DENY—the atrocities being committed by Hitler and his fellow leftist Nazis, including reporting total LIES to its readers in the U.S.!
BONHOEFFER TAKES A STAND AGAINST NAZISM
In 1935 Bonhoeffer published an essay: The Church and the Jewish Question. In that essay he discussed the many challenges that were confronting Christ’s Church under Nazism. In it he boldly proclaimed that “National Socialism” (Nazism) was “an illegitimate form of government and hence had to be opposed on Christian grounds.” He summarized three stages of this opposition:
- “First, the church was called to question state injustice;
- “Second, it had an obligation to help all victims of injustice whether they were Christians or not;
- “Finally, the Church might be called to ‘put a spoke in the wheel’ to bring the machinery of injustice to a halt.”
This was Bonhoeffer’s earliest public repudiation of National Socialism and exposed his opposition to the collectivist Nazi regime. Unfortunately, in his essay Bonhoeffer reiterated the traditional German anti-Semitism that been proclaimed as “truth” for many centuries throughout Europe, and he argued that the “Jewish Question” that had afflicted Europe far into its past could only be “resolved” when all Jews were converted to Christianity. Unfortunately, he took the “easier” way out of the “German dilemma” in this essay, and he maintained this view for the rest of his life. But this was enough for him to be viewed unfavorably by the Nazi Party and increasingly by the German Church who were trying to save their skins by compromising with the Nazi beasts.
Most knowledgeable people know the famous quote from Martin Neimoller, ca. 1946 (in several different iterations):
“First they came for the Jews, but I did nothing because I’m not a Jew. Then they came for the socialists, but I did nothing because I’m not a socialist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I did nothing because I’m not a Catholic. Finally, they came for me, but by then there was no one left to help me.”
But many people, especially Americans, are not at all familiar with some of Bonhoeffer’s quotes:
- “Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to life which God has bestowed upon this nascent life.”
- “If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I MUST try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”
- Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.”
- “Your life as a Christian should make non-believers question their disbelief in God.”
- “The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rends cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and His Word until the end.”
- And finally: “The devil doesn’t fill us with hatred for God, but with forgetfulness of God!”
Pastor Bonhoeffer surely was prescient, and could have been speaking about 21st century America. Both of these pastors suffered persecution and imprisonment by the Nazi devils in concentration camps, and Neimoller barely survived until the end of the war. Bonhoeffer, most of us know, did not survive, but was cruelly tortured and brutally executed just before the end of the war. So it is Bonhoeffer upon whom I’ll focus the rest of this article, for despite his “feet of clay”, a trait he shared with most of humanity, he was such an admirable man, as well as a staunch Christian, that an examination of his courageous life should be an example to all of us.
For two years in 1930 to 1931, he came to New York City and studied theology at Union Theological Seminary, at a time of great and serious debate between the liberal and fundamental factions of the Evangelical church in America. At UTS, Bonhoeffer discovered he was in the virtual CENTER of theological liberalism. He left in 1931, disgusted, writing that “he was not impressed” (with UTS). “There is NO theology there”, he proclaimed. (How correct he was!).
In the mid-1930’s he served as a pastor for several German-speaking churches in London, convincing them to break away from the official German church and unite with the Confessing Church. But by early 1935 he had returned to Germany where that Confessing Church was coming under increased scrutiny and pressure from the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police that Hitler used to terrorize and intimidate his opposition. It’s sad to admit, but most of the German church leaders refused to openly oppose Hitler and his Nazis, and they even criticized Christians who did. This resulted in the members of the Confessing Church becoming constantly embattled on all sides.
In the mid-1930’s, Bonhoeffer and others opened an illegal seminary for the Confessing Church, to train young men into the clergy. The Gestapo closed down this seminary in late 1937. So he bravely spent the next two years traveling throughout eastern Germany to supervise his clergy students, most of who by that time were serving illegally in small parishes. In retaliation, the Gestapo banned Bonhoeffer from Berlin early in 1938 and then issued an order forbidding him from all public speaking in September of 1940.
