Bonhoeffer on abortion

The Roman Catholic bishops of Colorado have answered a comment from pro-abortion Catholic Nancy Pelosi, who said that church tradition varied on when human life begins in the womb. The bishops point out that even when it was assumed under the primitive scientific knowledge of the day that “ensoulment” began with “quickening”–when the mother can first feel the baby move–the church has always taught that ABORTION IS STILL WRONG. When the baby is considered fully human has nothing to do with the immorality of abortion! Then these Roman Catholic bishops quoted a Lutheran:

In the blunter words of the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed on this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “And that is nothing but murder.” Somewhat ironic coming from a man who himself was involved in a plot to murder. Would that he had been more consistent in his theology regarding life.

    Surely there are better people to turn to than Bonhoeffer?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “And that is nothing but murder.” Somewhat ironic coming from a man who himself was involved in a plot to murder. Would that he had been more consistent in his theology regarding life.

    Surely there are better people to turn to than Bonhoeffer?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    Never had much infatuation with Bonhoefer myself, but would hardly classify his attempt on Hitlers life as a murder plot. Nor do I see it as being inconsistent with his thoughts on abortion.
    There are however, better theologians to turn to. People like Bonhoefer though. And this quote is spot on.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    Never had much infatuation with Bonhoefer myself, but would hardly classify his attempt on Hitlers life as a murder plot. Nor do I see it as being inconsistent with his thoughts on abortion.
    There are however, better theologians to turn to. People like Bonhoefer though. And this quote is spot on.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror, you said (@2) you “would hardly classify his attempt on Hitler’s life as a murder plot”. Okay, what would you classify it as?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror, you said (@2) you “would hardly classify his attempt on Hitler’s life as a murder plot”. Okay, what would you classify it as?

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Perhaps Bonhoefer would have reasoned that he was saving lives by killing Hitler. Bonhoefer and those involved in the plot to kill Hitler saw themselves as German patriots fighting a man who was destroying their nation. I don’t condone their actions but they are understandable. None of this changes the fact that Bonhoefer was absolutely right in his oppostion to abortion or for that matter his opposition to Hitler. Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama by supporting abortion rights are morally complicit in the murder of 50,000,000 Americans. The Bishops do well in opposing this evil and I am glad that they made use of Bonhoefer to oppose Pelosi’s apologetic for a monstrous evil.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Perhaps Bonhoefer would have reasoned that he was saving lives by killing Hitler. Bonhoefer and those involved in the plot to kill Hitler saw themselves as German patriots fighting a man who was destroying their nation. I don’t condone their actions but they are understandable. None of this changes the fact that Bonhoefer was absolutely right in his oppostion to abortion or for that matter his opposition to Hitler. Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama by supporting abortion rights are morally complicit in the murder of 50,000,000 Americans. The Bishops do well in opposing this evil and I am glad that they made use of Bonhoefer to oppose Pelosi’s apologetic for a monstrous evil.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    An attempt for justifiable homicide…
    I have never thought of Bonhoefer as being a great theologian. I don’t classify him as a Martyr. Neither do I think him much Lutheran (he was a pastor of a union church, and signed the Barmen Declaration, which effectively killed off confessional Lutheranism in the state churches of Germany). However I would not call a man defending the lives of millions by trying to take the life of a murderous tyrant as a murderer. In that he did the right thing. He was executed for it, as is to be expected when you get caught trying to assisinate a head of state. But I can’t find fault with him there.
    For coining the phrase “cheap Grace” I will fault him, but not for trying to save the lives of so many.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    An attempt for justifiable homicide…
    I have never thought of Bonhoefer as being a great theologian. I don’t classify him as a Martyr. Neither do I think him much Lutheran (he was a pastor of a union church, and signed the Barmen Declaration, which effectively killed off confessional Lutheranism in the state churches of Germany). However I would not call a man defending the lives of millions by trying to take the life of a murderous tyrant as a murderer. In that he did the right thing. He was executed for it, as is to be expected when you get caught trying to assisinate a head of state. But I can’t find fault with him there.
    For coining the phrase “cheap Grace” I will fault him, but not for trying to save the lives of so many.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s just funny how quickly arguments in favor of life turn relative (it all matters who you’re murdering, I guess) and defend assassination. So someone who wanted to end the war in Iraq (or a future one in Iran) would be justified in assassinating Bush, then? If not, how does one judge when it is okay to rebel against the authorities God has instituted and murder those in power?

    To say that none of this has any bearing on his stance on abortion is technically true, but misses the point. His theology was questionable, and it showed in his actions. We tend to ignore such people, not listen to them. I never heard anyone say, “I wonder when John Wilkes Booth thought life began in the womb.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It’s just funny how quickly arguments in favor of life turn relative (it all matters who you’re murdering, I guess) and defend assassination. So someone who wanted to end the war in Iraq (or a future one in Iran) would be justified in assassinating Bush, then? If not, how does one judge when it is okay to rebel against the authorities God has instituted and murder those in power?

    To say that none of this has any bearing on his stance on abortion is technically true, but misses the point. His theology was questionable, and it showed in his actions. We tend to ignore such people, not listen to them. I never heard anyone say, “I wonder when John Wilkes Booth thought life began in the womb.”

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Are you seriously comparing Bush to Hitler?
    Are you seriously comparing the war in Iraq to the Holocaust, and World War II?
    It isn’t an argument of relativity here. There is a matter of who one is killing, and why that distinguishes murder from killing, or execution. There is a matter of just cause, and if anyone ever had it, Bonhoefer did. Maybe the Nazi’s didn’t think he did, but I for one do.
    There is no question that Bonhoefer’s theology was questionable. IT may have shown in his actions. I probably would not have abandoned my call to become a double agent, when so many needed to hear the gospel. But he did the right thing as a double agent. He was also a very popular theologian at the time, and continues to be, so people quote him and others listen. His name, possibly for all the wrong reasons has weight behind it, and here at least, he is correct. We should listen to a person when he is right, not write him off because he was wrong on another issue. We have all been wrong on an issue or two at times. Problem with Bonhoefer is that, I have a hard time reading him anymore to find where he was right. I would not have been able to quote him on abortion.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Are you seriously comparing Bush to Hitler?
    Are you seriously comparing the war in Iraq to the Holocaust, and World War II?
    It isn’t an argument of relativity here. There is a matter of who one is killing, and why that distinguishes murder from killing, or execution. There is a matter of just cause, and if anyone ever had it, Bonhoefer did. Maybe the Nazi’s didn’t think he did, but I for one do.
    There is no question that Bonhoefer’s theology was questionable. IT may have shown in his actions. I probably would not have abandoned my call to become a double agent, when so many needed to hear the gospel. But he did the right thing as a double agent. He was also a very popular theologian at the time, and continues to be, so people quote him and others listen. His name, possibly for all the wrong reasons has weight behind it, and here at least, he is correct. We should listen to a person when he is right, not write him off because he was wrong on another issue. We have all been wrong on an issue or two at times. Problem with Bonhoefer is that, I have a hard time reading him anymore to find where he was right. I would not have been able to quote him on abortion.

