On this day 78 years ago, an elderly German couple living in the shattered remains of Berlin turned on the radio. This was Klaus and Paula Bonhoeffer, the parents of pastor, theologian, and resistance leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Because lines of communication had been devastated by the war, the first Klaus and Paula heard of their son’s death was his memorial service in London, organized by his good friend Bishop George Bell and broadcast over the BBC.
In the words of my former colleague Eric Metaxas,
As the couple took in the hard news that the good man who was their son was now dead, so too, many English took in the hard news that the dead man who was a German was good.
Bonhoeffer’s faithfulness was a reminder to the world that, even in the face of radical evil, faithfulness to Christ is possible. As Bishop Bell would put it, “He represents both the resistance of the believing soul, in the name of God, to the assault of evil, and also the moral and political revolt of the human conscience against injustice and cruelty.”
Correction: Commentary originally stated “75 years ago” when it should have been 78.
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