Archives For Dietrich Bonhoeffer

One of Dietrich Bonheoffer’s key advocates in England throughout the 1930s-40s was Anglican Bishop George Bell. He famously clashed with Churchill over saturation bombing, challenged the ‘kill ‘em all’ ethos of Vansittart, and stood firm against the fallacies behind Vansittartism, which painted all Germans as Nazis without distinction.

Bell’s close relationship with the Confessing Church in Germany led to his 1940 book ‘Christianity and World Order’. Bell was well aware of the German Church’s struggle against a diluted Christianity, which had been pressed into the service of an overbearing and totalitarian state [i]. The book was a brave attempt at igniting the light of post-war peace in the hearts of those fighting against a present darkness.

Through his friends in Germany, Bell had the privilege of seeing firsthand the anti-Nazi actions being undertaken by the Church. He also witnessed the suffering inflicted on the Confessing Church for standing, where many others chose to remain silent or had given up; where once-were-Christians, replaced their faith in Christ, with faith in the Utopian promise of National Socialism.

Churchill’s government downplayed the potency of the German resistance. The resistance was rejected as impotent, and discounted as inconsequential. Bell was eventually shut out by Churchill for his insistence on Allied support for it, and for his public criticism of “saturation bombing” over areas known to be populated by civilians. Churchill’s move ignored the opposition on the ground. Formed by people like Hans Von Dohnanyi, and Karl Bonhoeffer; key conspirators, who knew that a negotiated peace was only an option if the Nazis were replaced.

The conspirators knew that peace would not be a reality unless the German resistance could stage a type of 1776 revolution, akin to that of the United States. Something Bell himself concedes was difficult, but not impossible; acknowledging that the ideological vice-grip was too firmly wrapped around the hearts and minds of Germans [ii].

Still, Bell remained defiant. Churchill’s justifiable counter moves against Hitler were not justified, if Churchill became as tyrannical as Hitler. The dismissal of the existence of any German resistance, and the “saturation bombing” policy were red flags.

An Allied victory and the post-war peace which followed would see a repeat of history if Christianity was ejected from the centre of the proceedings. For Bell, any positive post-war reconstruction necessitates placing the peace handed to us by Jesus Christ into the marrow of present war aims.

His justification for this was that Christianity is a threat to all man-made systems of salvation and condemnation [iii]. Subsequently, under the Lordship of Christ, Christianity stands opposed to the Lordlessness of the totalitarian state.

Therefore, Bell concludes,

‘the extension of Christianity all over the world is vital to the future of humanity. The new movements which are pseudo-religions, such as Communism, Fascism, and Secularism in its various forms, threaten the highest spiritual values in human life with destruction.’ [iv]

Inherent within these anti-Christ movements is the denial of life. Man and woman are solely material beings; a cog in a machine.

‘These movements reject God. They reject the supreme value of humanity. They are destroyers of civilisation.’ [v]

Bell’s big warning to us in our current climate is this: the expanding State develops totalitarian tendencies.

It ‘lays claim to man, and woman, in the totality of his and her being. It seeks to impose on all its citizens a particular philosophy of life (ideology)’ – any such ‘State which advances such claims on humanity has declared itself to be not only a State, but also a religious organisation.’ [vi]

Here the State exalted to godlike status moves from servant to master. There are no free citizens, only tortured subjects and power-hungry sycophants.

Staunchly opposed to this denial of a right to life and livelihood, is Christian faith and its ‘hope which can [and does] rise above all horrors’ (Romans 8:28).

Bell states, ‘Christianity is not a fugitive and cloistered religion. It is alive, fiery, exercised and fully breathed.’ [vii] As such, Christian existence ‘protests against this terrible despotism, this overwhelming domination of human life, with all the energy at its command’ [viii].

In other words, Christian living commands defiance of the deification of personality, party or political ideology. Likewise, we must identify and critique a diluted Christianity, which is pressed into the service of an overbearing and totalitarian state.

This is why Bell asserts that ‘the Church everywhere should be a confessional Church. It should be the church of the brave Word, [bravely] spoken.’ [ix] For ‘it is Christianity alone that shows man and woman their true destiny, and enables both to enjoy fullness of life.’ [x]

These words were written down eighty years ago. They contain within them a stern warning to our governments today: any justifiable counter moves against an enemy are not justified, if they make the government as tyrannical as the enemy it fights.

Question the new normal.


