Sitting in a jail cell awaiting his certain death, Dietrich Bonhoeffer lamented his personal shortcomings and the tragedies of a dark age. "I am guilty of cowardly silence at a time when I ought to have spoken," he wrote in the waning days of World War II. "I am guilty of hypocrisy and untruthfulness in the face of force. I have been lacking in compassion and I have denied the poorest of my brethren. I am guilty of disloyalty and of apostasy from Christ. What does it matter to you whether others are guilty too?"
Certainly this is not the Bonhoeffer we remember and revere today. Yet this remarkable and complex man considered even his life an unworthy sacrifice for the God he loved. A tremendously gifted Lutheran theologian, Bonhoeffer wasn't widely known or honored during his too short life. But in his death, Christians have been challenged by his radical call to discipleship and inspired by his courageous martyrdom at the hands of the Nazis. Now producer and director Martin Doblmeier has translated Bonhoeffer's extraordinary life into an informative and compelling documentary.
The documentary begins with Bonhoeffer's upbringing in a middle class family living just outside Berlin. Not a particularly religious family, his parents reacted with surprise when Bonhoeffer informed them of his intent to enter ministry. In the aftermath of World War I, the German church lacked credibility because of their enthusiastic support for the failed war effort.
While in seminary, Bonhoeffer was heavily influenced by the writings of eminent Swiss theologian Karl Barth. When Bonhoeffer completed his Ph.D. at 21, Barth declared his dissertation "a theological miracle." Soon, however, Hitler's rise to power in Germany overshadowed all else. Doblmeier ...1
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