  • Booklover

    “We tend to ignore such people, not listen to them.” (#6)

    If we followed this reasoning, wouldn’t we have to ignore all that Solomon said, with his 1000 bed partners and all???

    Maybe we should listen to truth wherever we find it. Bonhoeffer spoke truth on the issue of embryo destruction.

  • Booklover

    “We tend to ignore such people, not listen to them.” (#6)

    If we followed this reasoning, wouldn’t we have to ignore all that Solomon said, with his 1000 bed partners and all???

    Maybe we should listen to truth wherever we find it. Bonhoeffer spoke truth on the issue of embryo destruction.

  • Bass

    While it’s easy to say that abortion is nothing but murder, it’s difficult to logically maintain that belief. For example, many pro lifers are offended by wholesale abortion on demand, yet think abortions should be legal (on demand) in instances of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. Why?
    Similarly, many pro lifers are offended by Roe v. Wade, yet think that, when that opinion is overruled, voters ought to decide whether to ban abortion. (Recall that when slavery was legal, it outraged abolitionists to hear people say that majority rule should decide a matter that they – rightly – believed was always morally wrong. Is abortion worse than slavery?)
    And what about the issue of giving someone the power to make life/death decisions for you when you’re incapacitated? If ending life is always murder, why even consider that someone should be allowed to make that decision for you? (Isn’t killing an incapacitated person the moral equivalent of aborting a fetus?)
    I am pro life, as I understand the term, but I have struggled to make sense of what that means, not just in the context of abortion, but in instances of war, the death penalty, etc. I have no easy answers.
    But I think that to be consistent one needs to go far beyond the mere slogan that abortion is always murder. If you really think that, what do we do with the murderer? In my view, no one ought to be taken seriously when they call abortion murder unless they can say what should be done (realistically) with the murderer (doctor?) and his/her accomplice (mother).
    A crime without a penalty is no crime.

  • Bass

    While it’s easy to say that abortion is nothing but murder, it’s difficult to logically maintain that belief. For example, many pro lifers are offended by wholesale abortion on demand, yet think abortions should be legal (on demand) in instances of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. Why?
    Similarly, many pro lifers are offended by Roe v. Wade, yet think that, when that opinion is overruled, voters ought to decide whether to ban abortion. (Recall that when slavery was legal, it outraged abolitionists to hear people say that majority rule should decide a matter that they – rightly – believed was always morally wrong. Is abortion worse than slavery?)
    And what about the issue of giving someone the power to make life/death decisions for you when you’re incapacitated? If ending life is always murder, why even consider that someone should be allowed to make that decision for you? (Isn’t killing an incapacitated person the moral equivalent of aborting a fetus?)
    I am pro life, as I understand the term, but I have struggled to make sense of what that means, not just in the context of abortion, but in instances of war, the death penalty, etc. I have no easy answers.
    But I think that to be consistent one needs to go far beyond the mere slogan that abortion is always murder. If you really think that, what do we do with the murderer? In my view, no one ought to be taken seriously when they call abortion murder unless they can say what should be done (realistically) with the murderer (doctor?) and his/her accomplice (mother).
    A crime without a penalty is no crime.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Bror writes: “I don’t classify him as a Martyr. Neither do I think him much Lutheran (he was a pastor of a union church, and signed the Barmen Declaration, which effectively killed off confessional Lutheranism in the state churches of Germany). ”
    Bonhoeffer would have agreed with you. He was very clear that his sufferings for his political activity was not to be classified with the sufferings of others on behalf of the Gospel. The Bonhoeffer as Martyr thing came about because of Lutherans in America and elsewhere needing to have a hero to deflect blame coming our way for the Third Reich. As a Lutheran he is no Sasse, but he is not useless. When I taught Ethics at a Lutheran Seminary in my previous church body I used Bonhoeffer’s Ethics and his Cost of Discipleship. I did not use the books uncritically, still I did not find them without value.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Bror writes: “I don’t classify him as a Martyr. Neither do I think him much Lutheran (he was a pastor of a union church, and signed the Barmen Declaration, which effectively killed off confessional Lutheranism in the state churches of Germany). ”
    Bonhoeffer would have agreed with you. He was very clear that his sufferings for his political activity was not to be classified with the sufferings of others on behalf of the Gospel. The Bonhoeffer as Martyr thing came about because of Lutherans in America and elsewhere needing to have a hero to deflect blame coming our way for the Third Reich. As a Lutheran he is no Sasse, but he is not useless. When I taught Ethics at a Lutheran Seminary in my previous church body I used Bonhoeffer’s Ethics and his Cost of Discipleship. I did not use the books uncritically, still I did not find them without value.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Bass writes: “Is abortion worse than slavery?”
    Yes, much worse.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Bass writes: “Is abortion worse than slavery?”
    Yes, much worse.

  • Bass

    Keeping someone in involuntary servitude (slavery) is a punishable offense. If abortion is much worse, how do we punish the offender? I am a confessional Lutheran, but I can no longer bear to hear Christians discuss abortion (and other life/death issues) because so many can’t get beyond the platitudes and slogans.