References:

Bell, G. Rev. 1940, Christianity and World Order, Penguin

[i] ‘The church struggle between the German Confessing Church & German Christians was about a refusal to yield to National Socialist ideology & the pressure of the State.’ (p.71)

[ii] Bell advocates revolution against the National Socialist regime. (p.92) Although the dismissal from Churchill’s government wasn’t completely unjustified, it can be argued that the lack of serious interest gave longevity to the war.

[iii] For Bell, ‘Christianity means primarily Jesus Christ, His life, death resurrection, the new age He birthed, and the community of which He is the head.’ (p.140)

[iv] ibid, p.137

[v] ibid, p.137

[vi] Bell citing J.H.Oldham, p.69

[vii] ibid, p.145

[viii] ibid, p.70

[ix] ibid, p.146

[x] ibid, p.137

First published on Caldron Pool, 16th March 2020

© Rod Lampard, 2020

So I penned some quick thoughts today for an old friend concerned about the state of things in Australia. I’ll post it here as I have on social media, because it might help put some things into perspective for you the same way it has for us.

Remember Italy has the highest older population in Europe. It also didn’t close down it’s borders until late in the game. Whereas Australia, followed the U.S and banned travel pretty much right of the bat – smart decision.

Australia is also an island continent, meaning the cases we have here, shouldn’t increase much more than they have – despite predictions; it can be contained better, and those who are infected can receive better treatment.

I think the bigger concern for us, is trade, the economic impact – purely because we are an island continent and import a lot of goods. This could be a good thing, though for local producers, though, as demand for their product increases, simply because it cannot be sourced anywhere else.

I’m not saying the COVID-19 issue is going away anytime soon, or that it’s not serious, it is. I’m saying our ability, say as compared to Italy and Spain to contain, treat, and slow infection rates, is far greater. Due largely to decisive, unpopular action early on from Morrison, and his continued vigilance, through working with Labor, and state governments in a “war cabinet” in order to better serve the needs of Australians.

He’s clearly putting party divisions and politics behind him in this regard, which is good leadership.

So a) we are already, as a nation, socially distanced because of our geography b) we have a war chest, so we’re better positioned economically, thanks to good management of the economy c) we have a leader who has taken the reigns and pushed beyond petty political manoeuvring (such as the Greens are doing) in order to see us through.

Strategically speaking we’re doing well so far. Let’s hope and pray it stays that way.

I’m not sold on the “things will never be the same again”. Neither should you be. This was said after 9/11, and sure things did change regarding security etc. But we’re smarter and understand a lot more about our world because of the event – call it beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3).

I believe the same Biblical example applies here.

We can either learn from this and improve ourselves, both as a society and as individuals, or fail to recognise what generations before us have. That even ‘in suffering we should aim to affirm life’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

We should recall that deliverance is the point of Easter. God cares for humanity, and has made Himself known through his covenant with Israel and in Jesus Christ. God redeems the irredeemable. We are not abandoned, though we may find Him silent from time to time. He isn’t beyond liberating in the present, having already proven Himself to be Our past and future liberator.


Bonhoeffer, D.2012.  God is On The Cross: Reflections on Lent & Easter, Westminster John Knox Press (p.52)

Photo by Ahna Ziegler on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2020

Entitled ‘Gideon: God is my Lord’ [i] and preached in Berlin on February 26, 1933 ‘Bonhoeffer gave his first sermon’ since Hitler had been enshrined as chancellor 27 days prior.

Bonhoeffer’s decision to preach from the Old Testament was deliberate. In my opinion, he couldn’t have picked a more controversial figure, at the time, to make a political point.

Nazism, much the same as Communism, is an industry built on victimhood. These systems need a perpetual sense of victimization and sympathy in order to maintain membership and political momentum.

Bonhoeffer understood this. He chose Gideon in a deliberate attempt to preach against the imagery used in Nazi propaganda. In a way Bonhoeffer was reaching for Martin Luther’s epic treatise ‘Bondage of the Will’, to challenge Nazism’s ‘Triumph of the Will.’[ii]

For example: Larry Rasmussen suggests Bonhoeffer contrasted a ‘young [powerless] man chosen by God to save Israel from their enemies and turn them away from the worship of false gods’ with ‘Siegfried, the unconquered Germanic hero figure (of the Nibelung saga), idealised by the Nazis.’ [iii]

Expanding on this Isabel Best writes that Bonhoeffer sets out to ‘describe God’s power in contrast to human might, and finally from Martin Luther’s ‘A Might Fortress,’ to assure his hearers that even now the power, and the victory, are God’s alone.’[iv]

Gideon’s message is God’s grace to the Israelites and through the witness of Gideon this message is also about God’s graciousness towards humanity.

