Saturday, May 10, 2008

The UMC's Newest Saint

In further reflections about General Conference tonight, I remembered a big event that I have failed to mention on here elsewhere.

Petition 80110
, which passed without hesitation on the floor of the plenary.

Yes, friends - The United Methodist Church has virtually canonized Dietrich Bonhoeffer, haha. The petition reads:
Recognition of Bonhoeffer
In keeping in line with the Church of England and the Church of Wales, we, as United Methodists, should also recognize Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a modern day martyr for the cause of Christ.
Rationale: During a time of grave darkness in Nazi Germany, Bonhoeffer shined the light of Christ all the way to a hangman’s noose. Nearly every clergy has studied him and used him in sermons and theological discourse. It is time we recognize his accomplishments and martyrdom of the highest calling.
There has never been doubt that we loved Bonhoeffer. Now its official!!! I LOVE it!


Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) said...

so teach me some ethics: was his decision to join the attempted assasination of Hitler a good act? And should I be seeking to follow suit with, for example, Robert Mugabe?

Jen Tyler said...

We both recognize that there were great wrongs that Bonhoeffer took part in. As a pacifist myself, I would never argue it ethical to take part in any such attempt.

However, I have a great deal of respect for Bonhoeffer as a theologian and leader of the church for other things he said, wrote, and did. Ultimately, his arrest and eventual miserable death came as a result of funds traced back to him. Funds traced to him through this conspiracy group, yes, but funds that were, more specifically, being used for helping Jews to escape Switzerland.

Its sticky, to be sure. And I will admit without hesitation that I surely have a lot yet to learn from and about him, as I've only begun to work my way through his writings. Is joining an assassination group an ethical act, ever? No. Is joining a resistance group to help shift power away from someone like Hitler, Botha, or Mugabe? Yes. Bonhoeffer sought to have voice in many groups seeking to do this: as a leader of the Confessing Church, for example. He sought to have voice in various other groups as well, including through behind-the-scenes participation in groups (such as the said assassination group) who were helping Jews to escape or hide in the interim.

I would not support the ultimate goal of the attempted assassination of Hitler. But I would argue that the importance of other work they did in the interim is hard to deny.