BONHOEFFER JOINS THE RESISTANCE AND SEALS HIS FATE
In 1939, he returned to New York City. His supporters wanted him to stay there in safety and sit out the war, as other German theologians did. But it has been reported that as soon as he left the ship there in New York harbor, he realized that he didn’t really belong there. How could he, he asked himself, play some kind of role in the rebuilding of the German Church after the war if he abandoned it during its darkest hours? It took Bonhoeffer one month to get passage on a ship and return to Germany, thus sealing his destiny. Sometime in 1938, Bonhoeffer had become aware of the anti-Nazi Resistance Movement through information provided by his brother-in-law, Han von Dohnanhyi, who was employed in the German Justice Ministry and who was one of the very earliest opponents of the Nazi regime. Dohnanhyi, through his connections, helped Bonhoeffer avoid being forced to join the German military, and got a job for him in the Office of Military Intelligence, led by Admiral Wilheim Canaris, a brave German patriot who became one of the founders of a resistance group that tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944 (Operation Valkyrie). Using the freedom provided by being a member of German Military Intelligence, between 1941 and 1942 Bonhoeffer made several trips to Geneva, Switzerland and to the Vatican in Rome to alert various church and civil leaders of the plans of the German Resistance.
In October of 1941 the Nazis began to deport Jews from Berlin to concentration/death camps to the east. Bonhoeffer and Friedrich Perels, a Confessing Church attorney, wrote a detailed report about these deportations and sent it to both contacts outside of Germany and to what they hoped were German military officials they could trust, persuading them to take action against Nazi atrocities. Unwilling to stand aside and do nothing, Bonhoeffer involved himself in “Operation Seven”, an anti-Nazi plan to try to get Jews out of Germany by providing them false papers as foreign agents. But the Gestapo eventually uncovered the “Op 7” money that had been sent abroad to be used by the Jewish emigrants, and both Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, his brother-in-law, were arrested in April of 1943. Neither would see the light of freedom again.
BONHOEFFER TORTURED AND EXECUTED BY SATAN’S MINIONS, STANDING FOR “RESISTANCE TO TYRANNY AS OBEDIANCE TO GOD”
Bonhoeffer was initially charged with “conspiring to rescue Jews”, “using his foreign travels for non-intelligence matters”, and “misusing his intelligence position to help Confessing Church pastors evade military service”. After the failed attempt by brave German patriots in and out of the military (Operation Valkyrie) to assassinate Hitler in July, 1944 (in which Bonhoeffer was not directly involved), his connections to broader circles of the “Resistance” were uncovered, and he was moved to the grim Gestapo prison in Berlin. In February, 1945 he was moved (after periods of torture) to Buchenwald concentration camp and then moved again to Flossenburg concentration camp where he was tortured and executed just two weeks before the end of the war.
The actual reports of Bonhoeffer’s execution don’t all agree. We know that anti-Nazi resistors who were imprisoned were tortured without mercy, all the more so if they were deemed to be “Jewish sympathizers”. We know that most of these brave people suffered agonizing deaths, some protracted over days or hours. We know that in some of the Nazi death camps, a condemned person was “choke hanged”, and just before he/she died, they were taken down and revived, if possible, by special “doctors”, allowed to regain some strength, and then HANGED AGAIN to prolong the agony. The following account of Bonhoeffer’s execution comes from “liquisearch.com” and their source appears to be Wikipedia. I can find no date or attribution for this, but here is their recounting of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s death:
“Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on April 6, 1945 by a Nazi SS judge, Otto Thorbeck, in a drumhead court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defense in Flossenburg concentration camp. He was executed there by hanging at dawn on April 9, 1945, just two weeks before soldiers from the U.S. 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions liberated the camp, three weeks before the Soviet capture of Berlin and a month before the capitulation of Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard, where he was hanged, along with fellow conspirators, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris,…(including several more who were condemned along with Bonhoeffer).
Here is another account of Bonhoeffer’s last days, written by Stephen J. Nichols, PHD, in his book, Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life:
“On February 7, 1945, the day after he turned 39, he was transferred from his cellar prison in Berlin (the Gestapo prison) to Buchenwald, then to Regensburg, and then, on April 8, to Flossenburg (all Nazi concentration/death camps). He was not alone, joined by other political prisoners. He would preach sermons to them while they were in the back of military trucks, chained and jostling around. He would preach in the barracks as they lay on their cots and as they gathered around this thoughtful, soft-spoken academic theologian in his wire-rimmed spectacles. At the break of dawn on April 9, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged. As they prepared him for his death, he preached a final sermon. His words were remembered and later retold, by a captured RAF pilot: “This is for me the end, the beginning of life.”
And for this brave and faithful servant of God, so it was!