  • Bass

    Keeping someone in involuntary servitude (slavery) is a punishable offense. If abortion is much worse, how do we punish the offender? I am a confessional Lutheran, but I can no longer bear to hear Christians discuss abortion (and other life/death issues) because so many can’t get beyond the platitudes and slogans.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bass,
    There may be times when an abortion is needed, in order say to spare the life of the mother. But abortion is murder, it should be illegal, and the punishment should be that of any other murder.
    I would also like to say, not all killing of humans is murder. But to kill an innocent person for no other reason than convenience is murder. Killing someone in self-defense, war (a just war), and execution of criminals for crimes such as murder, rape, child molestation etc. is not murder. It is a just punishment.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bass,
    There may be times when an abortion is needed, in order say to spare the life of the mother. But abortion is murder, it should be illegal, and the punishment should be that of any other murder.
    I would also like to say, not all killing of humans is murder. But to kill an innocent person for no other reason than convenience is murder. Killing someone in self-defense, war (a just war), and execution of criminals for crimes such as murder, rape, child molestation etc. is not murder. It is a just punishment.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bass,
    Whether or not something is punished or not has no bearing on whether or not it is right or wrong. I doubt I will ever be thrown in jail for coveting my neighbors house, but it is still wrong. On the other hand, Christians are often punished for being Christian, yet that is still right. Neither does the classification of legal or illegal have a bearing on what is right or wrong.
    A murderer might not be punished for the crime in this world, but they are still murderers. I would like to see abortion declared illegal, with at a minimum jail time imposed on those who perform them, and those who have them. So that others would be deterred from killing innocent children. I would also like to see those who are guilty of this crime against humanity come to know Christ and be forgiven of their sins. I don’t want the state to forgive them, but I won’t argue with Christ for forgiving them either.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bass,
    Whether or not something is punished or not has no bearing on whether or not it is right or wrong. I doubt I will ever be thrown in jail for coveting my neighbors house, but it is still wrong. On the other hand, Christians are often punished for being Christian, yet that is still right. Neither does the classification of legal or illegal have a bearing on what is right or wrong.
    A murderer might not be punished for the crime in this world, but they are still murderers. I would like to see abortion declared illegal, with at a minimum jail time imposed on those who perform them, and those who have them. So that others would be deterred from killing innocent children. I would also like to see those who are guilty of this crime against humanity come to know Christ and be forgiven of their sins. I don’t want the state to forgive them, but I won’t argue with Christ for forgiving them either.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror, you asked (@7), “Are you seriously comparing Bush to Hitler?” No, I’m responding to your suggestion that the answer to whether assassination is God-pleasing depends on such a comparison: “Well, Hitler was evil, so murdering him would be okay, but you can only murder people who are evil at the Hitler level or above.” Would it be okay for a Russian to assassinate Putin? Or how about a pro-choice politician? After all, if one can logically (if not Biblically) arrive at the conclusion that murdering Hitler would save many lives, then would not murdering a pro-choice politician also save many lives? And in fact, many deeply wrong people have used Bonhoeffer’s action to justify their bombing abortion clinics and the like.

    Too bad none of this thinking points back to the Bible. “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good” … and, of course, to murder those authorities if they get out of hand. For the bad, the evil authorities, they were not established by God, so go ahead and murder them. For the sword was not given to every citizen for nothing. Each of you are God’s servant, an agent of wrath to end the life of the bad politician. Oh wait, what? I’m making up Bible passages? Hmm.

    “We should listen to a person when he is right, not write him off because he was wrong on another issue.” To a degree, I agree — do you feel the same way about William Ayers?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror, you asked (@7), “Are you seriously comparing Bush to Hitler?” No, I’m responding to your suggestion that the answer to whether assassination is God-pleasing depends on such a comparison: “Well, Hitler was evil, so murdering him would be okay, but you can only murder people who are evil at the Hitler level or above.” Would it be okay for a Russian to assassinate Putin? Or how about a pro-choice politician? After all, if one can logically (if not Biblically) arrive at the conclusion that murdering Hitler would save many lives, then would not murdering a pro-choice politician also save many lives? And in fact, many deeply wrong people have used Bonhoeffer’s action to justify their bombing abortion clinics and the like.

    Too bad none of this thinking points back to the Bible. “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good” … and, of course, to murder those authorities if they get out of hand. For the bad, the evil authorities, they were not established by God, so go ahead and murder them. For the sword was not given to every citizen for nothing. Each of you are God’s servant, an agent of wrath to end the life of the bad politician. Oh wait, what? I’m making up Bible passages? Hmm.

    “We should listen to a person when he is right, not write him off because he was wrong on another issue.” To a degree, I agree — do you feel the same way about William Ayers?

  • Joe

    I agree with everything Bror has said except this:

    “There may be times when an abortion is needed, in order say to spare the life of the mother.” I think the truth is that sometimes abortion is wanted because the mother and the father refuse to risk the death of the mother. It is not necessary; the mother could accept her death and let the child live. My wife and I have spoken about just this possibility and we agreed that it is not just to kill a child even if it means she had a great risk of death.

  • Joe

    I agree with everything Bror has said except this:

    “There may be times when an abortion is needed, in order say to spare the life of the mother.” I think the truth is that sometimes abortion is wanted because the mother and the father refuse to risk the death of the mother. It is not necessary; the mother could accept her death and let the child live. My wife and I have spoken about just this possibility and we agreed that it is not just to kill a child even if it means she had a great risk of death.

  • Joe

    I should clarify – I was talking about post # 13; not everything Bror has ever said.

  • Joe

    I should clarify – I was talking about post # 13; not everything Bror has ever said.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    If it were for me to judge I would have to take it on a case by case basis. I’m not here to talk in the hypothetical. I am talking of a very concrete case, that of Bonhoefer and Hitler. We could talk about Roman’s 13. However, important as this chapter is for the relationship of Christians to thier respective leaders, it is not a treatise on political science, nor is it an exhaustive chapter concerning itself with legitimate and illegitimate laws and governments. Paul’s own life shows that he himself did not believe one had or even should obey the government in everything. He may not have ever gone as far as Bonhoefer did, but that is not to say he would have disagreed with what Bonhoefer did. A Christian can not hide behind Romans 13, and say the government told me to. We are required to discern better than that.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    tODD,
    If it were for me to judge I would have to take it on a case by case basis. I’m not here to talk in the hypothetical. I am talking of a very concrete case, that of Bonhoefer and Hitler. We could talk about Roman’s 13. However, important as this chapter is for the relationship of Christians to thier respective leaders, it is not a treatise on political science, nor is it an exhaustive chapter concerning itself with legitimate and illegitimate laws and governments. Paul’s own life shows that he himself did not believe one had or even should obey the government in everything. He may not have ever gone as far as Bonhoefer did, but that is not to say he would have disagreed with what Bonhoefer did. A Christian can not hide behind Romans 13, and say the government told me to. We are required to discern better than that.