Bonheoffer expresses this clearly:

‘Gideon, we recognise your voice only too well; you sound just the same today as you did then…
Who would be willing to say that he or she has never heard this call and has never answered, as Gideon did: Lord, with what I am supposed to do such great things?
But Gideon is silenced; today as just in those days, he’s told to shut up. You’re asking, “With what?” Haven’t you realised what it means that this is God calling to you? Isn’t the call of God enough for you; if you listen properly, doesn’t it drown out all your “with what” questions?
“I will be with you” – that means you are not asked to do this with any other help. It is I who have called you; I will be with you; I shall be doing it too. Do you hear that, Gideon of yesterday and today?
God has called you, and that is enough. Do you hear that, individual doubting Christian, asking and doubting Christian? God has plans for you, and that does mean you.
Be ready to see to it. Never forget, even when your own powerlessness is grinding you down to the ground, that God has phenomenal, immeasurable, great plans for you. I will be with you.’ [v]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is someone I’d heard of, yet never read with any serious interest until I started college. Since then I have made inroads into understanding his life, theology and influences.

Most Christians who’ve heard of Bonhoeffer might only know him as a an obscure martyr; others will be able to match the name in more detail with the context and images of an era when Europe was consumed by an industrial military complex, imposing new cultural laws, issuing forth blitzkrieg, euthanasia, and mass murder; inciting euphoria through the progeny of Darwinian Socialism, the false doctrines of Nazi dogma.

The latter was swarming the globe, enraging some, and finding recruits in others. All through the promise of a new dawn for humanity – one embossed in the appearance of allegiance with Christianity, when instead it was firmly based on the survival of the fittest, racial supremacy, socialism, scientism, and pagan religion.

Faced with the uncertainty of the times, Bonhoeffer reaches for a tangible example from the Biblical text.

Some of us may find the times confusing. Some are frustrated, and feel powerless in the face of new industries built up around victimhood. Those of us in this category, who have a decent amount of knowledge of history, also lament at how those new victimhood industries are fast reflecting the old.

The truth is that we are witnessing a new wave of organized chaos that has to some degree breached walls where restraint has remained the stalwart of freedom. We are dragged into a fight for freedom and the Western world. A battle that must now be fought, but one we didn’t desire, nor ask for.

In the midst of this, Bonhoeffer and Gideon’s story speaks, reminding us to carry this burden without compromise, to maintain Christ-like integrity in the heat of battle, with the knowledge that though the enemy calls our faith weakness, God calls it strength. He still reigns, and we must trust that He, in His mercy will provide the means to address the challenges of today, and the challenges of tomorrow.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – (Philippians 4:6, ESV)


References:

[i] Best, I. (Ed.) 2012 The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer Fortress Press, p.67

[ii] Veith, G. E. 2010. The Spirituality of the Cross, Concordia Publishing House

[iii] Rasmussen, L in The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer, Isabel Best, (Ed.) 2012  Fortress Press, p.67

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid, pp.67-74 & Stroud, D.G. (Ed.) Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich  Wm.B Eerdmans Press, pp.51-61

An updated version of Gideon Speaks & Sounds Just The Same Today As He Did Then  from September 24, 2014.

First published on Caldron Pool, 5th November, 2019.

Photo by Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019.

Last month I was a guest on an Ever Vigilant podcast. Joe Prim and I discussed the importance of political theology in regards to Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the historical parallels relevant to us today.

Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are well positioned to be our guide now, and through a very real darkness, should that darkness engulf Western Civilisation entirely.

Links to said podcast:

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Freedom of the press requires a societal framework that empowers free speech. So it’s rare to witness the Australian media unite together in order to tear down an Australian politician for speaking his mind.

However, what most in the Australian media expressed to the world in their dealings with Fraser Anning this week, is that free speech is only available to a select, and authorized few.

It would appear that Senator Fraser Anning’s biggest sin wasn’t his poorly timed press release; but the fact that he spoke out of turn about things that should not concern him. In other words, Anning is not “approved opposition”.

Had Senator Anning been a woman, or someone of minority status, the 17 year old perpetrator, who filmed himself physically assaulting an elected Australian official, would have been toast by now.

He’d have been dragged through the mud, and beaten until he, his friends, his parents and some fifth cousin, in some backwards town (someone, living somewhere, he rarely ever saw), were all forced into admitting he did the wrong thing, and was consequently made to attend mandatory cultural sensitivity “classes”.

