Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Fool's Errand

But while Bonhoeffer was trying to wake up the German Church to stand boldly and decisively against the Nazis, another Christian was taking a different tack. Frank Buchman was a prominent American evangelical who headed up something called the Oxford Movement. He hoped to convert Hitler and the other top Nazis to the Christian faith, believing that this would solve everything.

Bonhoeffer knew that Buchman's goal was laudable in principle, but in reality it was a fool's errand. Buchman failed to discern the times in which he was living. While he was trying to arrange lunches to talk with Himmler about Jesus, the very liberties that made it possible to preach the Gospel in Germany were brutally being kicked down the stairs and out the door.

But Buchman's idea is alive and well in America today. One often hears Christians say that they don't want to get involved in political or cultural battles; they just want to "preach the Gospel." They think that by avoiding political and cultural battles they will retain the credibility necessary to be effective in preaching the Gospel.

But according to Bonhoeffer, this is tragically mistaken. If your ability to speak the truth is itself under attack -- if you cannot say that certain sexual behavior is wrong, or that taking unborn life is wrong -- your ability to be a Christian is itself under attack. The Gospel you will be preaching has been fatally compromised.

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