  • Anon

    Todd,
    Bonhoeffer was chaplain to those German lesser magistrates who were -not- violating their office, who were trying to fulfill that office by removing the dictator who was (radically, murderously) abusing his office as kanzler. The sad thing was that he thought that this was sin, and a violation of the doctrine of the two kingdoms. (if it were the true interpretation, then Luther would have backed the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor against the Lutherans and his Elector.)

    Bass, it is a logical fallacy to reject the reasoning of a position because there are people who do not consistantly hold to that position. Your post consists of that logical fallacy. As to penalty, as the Romanians said to Ceucesu “There is a God!”

    Bass, you -claim- to be a confessional Lutheran, presumably you wish to be one. That being so, you would believe the Bible, including on the matter of abortion and the penalty the civil governors are commanded to apply to it. You would also believe in the doctrine of the Fall, and realize that just because there are Christians who don’t live up to what they are supposed to know is true, that the truth is not therefore to be rejected. That also comes under Law and Gospel, I would think.

    I am aware of no medical case where abortion would save the life of the mother – would be less risky than childbirth.

  • Anon

    Todd,
    Bonhoeffer was chaplain to those German lesser magistrates who were -not- violating their office, who were trying to fulfill that office by removing the dictator who was (radically, murderously) abusing his office as kanzler. The sad thing was that he thought that this was sin, and a violation of the doctrine of the two kingdoms. (if it were the true interpretation, then Luther would have backed the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor against the Lutherans and his Elector.)

    Bass, it is a logical fallacy to reject the reasoning of a position because there are people who do not consistantly hold to that position. Your post consists of that logical fallacy. As to penalty, as the Romanians said to Ceucesu “There is a God!”

    Bass, you -claim- to be a confessional Lutheran, presumably you wish to be one. That being so, you would believe the Bible, including on the matter of abortion and the penalty the civil governors are commanded to apply to it. You would also believe in the doctrine of the Fall, and realize that just because there are Christians who don’t live up to what they are supposed to know is true, that the truth is not therefore to be rejected. That also comes under Law and Gospel, I would think.

    I am aware of no medical case where abortion would save the life of the mother – would be less risky than childbirth.

  • Bass

    Anon @19, you – claim – to understand what you read, but you have not only misconstrued my opinions but have added some rather incomprehensible ones of your own. God bless you.

  • Bass

    Anon @19, you – claim – to understand what you read, but you have not only misconstrued my opinions but have added some rather incomprehensible ones of your own. God bless you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror, you said (@18), “I’m not here to talk in the hypothetical.” That’s clearly not so — you had no trouble discussing the hypothetical in regard to abortion. And in that you spoke clearly with truth from God’s word, saying that “abortion is murder”. Too bad you have a hard time saying the same for assassination. I suppose that if one of your flock came to you confessing that he was plotting to assassinate a politician, you’d have to ask, “Well, which one?” before telling him whether it’s sinful or not? If not, what Bible passages would you consider when deciding whether to bless an assassination by one of your flock?

    “A Christian cannot hide behind Romans 13, and say the government told me to.” Um, that’s wholly irrelevant to the discussion. We’re not discussing doing evil on the state’s behalf and merely claiming obediance to authority. We’re discussing murdering that authority and then claiming that, somehow, it might be adiaphora, or that Romans 13 (or Titus 3) doesn’t speak to assassination.

    “Paul’s own life shows that he himself did not believe one had or even should obey the government in everything.” Bror, surely you understand the very basic principles that God lays down regarding our obedience. First, we must obey God rather than man. Second, we must be subject to the authorities, which God has instituted. The early Christians were commanded by the authorities not to preach the Gospel, so they followed the first law when the second conflicted with it. Now, if anyone had reason to take the law into his own hands, it was Paul. And yet he submitted to the authority and worked within its laws, though it was not much to his advantage to do so (at least, as considered from a human point of view). But to believe that Paul would bless Bonhoeffer’s action implies that God commanded him to murder Hitler. Is that your argument?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror, you said (@18), “I’m not here to talk in the hypothetical.” That’s clearly not so — you had no trouble discussing the hypothetical in regard to abortion. And in that you spoke clearly with truth from God’s word, saying that “abortion is murder”. Too bad you have a hard time saying the same for assassination. I suppose that if one of your flock came to you confessing that he was plotting to assassinate a politician, you’d have to ask, “Well, which one?” before telling him whether it’s sinful or not? If not, what Bible passages would you consider when deciding whether to bless an assassination by one of your flock?

    “A Christian cannot hide behind Romans 13, and say the government told me to.” Um, that’s wholly irrelevant to the discussion. We’re not discussing doing evil on the state’s behalf and merely claiming obediance to authority. We’re discussing murdering that authority and then claiming that, somehow, it might be adiaphora, or that Romans 13 (or Titus 3) doesn’t speak to assassination.