Those well acquainted with the globalist media, and the Leftist cult of modern liberalism in general, know this is exactly how it would go down.

Instead, the crime was applauded, the perpetrator hailed a hero, and Senator Anning, was further driven towards the guillotine, by a Leftist lead mob, hell-bent on his destruction.

This same mob, who were right to condemn the premeditated, internet streamed, Eco-fascist terrorist attacks in New Zealand, now seem only too happy to give applause to premeditated, internet streamed, physical assault.

The condemnation of Anning also included ridiculous attacks on the 69 year old Queensland senator for exercising his right defend to himself.

Anning’s reaction was slammed as unbecoming of a statesman, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, saying, ‘the full force of the law should be applied[1] to the Senator – presumably because Anning hit back.

In addition, Seven news ran an online poll which showed significant support for the Senator’s arrest. It also showed a poll which suggested support for, what amounts to the police turning a blind eye to the actions of the assailant.

It doesn’t take a security expert to know that Anning would have a long list of death threats already made against him. Those are bound to make anyone giving a public appearance reason enough for concern for their own personal safety.

Prime Minister’s have a security detail for this very reason.

The largely Leftist controlled media cannot have it one way, then another.

For example, when in July 2010, ‘a 55-year-old small business owner was charged by police for throwing an egg at Julia Gillard in her first visit to WA as Prime Minister.’ (WaToday)

If a 55 year old throwing an egg at an elected politician is considered a crime, why isn’t a 17 year old smashing an egg into the head of a politician treated differently?

None of this has been taken into consideration. Suggesting that thinking rationally about why a high profile politician would defend himself is counter-productive to the group-think used to suck in the gullible.

Anning stuffed up with the timing of his press release, but demonizing him, just because he doesn’t hold to the globalist views of most in the elitist Australian media, is opportunistic.

The same can be said for not showing any level of fairness, or understanding. It feeds the self-interest of Anning’s enemies, to selectively use some of Anning’s points to further build the “white supremacist” narrative they appear to be determined to construct, not just around Anning, but everyone who doesn’t side with them.

This determination to link what happened in the New Zealand with everyone not of the Left was exemplified by the violent mistreatment of Pauline Hanson[2], when she was interviewed on Sunrise, by David Koch and Darryn Hinch. Yet, there was no outrage from the usual quarters, accusing Koch and Hinch of “mansplaining”, “toxic masculinity” or “misogyny”.

Qantas joining the press posse[3] looking to lynch Anning only goes to prove my point. Qantas management jumping on the virtue-signaling bandwagon, are doing so because they see a profit in capitalizing on a shell-shocked and angry public. Adding the Australian corporation to the list of globalist voices trying to not only to somehow link Fraser Anning to the New Zealand shooting, but label him a terrorist, gets them publicity. Cui Bono? (Who benefits?)

Don’t miss the irony. Carrying out a premeditated act of violence is a crime. Whether it be committed via egg or gun; dismissing the former, gives quiet approval to the latter. It’s hypocritical to laugh at the former. Then condemn the latter.

If the media and celebrities can get away with their attempt to destroy Fraser Anning, and get away with justifying the actual crime committed against him, don’t think they wouldn’t do the same to you.

As warned by ex-leftist, turned Conservative Philosopher, Roger Scruton,

‘Once again I was forced to acknowledge that crimes committed on the Left are not really crimes, and in any case those who excuse them or pass over them in silence always have the best motives for doing so […] From the beginning, labels were required that would stigmatize the enemies [of the Communist movement] within and justify their expulsion […] The success of those labels in marginalizing and condemning the opponent fortified the communist conviction that you could change reality by changing words […]The purpose of communist Newspeak, has been to protect ideology from the malicious attacks of real things.’[4]

For Leftism to gain total control, it requires Leftists to seek the total destruction of anything not of the Left. Any crime or injustice committed, by the Left, in the process of achieving this, is not considered to be unjust or a crime. It’s simply a means to an end, and the end justifies the means.

Anning isn’t completely innocent. He often appears reactionary, not all that unlike the late, Bruce Ruxton. Is there a place for some of Anning’s points, absolutely! Is there a place for hotheaded, reactionary politicians, no.

One of Anning’s strengths, however, is that he is no mediocre politician. He doesn’t come off as self-serving, and he has the balls to say what many think; or are concerned about, but fear speaking. He can do better and should aim to do better.

