Why the righteous resist? : towards understanding Dietrich Bonhoeffer's resistance

Lak, Marizanne Zoe (2013-03)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Although Bonhoeffer is hailed by some as a type of Protestant saint, there is certainly also a plea for the realisation of the paradox in his story; Bonhoeffer consciously associated himself with a plot against the life of another man. What lead this young theologian, known for pacifistic ideals and full of promise, to participate in such a violent plot? How did Bonhoeffer, and the scholars who studied his life and work, justify his decision? How should we, as theologians and Christians in the twenty-first century, attempt to understand Bonhoeffer’s resistance and its relevance for us today? According to Bonhoeffer himself: “Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its apologia for the weak. I feel that Christianity is rather doing too little in showing these points than too much. Christianity has adjusted itself to the worship of power. It should give much more offence, more shock to the world, than it is doing. Christianity should take a much more definite stand for the weak than to consider the potential moral right of the strong.” (Bonhoeffer, DBWE Vol 13, 2007:403) By outlining the life of Bonhoeffer and selectively focusing on his resistance with both theological and sociological lenses, aided by his own writings, as well as the work of Bethge, Mataxas, Schlingensiepen, Rogers and an array of other authors, this thesis attempts to move towards understanding this remarkable man’s steadfast struggle to not sit passively in the midst of the reign of the Third Reich in Germany and be blinded to the inhumane treatment of fellow Germans, regardless of their race or religion.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Alhoewel Bonhoeffer deur sommige as ‘n soort Protestante heilige beskou word, is daar verseker ook ‘n pleidooi vir die besef van die teenstrydigheid in sy verhaal; Bonhoeffer het homself bewustelik geassosieer met ‘n komplot om die lewe van ‘n ander man te beeïndig. Wat het aanleiding gegee dat hierdie jong teoloog, bekend vir sy pasifistiese ideale en potensiaal, in so ‘n geweldadige komplot betrokke geraak het? Hoe het Bonhoeffer, en die geleerdes wat sy lewe en werk bestudeer het, sy besluit regverdig? Hoe sou ons, as teoloë en Christene in die een-en-twintigste eeu, Bonhoeffer se verset en die relevansie daarvan vir ons lewe vandag verstaan? Bonhoeffer sê self: “Die Christendom staan of val met die revolusionêre protes teen geweld, willekeur en magstrots, en met sy voorspraak vir die swakkes. Ek voel dat die Christendom eerder te min as te veel doen om hierdie aspekte te weerspieël. Die Christendom het tot die aanbidding van mag aangepas. Dit moet baie meer aanstoot gee, die wêreld meer skok, as wat dit tans doen. Die Christendom moet ‘n baie meer defnitiewe standpunt vir die swakkes inneem, eerder as om die potensiële morele reg van die sterkes te beskerm.” (Bonhoeffer, DBWE Vol 13, 2007:403) Deur Bonhoeffer se lewe uit te lê en selektief, met beide teologiese en sosiologiese lense, op sy verset te fokus, bygestaan deur sy eie geskrifte, asook die werk van Bethge, Mataxas, Schlingensiepen, Rogers en ‘n verskeidenheid ander outeurs, poog hierdie tesis om tot ‘n verstaan te kom van hierdie merkwaardige man se standvastige stryd om nie slegs passief tydens die strikbewind van die Derde Ryk te bly nie, maar ook om nie blind vir die onmenslike behandeling van mede-Duitsers nie, ongeag hulle ras of godsdiens, te wees nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/79977
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