Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in Hitler’s Wheel?

Roger E. Olson | 8/22/2019 | Staff
KimmyPoo (Posted by) Level 3
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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in Hitler’s Wheel?

Recently here, on this blog, there has been some discussion about the quote often attributed to Bonhoeffer about the Christian’s duty to be or put a “spoke in the wheel” of an unjust government or social order. The quote takes several forms as it gets repeated. But the “gist” of it is that the job of a Christian in relation to an unjust government is to be or put a spoke in the wheel of that government to stop it.

Bonhoeffer - Someone - Bonhoeffer

Here some have questioned whether that quote really goes back to Bonhoeffer or if it was invented by someone later and somehow got attributed to Bonhoeffer.

So, over the past two or three days, I have been doing some research and here is what I have found.

Eberhard - Bethge - Biography - Bonhoeffer - Bonhoeffer

First, in Eberhard Bethge’s magisterial biography of Bonhoeffer he quotes or paraphrases Bonhoeffer talking in private, to him and a few friends, about the conspiracy to kill Hitler and how he, Bonhoeffer, was part of it. Bonhoeffer knew he was part of a conspiracy to kill Hitler. Unless Bethge was making it all up. That’s hardly likely. Bethge was by all accounts Bonhoeffer’s best friend and confidant outside his family (and I supposed besides his fiancée).

According to Bethge Bonhoeffer even offered to shoot Hitler himself, but the other conspirators turned him down. Why am I not providing “chapter and verse?” Because anyone who wants to know anything true about Bonhoeffer’s life needs to read the Bethge biography. In my opinion, no other biography of Bonhoeffer is worth reading if you have not first read Bethge’s.

Point - Use - Copyright - Laws - Publishers

Now, more to the point. I will quote only as much as “fair use” copyright laws allow. According to my publishers that is 300 words although most courts have permitted up to 500 words. In other...
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