However, given the activism, diatribes and vitriolic standards set by Leftism, will the Leftist dominated society we now live in, take notice of anyone else? They haven’t so far. And they’ve successfully silenced those who have sought to dialogue with the Left on fair terms.

When you send smart delegates into a diplomatic meeting between two camps, and one camp all-but executes the other, the time for “niceness” is probably at an end. A new strategy of diplomacy and communication needs to be applied.

I don’t condone all of Anning’s words, or approve of the timing of them, but when is the right time to discuss the discomfort many Australians feel about having new cultural laws imposed upon them?

The Leftist doesn’t want coexistence, they are out to destroy, control and dominate. Not just the Right, but the traditional Left as well. It’s unjust, naive and senseless, to sit back and let that happen.

If that means not beating about the bush with the truth, and hurting a few feelings in the process, so be it.

We all would benefit from keeping in mind the words of Margaret Thatcher in her 1984 address to the United States Congress:

“Let us not forget the 1930’s […] from good intentions can come disastrous results.”

Appeasement only serves those being appeased. It rarely serves those doing the appeasing.

We would also benefit from keeping in mind the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said,

‘the ultimate possible rebellion, is that the lie [of the serpent] portrays the truth as a lie. That is the abyss that underlies the lie—that it lives because it poses as the truth and condemns the truth as a lie [and we fall for it].’[5]

This is the dark precipice we are being guided towards by many of our leaders. It’s a precipice that few will survive, if the socio-political trends of the past two decades are allowed to continue, unchallenged and uncorrected.

In the process of pushing back against this, may we ALL be drawn back towards the words of Jesus Christ, as he lowered himself in the defense of a woman facing a Pharisaic death squad, “let he who is without sin, throw the first stone” (John 8:7, ESV).


References:

[1] Paul Karp, The Guardian, 17th March 2019

[2] Pauline Hanson’s Official Facebook page sourced 19th March 2019

[3] As reported by Radio FiveAA, and the Australian, 18th  March 2019

[4] Roger Scruton, 2015. On Marxist Newspeak in Fools, Frauds & Firebrands Bloomsbury Publishing

[5] Bonhoeffer, D 1937, Creation & Fall, Fortress Press (pp.109-116)

(Originally published on Caldron Pool, 19th March 2019)

Photo ‘Chains’, by John Salvino on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Some time ago I took up a detailed exchange on twitter with a lady who had proudly stated that she was cutting out “hate the sin” from the phrase, ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’.  She was happily proclaiming her decision to stick with ‘’love the sinner’’ because this was apparently more biblical.

Her post won her a few retweets and likes, but I disagreed and gave good reasons for doing so. The biblical imperatives such as: “Let love be genuine, abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9) mean that there is a distinction between love for the sinner and sin. To remove the “hate the sin” clause is to leave too much room for  “love the sinner” to easily become “ignore the sin” or worse “love the sin as much as the sinner”.

The distinction between loving the sinner and hating the sin, is at the very core of Jesus Christ’s reconciliation of humanity with God. Without a separation  between sin and sinner grounded in God’s act in Jesus Christ, there can only be a further separation of the sinner from God. For sin separates the sinner from the Sinless. Only in Jesus Christ can the sinner be freed from sin and reconciled to God.

In a rebuttal to my response, an academic (I presume a theologian) proudly stepped in. He then decided to lecture me on the error of my ways.

In response, I brought up Bonhoeffer:

‘Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners! But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, as sacrifice, a work; he wants you alone.  You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him […] He wants to be gracious to you. You can dare to be a sinner [dare to be who you really are before God; a sinner]. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but Hates the sin.’ (Confession & Communion, Life Together, 1954)

My interlocutor huffed with pride. He said that he’d read everything of Bonhoeffer’s work and was sure that Bonhoeffer had never used the phrase. So I provided page, date, book title, chapter and verse. Then pointed out, “loving the sinner, hating the sin” isn’t something Bonhoeffer spoke as a one off. Bonhoeffer had also included it in The Cost of Discipleship,

‘May we be enabled to say ‘No’ to sin and ‘Yes’ to the sinner. May we withstand our foes, and yet hold out to them the Word of the gospel which woos and wins the souls of men.’ (p.xxxiv)

After I provided the reference which proved him wrong, he dismissed my thoughts and ended his correspondence. The lady maintained her position. Then had to have the last word by tweeting at me her reasons for doing so.

