Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Ground of Unfathomable Love

“God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility… this is for God the ground of unfathomable love.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who was Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an anti-Nazi theologian and pastor during World War II. Best remembered for authoring the Christian classics The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, Bonhoeffer was born in 1906 in Germany and began his journey in church leadership during the rise of the Nazi regime.

Although Bonhoeffer did not grow up in a particularly religious home, he announced his plans to join the church when he was just fourteen.  After obtaining his doctorate in theology and working in churches abroad, Bonhoeffer became a priest and lecturer in Berlin at the age of twenty-five. 

Hitler’s rise to power just two years later marked a turning point in Bonhoeffer’s career. Despite the mounting cost, Bonhoeffer spoke out against the Führer’s influence. Frustrated by the unwillingness of church leaders to oppose Hitler’s anti-Semitism, Bonhoeffer created the Confessing Church, alongside Martin Niemoller and Karl Barth. Eventually forbidden to teach publicly and forced underground, Bonhoeffer taught seminary students for several years until even the Confessing Church grew reluctant to contradict Nazi leadership. Having lost this opportunity, Bonhoeffer briefly sought asylum in the United States but, after concluding that it was wrong to abandon his friends, returned to Nazi Germany. 

Formerly a pacifist, Dietrich Bonhoeffer became persuaded of the need for violence against the Nazi regime and joined a group called the Abwehr, whose primary mission was to assassinate Hitler.  Ultimately, Bonhoeffer was arrested for his involvement in helping Jews flee the country. Still, he continued to teach with the help of guards who smuggled out his writing, until he was transferred to a concentration camp. When his association with other Abwehr agents was discovered, Bonhoeffer was sentenced to death. He was hanged in April 1945, just one month before Germany surrendered.  

More than seventy years after his death, his life and writings serve as a touchstone for all of us who seek to understand a Christian’s responsibility in the face of injustice — and as an encouragement to serve no matter how great the cost.

Who was Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Courtesy of
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22 thoughts on “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Ground of Unfathomable Love

  1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a great man of God, loyal to His Lord and Saviour no matter the cost to him personally. He is a candle in our dark times, showing us that despite world affairs the Love of a Holy God is the only thing that matters. Thank you for reminding us of this, God bless you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree. I thought that was strange too. I imagine it wasn’t easy for him and the others to see the carnage and violence under Hitler’s regime and they wanted it to be over. I’m sure they thought they were doing the right thing at the time, but my guess is that he would not defend or advocate that behavior if he had the chance to speak about it today. I haven’t read his biography, maybe they go into it there. And perhaps he realized the error of his way before his death. Even great men and women of God can do the wrong thing. We certainly see that in David’s life, yet God called him a man after his own heart. I find that very comforting. Thanks for stopping by! God bless.


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