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Bonhoeffer: Not a Conspirator After All?

Scot McKnight provides a brief summary of what sound like an intriguing book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking (BakerAcademic, 2013), by Mark Thiessen Nation, Anthony G. Siegrist, and Daniel P. Umbel. The books thesis, as McKnight describes it, is that Bonhoeffer abandoned his former pacifist stance and became involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler, is not as ironclad as many think (and certainly as it was taught to me).

McKnight lays out the theory of Nation et al. and seems to find it compelling. He summarizes the book as follows:

I consider this book a successful challenge to the ruling paradigm that sees a major shift in Bonhoeffer from his idealism of Discipleship to a realist posture in Ethics. In other words, if you remember my first post on this (28 Oct), I’m glad I removed that section. I no longer think Bonhoeffer made a tragic mistake in entering into the conspiracy and so shifted from his pacifism because I’m not convinced he entered into the conspiracy. Bonhoeffer may well have sustained his pacifism.

I’d love to hear what anyone who has read the book has to say about it.


1 Comment

  1. WF says:

    I’d want to be accurate, beyond all else. But I start off skeptical when it looks like an argument is motivated by ideology rather than facts. Is the moving force disappointment that Bonhoeffer wasn’t “a purist” as the other person defines purist? But Bonhoeffer comes from a school of thought where putting personal purity above helping people is seen as far more impure in the real sense. (Most people have never heard the original context to Luther’s “sin boldly” … )

    Again, I’d want to be accurate about Bonhoeffer; let reality be the ultimate word.

    Take care & God bless
    Anne / WF


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