    “Paul’s own life shows that he himself did not believe one had or even should obey the government in everything.” Bror, surely you understand the very basic principles that God lays down regarding our obedience. First, we must obey God rather than man. Second, we must be subject to the authorities, which God has instituted. The early Christians were commanded by the authorities not to preach the Gospel, so they followed the first law when the second conflicted with it. Now, if anyone had reason to take the law into his own hands, it was Paul. And yet he submitted to the authority and worked within its laws, though it was not much to his advantage to do so (at least, as considered from a human point of view). But to believe that Paul would bless Bonhoeffer’s action implies that God commanded him to murder Hitler. Is that your argument?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’m still confused as to where I spoke hypothetically in regards to abortion. I spoke truth as you say from God’s word, it is murder.
    The assisination of murderous dictators, by other government officials, in order to protect their people, is not historically considered murder. If he had succeeded do you think he would have been tried and convicted of murder at the Hague?
    My point is that it wasn’t murder, if it was then Romans 13 would apply. I don’t know that Paul would have blessed it. What I said is I don’t think he would have disagreed with it. The kingdom of the left has its own laws and ways, and Bonhoefer acted within them, he also died by them. That is the way of the kingdom of the left, and of the law, the law will kill you if you try to live by it.
    Paul had a different vocation than the one the Bonhoefer was occupying in the assassination plot. But Paul did break the law, and he refused to submit to the governing authorities. He followed the laws that were in accord with God’s law, or did not conflict.
    Anon explains very well the whole thing of lesser magistrates. You might though read up a little, Uwe Siemon-Netto ” The Fabricated Luther, The rise and fall of the Shirer myth” and David Mark Whitford “Tyranny and Resistance.”
    The fact is that someone in the position of Bonhoefer who had opportunity to attempt what he did, would have been complicit in Hitlers crime had he done nothing. Standing by and watching senseless murder, doing nothing when you could do something, is murder.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’m still confused as to where I spoke hypothetically in regards to abortion. I spoke truth as you say from God’s word, it is murder.
    The assisination of murderous dictators, by other government officials, in order to protect their people, is not historically considered murder. If he had succeeded do you think he would have been tried and convicted of murder at the Hague?
    My point is that it wasn’t murder, if it was then Romans 13 would apply. I don’t know that Paul would have blessed it. What I said is I don’t think he would have disagreed with it. The kingdom of the left has its own laws and ways, and Bonhoefer acted within them, he also died by them. That is the way of the kingdom of the left, and of the law, the law will kill you if you try to live by it.
    Paul had a different vocation than the one the Bonhoefer was occupying in the assassination plot. But Paul did break the law, and he refused to submit to the governing authorities. He followed the laws that were in accord with God’s law, or did not conflict.
    Anon explains very well the whole thing of lesser magistrates. You might though read up a little, Uwe Siemon-Netto ” The Fabricated Luther, The rise and fall of the Shirer myth” and David Mark Whitford “Tyranny and Resistance.”
    The fact is that someone in the position of Bonhoefer who had opportunity to attempt what he did, would have been complicit in Hitlers crime had he done nothing. Standing by and watching senseless murder, doing nothing when you could do something, is murder.

  • Bass

    Bror, you say (@13) that abortion is murder, though you made some exceptions. You also say (@22) that “[s]tanding by and watching senseless murder, doing nothing when you could do something, is murder.”
    Have you not thus accused yourself of murder because, presumably, you do nothing to stop abortions? Are you also not blessing the preemptive destruction of abortion clinics or murder of doctors who perform abortions?
    Correct me if I have misunderstood you.

  • Bass

    Bror, you say (@13) that abortion is murder, though you made some exceptions. You also say (@22) that “[s]tanding by and watching senseless murder, doing nothing when you could do something, is murder.”
    Have you not thus accused yourself of murder because, presumably, you do nothing to stop abortions? Are you also not blessing the preemptive destruction of abortion clinics or murder of doctors who perform abortions?
    Correct me if I have misunderstood you.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Bass as to your question as to the proper penalty for abortion. I would have no objection to making abortion a capital offence. That being said no punishment can be attached to the offence until we allow it and in a republic without some measure of social support for such punishment. In otherwords, just because society is not ready to apply the death penalty to abortion doctors is no reason that we should not strive to make it illegal. After we have made abortion illegal we can have a society wide discussion as to what penalties should attach to the procedure. Right now lets just make it illegal.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Bass as to your question as to the proper penalty for abortion. I would have no objection to making abortion a capital offence. That being said no punishment can be attached to the offence until we allow it and in a republic without some measure of social support for such punishment. In otherwords, just because society is not ready to apply the death penalty to abortion doctors is no reason that we should not strive to make it illegal. After we have made abortion illegal we can have a society wide discussion as to what penalties should attach to the procedure. Right now lets just make it illegal.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    that should be outlaw not allow

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    that should be outlaw not allow

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    The whole tODD argument that the plot to kill Hitler would be morally equivalent to killing an evil American politician is beside the point. Hitler’s killing was not justified because he was evil. It maybe that Obama with his support of the murder of the 50000000 is even more evil. Pure evilness is no justification for political assination. In Hitler’s case his warlike tendency was putting Germany in danger of being invaded and destroyed. The plotters hoped to save Germany the fate that she would eventually recieve at the hand of the allies. They were motivated by patriotism pure andsimple. I am not justifying their actions I am saying that there is no American parallel. We are not in danger of being invaded and destroyed. The assination of an American political leader will not prevent the destruction of our country. There is no patriotic justification for the political assination. It was never about how evil Hitler, it was about saving Germany from the evils the allies would inflict upon her.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    The whole tODD argument that the plot to kill Hitler would be morally equivalent to killing an evil American politician is beside the point. Hitler’s killing was not justified because he was evil. It maybe that Obama with his support of the murder of the 50000000 is even more evil. Pure evilness is no justification for political assination. In Hitler’s case his warlike tendency was putting Germany in danger of being invaded and destroyed. The plotters hoped to save Germany the fate that she would eventually recieve at the hand of the allies. They were motivated by patriotism pure andsimple. I am not justifying their actions I am saying that there is no American parallel. We are not in danger of being invaded and destroyed. The assination of an American political leader will not prevent the destruction of our country. There is no patriotic justification for the political assination. It was never about how evil Hitler, it was about saving Germany from the evils the allies would inflict upon her.

  • utahrainbow

    An old Issues, Etc. show with guest Uwe Simeon-Etto addressed Bonhoeffer’s actions against Hitler. If I remember right, Bonhoeffer felt it WAS a sin to be involved in a plot to assassinate their leader. But he also felt he was in somewhat of a conundrum and felt it also sinful to do nothing. I think he cast himself on Christ in this, knowing he could do nothing but sin. And he did pay for it with his life.

    So I would venture to say it is quite consistent with his take on abortion.

    Bonhoeffer scholars, please correct me if I’m wrong. I will try to find the show I am referring to.

  • utahrainbow

    An old Issues, Etc. show with guest Uwe Simeon-Etto addressed Bonhoeffer’s actions against Hitler. If I remember right, Bonhoeffer felt it WAS a sin to be involved in a plot to assassinate their leader. But he also felt he was in somewhat of a conundrum and felt it also sinful to do nothing. I think he cast himself on Christ in this, knowing he could do nothing but sin. And he did pay for it with his life.

