He played the conservatives

Two days after Adolf Hitler became Germany’s chancellor in 1933, Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave a radio address, in which he said: “If the leader tries to become the idol … then the image of the leader shifts to one of a mis-leader. Then the leader is acting improperly….The radio station silenced his microphone in mid-speech. Bonhoeffer later joined the Hitler resistance and it cost him his life.

Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, was interviewed by Glenn Beck in 2010. Here’s part of what Metaxas said:

Metaxas: “So, he plays — I mean, this is the danger, when you have a nation that is sort of Christian in a very surfacey way … you’re very susceptible.

“So, Hitler … plays the conservatives. He basically says … I’m against the communists, I’m for values, and so on and so forth.

“And so, he speaks, he talks the talk, but he is fundamentally opposed to actual Christianity. But he hides it…. If he revealed it, he loses everything.”

Beck: “When did Bonhoeffer first figure him out? Because he was the first guy from the beginning, right?”

Metaxas: “Yes. From day one … Bonhoeffer’s father was a scientist. And the whole Bonhoeffer family was trained to think rigorously. They were not able to be fooled. …

“…. So, number one, Bonhoeffer thinks very clearly. Number two, his family was very well-connected in social circles in Berlin, so they knew people who were in the know.

“And they knew before Hitler became chancellor who he was. That he’s a vulgar, fundamentally anti-German, anti-Christian narcissist.”

Tomorrow, we’ll conclude our brief look at Bonhoeffer with his classic little book, Life Together.


3 thoughts on “He played the conservatives”

    1. Thank you for your comment, Kathy. In the interview, Beck implies that liberals see Bonhoeffer as a social activist. That’s a large over-simplification. I went to a seminary most people would view as liberal, and while he certainly was an activist against Hitler, he was generally aligned with the conservative theologian Karl Barth. I think Beck saw the interview as a chance to take a dig at Jim Wallis, with whom he was having a feud. Apart from labels, ideologies and feuds, I thought the conversation about Bonhoeffer was generally on target. I was amazed that a 9-year-old interview about a theologian who died 74 years ago could be so relevant for today. Blessings!


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