It will not make me popular, (because it didn’t) but standing by the exegetical accuracy of Bonhoeffer’s statements on the issue, is far safer ground than building an unbiblical ethic around subjective human ideas of God. Standing on what, where and in whom God reveals himself, is far safer ground than making deceptive theological statements which repaints Christianity as solely being about an ethic of “niceness”.

I’ll end this with Reinhold Niebuhr, who very aptly hinted at the same thing when he wrote:

‘A position of detachment destroys our responsibilities in life’s controversies for the sake of avoiding sinful corruptions of those responsibilities. We ought to be angry when wrong is done; but we must learn the difficult art of being angry without sinning.’
(R.Niebuhr, Discerning The Signs of the Times.)

References:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D. 1954. Life Together, HarperCollins Publishers

[ii] Bonhoeffer, D. 1934. Cost of Discipleship, SCM Press

[iii] Niebuhr, R. 1946. Discerning the Signs of the Times 

Artwork: John Martin, 1840 ‘Calvary’ 

My daughter, who has been homeschooled for the majority of her education, is doing her higher school certificate this year and she’s starting to feel the pressure. In fact, we all are. In passing one day, I randomly encouraged her to “be like Maverick and engage.” Understanding the context of the reference, she smiled back.

As I am known to do from time to time, I started to think a bit deeper about the meaning of those words.

At the end of Top Gun (1986), Maverick sits waiting as back-up. He’s in an F-14, waiting as “ready-five” or ”ready-alert“, things don’t go well for the team and he’s then called into the fight. Once he gets there, he wavers. At this point in time he has a choice whether to engage or disengage. He chooses to engage.

Another example from 1986 comes from the film ‘Iron Eagle‘. When retired Air Force Colonel, Chappy Sinclair chooses to engage with the rescue of a friend, who is being held as a P.O.W. Sinclair chooses to help his friend’s son pilot an F-16 into a war zone. His most memorable words were:

“God doesn’t give people talents that he doesn’t want people to use. And he gave you The Touch. It’s a power inside of you, down there where you keep your guts boy! It’s all you need to blast your way in and get back what they took from you.” (I.E, 1986)

Although Maverick (Pete Mitchell – Tom Cruise) and Chappy (Louis Gossett Jr.) are fictional characters, there are sound examples throughout history of men and women, who were called into the fight.

One of those was Winston Churchill. At the age of 65, after many years of being dismissed for his warnings about the state of the world, he was called into the fight. He had the same choice as Maverick and Chappy. Engage or disengage. He chose to engage.

If you’re feeling the pressure today, and no doubt you will, because all of us do, remember these examples. Remember that God did not waver when He created you. He freely and decisively chose to engage in life with you, that you may freely and decisively engage in life with him.[i]

You have a God-given, grace enabled freedom, and you are called upon by God to live that out. Engage in life with Him through Jesus Christ, and engage in life with others. This freedom comes with responsibility; His grace confronts us with a choice. We choose daily, whether to invite God into our decisions, and be for others or for ourselves. That choice can be tough. Faith can be tough.

But we don’t put our faith in our circumstances. We don’t put our faith in faith. We put our faith in God, learning from that which He has given and anticipating where He will guide us, based on what He’s given and already done in the past for us. We have a history with God, even if we don’t want to acknowledge it. We are summoned to ‘trust in the Lord with all our heart, [to] lean not on our own understanding, [to] submit all things to Him, and he will make our paths straight.’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).

One of the other great historical examples comes from theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He reminds us of the choice to engage, while when in a Nazi prison, he wrote:

‘In me it is dark, but with you there is light.
I am lonely, but you do not abandon me.
I am faint-hearted, but from you comes my help.
I am restless, but with you is peace.
In me is bitterness, but with you is patience.
I do not understand your ways, but you know the right way for me.’ [ii]

 

So whatever we might meet in the coming day, be like Maverick and engage. Be like Churchill and engage. Be like Bonhoeffer and engage. Ultimately, be like Christ and engage. Stand with Christ and engage. They could have chosen differently, refused the fight, and disengaged entirely, but they chose not to. As a result, we are confronted by their example.

de Vivre Selon Dieu


References:

[i] In this statement, I’m drawing from Karl Barth.

[ii] Bonhoeffer, D. BDW:8, Letters & Papers From Prison, Fortress Press (p.195)

Image: Iron Eagle,  Sidney J. Furie, Tri-Star Pictures, 1986 (Use of this image is considered to be within the boundaries of fair use, given that the image is applied here, for the use of teaching, and comment in a not-for-profit context, and it contains clear credit and promotion of the film as a whole.)