    So I would venture to say it is quite consistent with his take on abortion.

    Bonhoeffer scholars, please correct me if I’m wrong. I will try to find the show I am referring to.

  • utahrainbow

    January 30, 2006 Hour 3
    “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christians & Government Authority”
    with Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto

    (Sorry about misspelling the Dr.’s name in #27!)

  • utahrainbow

    January 30, 2006 Hour 3
    “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christians & Government Authority”
    with Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto

    (Sorry about misspelling the Dr.’s name in #27!)

  • Carl Vehse

    Prior to his involvement in the assassination plot on Hitler, is there any historical documentation that Bonhoeffer specifically announced he was switching his loyalty and allegiance from the German govenment (which at that time was Hitler) to another government (e.g., U.S., U.K., etc.) or did he, and the other plotters, just prefer the German government minus Hitler as the head?

    If an American GI or OSS agent had managed to infiltrate Germany and kill Hitler during WWII, no one would likely regard that as murder, although the assassin would still be tortured and executed (as was Bonhoeffer) if captured by the Nazis.

  • Carl Vehse

    Prior to his involvement in the assassination plot on Hitler, is there any historical documentation that Bonhoeffer specifically announced he was switching his loyalty and allegiance from the German govenment (which at that time was Hitler) to another government (e.g., U.S., U.K., etc.) or did he, and the other plotters, just prefer the German government minus Hitler as the head?

    If an American GI or OSS agent had managed to infiltrate Germany and kill Hitler during WWII, no one would likely regard that as murder, although the assassin would still be tortured and executed (as was Bonhoeffer) if captured by the Nazis.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bass,
    For one I do do what I can to stop abortions. And I do not agree with those who bomb abortion clinics.
    However, yes I do convict myself of murder, many times a day, whenever I have vindictive thoughts towards those who annoy me etc…

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bass,
    For one I do do what I can to stop abortions. And I do not agree with those who bomb abortion clinics.
    However, yes I do convict myself of murder, many times a day, whenever I have vindictive thoughts towards those who annoy me etc…

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Regarding Bonhoeffer: It is highly perilous to judge a man’s actions in extreme situations. One should be charitable, and especially in these case judge not, less ye be judged.

    To pontificate about wrong or right in situations far from your own, outside your own experience, and not knowing (and understanding) all the facts, is wrong.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Regarding Bonhoeffer: It is highly perilous to judge a man’s actions in extreme situations. One should be charitable, and especially in these case judge not, less ye be judged.

    To pontificate about wrong or right in situations far from your own, outside your own experience, and not knowing (and understanding) all the facts, is wrong.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m really bothered by this weird exceptionalism people apply to Hitler and World War II: Hitler was truly, obviously evil, an evil that no American President has or will ever rise to, so what “should have” been done to Hitler would not, it is argued, apply to our country. And thus, any questions about whether or not it would be okay to assassinate our leaders are brushed aside: “Are you seriously comparing Bush to Hitler?” Thus, Hitler becomes an uncomparible monster (along with a few other people, usually), not a real person from whom lessons can be learned.

    Bror, I have no idea why you again replied (@22) that “Paul did break the law, and he refused to submit to the governing authorities,” given that he only disobeyed the authorities when he was obeying God. This only compares to Bonhoeffer’s situation if his disobeying the authorities (by murdering one of them) was obeying God. Was it? What law of God’s was Bonhoeffer obeying that led him to murder?

    “The fact is that someone in the position of Bonhoefer who had opportunity to attempt what he did, would have been complicit in Hitlers crime had he done nothing.” This is quite a ridiculous argument: either Bonhoeffer could “do nothing” or he could murder Hitler. Only two choices. No, Bonhoeffer could have opposed Hitler in all sorts of ways that didn’t involve murder. Odds are that the results would have been the same (Bonhoeffer is hanged for treason) but no less effective. After all, murdering Hitler may have had no more effect in stopping the war and the Holocaust than murdering an American president would have in stopping one of our wars. (Honestly, do people think that the murder of Hitler would have stopped Germany? How do you explain China and the Soviet Union then?)

    America has had and will have horrible presidents who lead us into stupid wars. Is the argument really that the only way to stop these wars is to assassinate our leaders? There seems to be this attitude that things just don’t compare here in the good ol’ U.S., but all the arguments being made here could apply. I’m sure many of the people who’ve murdered politicians thought they were patriotic, doing it for the “good of the country”, or saving the lives of many people by preventing some (perceived) evil, or preserving the country from being ruined. I guess those arguing here could say nothing to those people to stop them.

    And Carl (@29), if your argument holds, then would an American be justified in murdering one of our politicians if he switched allegiance to whatever entity we happened to be at war with at the time? Is that all that’s required to skirt the law on murder — a declaration of allegiance? Seems pharisaical to me.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m really bothered by this weird exceptionalism people apply to Hitler and World War II: Hitler was truly, obviously evil, an evil that no American President has or will ever rise to, so what “should have” been done to Hitler would not, it is argued, apply to our country. And thus, any questions about whether or not it would be okay to assassinate our leaders are brushed aside: “Are you seriously comparing Bush to Hitler?” Thus, Hitler becomes an uncomparible monster (along with a few other people, usually), not a real person from whom lessons can be learned.

    Bror, I have no idea why you again replied (@22) that “Paul did break the law, and he refused to submit to the governing authorities,” given that he only disobeyed the authorities when he was obeying God. This only compares to Bonhoeffer’s situation if his disobeying the authorities (by murdering one of them) was obeying God. Was it? What law of God’s was Bonhoeffer obeying that led him to murder?

    “The fact is that someone in the position of Bonhoefer who had opportunity to attempt what he did, would have been complicit in Hitlers crime had he done nothing.” This is quite a ridiculous argument: either Bonhoeffer could “do nothing” or he could murder Hitler. Only two choices. No, Bonhoeffer could have opposed Hitler in all sorts of ways that didn’t involve murder. Odds are that the results would have been the same (Bonhoeffer is hanged for treason) but no less effective. After all, murdering Hitler may have had no more effect in stopping the war and the Holocaust than murdering an American president would have in stopping one of our wars. (Honestly, do people think that the murder of Hitler would have stopped Germany? How do you explain China and the Soviet Union then?)

