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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The call of discipleship

For Bonhoeffer, it meant following Jesus wherever he leads

Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived in a world of nearly unimaginable cruelty, deceit and violence. Its very name—Nazi Germany—often functions as a synonym for evil. What more unlikely context can we imagine for the flourishing and deepening of Christian discipleship? Indeed, for many Christian people and communities in 1930s Germany, the Nazi regime did prove toxic to discipleship as bishops, pastors, theologians and entire congregations fell under Adolf Hitler’s charismatic sway.

Isn’t Germany a Christian nation? And so mustn’t God want whatever is good for Germany? And isn’t Hitler good for Germany, bringing hope and purpose to the beleaguered people? So went the logic for those who chose not to look hard beneath the surface of Hitler’s leadership.


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