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Posts Tagged ‘Political Crisis’

The English Language Section of the International Bonhoeffer Society has taken the unusual step of issuing a letter in response to all the political and moral turmoil in the United States these days. Here is the opening paragraph of that letter:

The United States has undergone an unusually contentious, bitter, and ugly election that has brought  us to an equally contentious, bitter, and ugly beginning of the presidency of Donald J. Trump. While it is impossible to predict what lies ahead, we are gravely concerned by the rise in hateful rhetoric  and violence, the deep divisions and distrust in our country, and the weakening in respectful public discourse. Some of the institutions that have traditionally protected our freedoms are under threat. In particular, this election has made the most vulnerable members of our society, including people  of color, members of the LGBTQ communities, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, the poor, and the  marginally employed and the unemployed, feel even more vulnerable and disempowered.

And the closing paragraphs make suggestions about relevant ideas gleaned from the writings of Bonhoeffer:

  • He warned that leaders become “misleaders” when they are interested only in their own  power and neglect their responsibilities to serve those whom they govern. (1933)
  • He warned that when a government persecutes its minorities, it has ceased to govern  legitimately. (1933)
  • He admonished Christians to “speak out for those who cannot speak” (1934) and reminded  that the church has an “unconditional obligation toward the victims of any societal order,  even if they do not belong to the Christian community.” (1933)
  • In his book Discipleship, he wrote: “From the human point of view there are countless possibilities of understanding and interpreting the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus knows only one possibility: simply go and obey. Do not interpret or apply, but do it and obey. That is the only way Jesus’ word is really heard. But again, doing something is not to be understood  as an ideal possibility; instead, we are simply to begin acting.”(1936)
  • He wrote: “I believe that in every moment of distress God will give us as much strength to  resist as we need…I believe that even our mistakes and shortcomings are not in vain and that is not more difficult for God to deal with them than with our supposedly good deeds. I believe that God is no timeless fate but waits for and responds to sincere prayer and  responsible actions.” (1942)
  • He wrote: “Is there a political responsibility of the individual Christian? Individual Christians can certainly not be held responsible for the government’s actions, nor dare they make  themselves responsible for them. But on the basis of their faith and love of neighbor, they are responsible for their own vocation and personal sphere of living, however large or small  it is. Wherever this responsibility is faithfully exercised, it has efficacy for the polis as a whole.”(1941)
  • He wrote: “…  one only learns to have faith by living in the full this-worldliness of
    life….then one takes seriously no longer one’s own sufferings but rather the suffering of God in the world. Then one stays awake with Christ in Gethsemane…. How should one become arrogant over successes or shaken by one’s failures when one shares in God’s suffering in the life of this world?” (1944)

In the coming time, we will seek to live such a life of witness, not only for the sake of our  country, but because our Christian faith calls us to do so.

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