    America has had and will have horrible presidents who lead us into stupid wars. Is the argument really that the only way to stop these wars is to assassinate our leaders? There seems to be this attitude that things just don’t compare here in the good ol’ U.S., but all the arguments being made here could apply. I’m sure many of the people who’ve murdered politicians thought they were patriotic, doing it for the “good of the country”, or saving the lives of many people by preventing some (perceived) evil, or preserving the country from being ruined. I guess those arguing here could say nothing to those people to stop them.

    And Carl (@29), if your argument holds, then would an American be justified in murdering one of our politicians if he switched allegiance to whatever entity we happened to be at war with at the time? Is that all that’s required to skirt the law on murder — a declaration of allegiance? Seems pharisaical to me.

  • Anon

    Todd,
    The plot to assassin the brigand and tyrant Hitler did not stand alone. The lawful lesser magistrates were then going to sue for peace with the Allies and bring the war to a speedy end.

    Every American or other westerner who has graduated from high school ought to know that.

  • Anon

    Todd,
    The plot to assassin the brigand and tyrant Hitler did not stand alone. The lawful lesser magistrates were then going to sue for peace with the Allies and bring the war to a speedy end.

    Every American or other westerner who has graduated from high school ought to know that.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@33), that is hardly a solid claim that murdering Hitler would have ended the war. It is a claim that some people in Germany would have used the occasion of his assassination to hope to end the war — whether it was truly in their authority to do so in the event of his death, I do not know. Whether it would have succeeded, on several different levels, neither you nor I know. None of which excuses the element of murder in their plan.

    Feel free to point to a decent source on this claim, though. Perhaps your use of the word “magistrate” is not the most popular one, but I could find nothing authoritative in several online encyclopedias, and a Google search for [hitler "lesser magistrates"] returned all of 122 results, your claims of high school standards notwithstanding.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anon (@33), that is hardly a solid claim that murdering Hitler would have ended the war. It is a claim that some people in Germany would have used the occasion of his assassination to hope to end the war — whether it was truly in their authority to do so in the event of his death, I do not know. Whether it would have succeeded, on several different levels, neither you nor I know. None of which excuses the element of murder in their plan.

    Feel free to point to a decent source on this claim, though. Perhaps your use of the word “magistrate” is not the most popular one, but I could find nothing authoritative in several online encyclopedias, and a Google search for [hitler "lesser magistrates"] returned all of 122 results, your claims of high school standards notwithstanding.

  • utahrainbow

    Okay, here’s an actual link. That might help.

    http://issuesetcarchive.org/mp3/Issues6/Issues_Etc_Jan_30c.mp3

    It’s worth listening to especially in light of this discussion and not that long.

    But to sum up: I should not have said “do nothing” as he did many and various things short of assassination for years. It got to the point where they decided that Hitler had too much control in Germany to bring him to justice adequately and assassination, lopping off the head of the monster, seemed the only way. Bonhoeffer was a pacifist, actually, so this was definitely a lesser of two evils thing for him. Two EVILS. He did not think it good, but better than the other evil.

    So…in reference to this post’s original point. He could definitely hold the view that abortion is murder and commit his “treasonous” acts consistently.

  • utahrainbow

    Okay, here’s an actual link. That might help.

    http://issuesetcarchive.org/mp3/Issues6/Issues_Etc_Jan_30c.mp3

    It’s worth listening to especially in light of this discussion and not that long.

    But to sum up: I should not have said “do nothing” as he did many and various things short of assassination for years. It got to the point where they decided that Hitler had too much control in Germany to bring him to justice adequately and assassination, lopping off the head of the monster, seemed the only way. Bonhoeffer was a pacifist, actually, so this was definitely a lesser of two evils thing for him. Two EVILS. He did not think it good, but better than the other evil.

    So…in reference to this post’s original point. He could definitely hold the view that abortion is murder and commit his “treasonous” acts consistently.

  • Carl Vehse

    tODD, why would you suggest that my specific question of whether Bonhoeffer publicly switched allegiance in WWII from the German government to the U.S. or U.K. government implies a justification for an American murdering one of our politicians after switching allegiance to “whatever entity we happened to be at war with at the time”? Such a suggestion is an example of the fallacy known as a “hasty generalization”.

  • Carl Vehse

    tODD, why would you suggest that my specific question of whether Bonhoeffer publicly switched allegiance in WWII from the German government to the U.S. or U.K. government implies a justification for an American murdering one of our politicians after switching allegiance to “whatever entity we happened to be at war with at the time”? Such a suggestion is an example of the fallacy known as a “hasty generalization”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@36), it’s true that I have made an inference, but in order for it to qualify as a logical fallacy, the inference I made has to be wrong. Feel free to tell me why it is wrong, and then I will respond as necessary.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@36), it’s true that I have made an inference, but in order for it to qualify as a logical fallacy, the inference I made has to be wrong. Feel free to tell me why it is wrong, and then I will respond as necessary.

  • Anon

    tODD,
    That is just because you appear to be unfamiliar with the Christian tradition of political thought. You should try Aquinas, Augustine, Calvin, Knox and of course Rutherford’s _Lex, Rex_ which was plagiarized so heavily in the Declaration of Independence.

    It is a fact that the German general staff wanted an end to the war. They had the power and means to do so. WWII history is interesting. You might enjoy reading it.

  • Anon

    tODD,
    That is just because you appear to be unfamiliar with the Christian tradition of political thought. You should try Aquinas, Augustine, Calvin, Knox and of course Rutherford’s _Lex, Rex_ which was plagiarized so heavily in the Declaration of Independence.

    It is a fact that the German general staff wanted an end to the war. They had the power and means to do so. WWII history is interesting. You might enjoy reading it.

  • Trey

    tODD,

    I have tried to read all your posts, and indulge me where I may misstate your prior posts, but it seems to me you equate any type of killing as murder. Governments are justified in killing if they are punishing evil. Bonhoeffer struggled with this aspect because he was not part of the recognized government, yet as Anon correctly asserted he was part of a lesser magistrate as being part of the Abwehr, German intelligence. Bonhoeffer correctly asseted that not to act when he was able was a sin (see the Good Samaritan Luke 10).

    We really don’t know how many lives the assassination of Hitler may of saved, but because we can’t know does that mean we should not try? Basically, if we cannot know what stopping evil will do, does that mean we should not attempt to destroy it and oppose it? Would you say that the U.S. dropping 2 atomic bombs on Japan because it “might” save American and allied casualties was bad policy? While we cannot know the future completely we can make educated guesses and inferences that are based upon statistics and facts. Scripture teaches that governments should oppose evil and that when a government takes life it is justified when it is attempting to preserve peace, order and life.

  • Trey

    tODD,

    I have tried to read all your posts, and indulge me where I may misstate your prior posts, but it seems to me you equate any type of killing as murder. Governments are justified in killing if they are punishing evil. Bonhoeffer struggled with this aspect because he was not part of the recognized government, yet as Anon correctly asserted he was part of a lesser magistrate as being part of the Abwehr, German intelligence. Bonhoeffer correctly asseted that not to act when he was able was a sin (see the Good Samaritan Luke 10).

    We really don’t know how many lives the assassination of Hitler may of saved, but because we can’t know does that mean we should not try? Basically, if we cannot know what stopping evil will do, does that mean we should not attempt to destroy it and oppose it? Would you say that the U.S. dropping 2 atomic bombs on Japan because it “might” save American and allied casualties was bad policy? While we cannot know the future completely we can make educated guesses and inferences that are based upon statistics and facts. Scripture teaches that governments should oppose evil and that when a government takes life it is justified when it is attempting to preserve peace, order and life.

  • Rick

    Here is a truncated version of the law of defense-of-others: A person may defend a third person under the same conditions that the third person could defend himself.

    In other words, if the Jews could legally kill Hitler in self-defense, then Bonhoeffer could do the same on their behalf.

    The charge of “murder” against Bonhoeffer is rather silly. The only way such a charge would stick is if we first cleared Hitler of murder, only then would Bonhoeffer not be able to claim “self-defense” or “defense-of-others.”

    Even though what the Nazis did was technically not against the “law,” the Allies still justly convened the Nuremburg Trials in order to prosecute and punish them for “crimes against humanity.” Anyone who accuses Bonhoeffer of murder must also condemn the Nuremburg Trials as unjust.

    The Nazis cleared Hitler of murder, and executed Bonhoeffer instead. Anyone who accuses Bonhoeffer of murder agrees with that verdict. Anyone who accuses Bonhoeffer of murder, acquits Hitler.

  • Rick

    Here is a truncated version of the law of defense-of-others: A person may defend a third person under the same conditions that the third person could defend himself.

    In other words, if the Jews could legally kill Hitler in self-defense, then Bonhoeffer could do the same on their behalf.

    The charge of “murder” against Bonhoeffer is rather silly. The only way such a charge would stick is if we first cleared Hitler of murder, only then would Bonhoeffer not be able to claim “self-defense” or “defense-of-others.”

    Even though what the Nazis did was technically not against the “law,” the Allies still justly convened the Nuremburg Trials in order to prosecute and punish them for “crimes against humanity.” Anyone who accuses Bonhoeffer of murder must also condemn the Nuremburg Trials as unjust.

    The Nazis cleared Hitler of murder, and executed Bonhoeffer instead. Anyone who accuses Bonhoeffer of murder agrees with that verdict. Anyone who accuses Bonhoeffer of murder, acquits Hitler.

  • slim

    I understand how the discussion on abortion and Bonhoeffer’s objection to it has morphed into a discussion of Romans 13. I do not understand, though, how general principles on Christian civil disobedience have had only limited reference in the continuing discussion. Do principles of Civil Disobedience allow for assassination? (Killing one’s elected leader even in defense of an innocent third party is still an assassination and different from protecting a third party from potential mortal injury by using deadly force against some generic citizen. Even shooting down a mere policeman taking aim at a member of one’s family is not kosher.) What did David have to say about killing Saul?

    One could argue, like MLK in Birmingham, that there was no way to work within the system to bring about justice and so one needed to break the law. (There is an open argument about whether MLK was right in openly protesting/marching without a permit, but neither side is convincing to me.) Regardless, MLK willingly went to prison out of respect for authority – one that was working against him. MLK’s pointer letter from jail made the point that if the white Christians had used their influence, he would not have been in the position of having to choose between violating a rigged law or remaining passive against injustice.) Was there no other way for Bonhoeffer to get a just end than to attempt assassination? (Even if there was no other way, to excuse it because of Hitler’s evil is improper. utahrainbow’s comment that Bonhoeffer’s view was that the assassination was the lesser of two evils makes some sense, but it still does not seem to justify a citizen assassinating his own ruler.) Besides resorting to assassination, what could have Bonhoeffer done to end Hitler’s reign of evil?

  • slim

    I understand how the discussion on abortion and Bonhoeffer’s objection to it has morphed into a discussion of Romans 13. I do not understand, though, how general principles on Christian civil disobedience have had only limited reference in the continuing discussion. Do principles of Civil Disobedience allow for assassination? (Killing one’s elected leader even in defense of an innocent third party is still an assassination and different from protecting a third party from potential mortal injury by using deadly force against some generic citizen. Even shooting down a mere policeman taking aim at a member of one’s family is not kosher.) What did David have to say about killing Saul?

    One could argue, like MLK in Birmingham, that there was no way to work within the system to bring about justice and so one needed to break the law. (There is an open argument about whether MLK was right in openly protesting/marching without a permit, but neither side is convincing to me.) Regardless, MLK willingly went to prison out of respect for authority – one that was working against him. MLK’s pointer letter from jail made the point that if the white Christians had used their influence, he would not have been in the position of having to choose between violating a rigged law or remaining passive against injustice.) Was there no other way for Bonhoeffer to get a just end than to attempt assassination? (Even if there was no other way, to excuse it because of Hitler’s evil is improper. utahrainbow’s comment that Bonhoeffer’s view was that the assassination was the lesser of two evils makes some sense, but it still does not seem to justify a citizen assassinating his own ruler.) Besides resorting to assassination, what could have Bonhoeffer done to end Hitler’s reign of evil?


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