In January, I read Eric Metaxas’s excellent biography: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I must say it was a “page turner.” Bonhoeffer grew up and served as a pastor at the time of the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Third Riche.
In the context of the Nazi’s increasing attacks on the Jews of Europe, Bonhoeffer articulated three ways the church is to act towards the state. The church was first, to challenge the policies and actions of the state, calling the state to act as God intended, and second, to aid the victims of the state’s actions, those being persecuted. Thirdly, Bonhoeffer believed the church “has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community.”
Expounding on the third point, Bonhoeffer explained that the church is to “not just to bandage the victims under the wheel but to put a spoke in the wheel itself.” In other words, to bind up the wounds of the victims of the state and to do what it can to stop state crimes against humanity.
An example in U.S. history is the Civil Rights movement using peaceful protests to disrupt the state’s policies related to racism and the cultural residue of slavery.
While I was reading Bonhoeffer, the U.S. press was exposing the exploits of an American abortionist. Dr. Kermit Gosnell was being charged with the death of one mother and seven babies whom he killed and dismembered with scissors after they were born. The parallels between Gosnell’s “medical work” in a modern U.S. city and the “work” of the Nazi doctors in the German death camps was jarring.
In Nazi Germany, medical doctors were employed in hideous experimentations (read torture) on living human beings, including the infamous gas chambers and death camps. The genocide in Germany began with the Nazi policy of murdering newborn babies with physical or medical handicaps. They were deemed as having life unworthy of life. It was German medical doctors that, at best, turned their backs on the holocaust. At worst, doctors were the leaders in justifying and carrying out these abominable practices.
The Guttmacher Institute, research arm of Planned Parenthood and the American abortion industry, records an average of 1.2 million babies being aborted each year in the United States. Over 1,000 of those are late term abortions that kill babies who could survive outside the womb.
How is it that this genocidal practice is legal in the United States? It is really quite simple; the same culture of death that grew in the soul of Germany 70 years ago is growing in the United States today. A nation built on atheistic-materialistic premises permits the murder of 6 million Jews in German or 1.2 million babies a year in the United States. The Holocaust of the Jews and the feticide of the unborn are cut from the same moral and metaphysical cloth.
Where were the institutions tasked with overseeing Dr. Gosnell’s practice? They turned a blind eye. As did most people in the Philadelphia neighborhood where Dr. Gosnell carried out his diabolical work.
Are we in America, so enamored by our toys, so caught up in our comfortable lifestyles, that there is little place in our conscience for the death march of 1,200,000 babies a year and the suffering of their mothers? What must those who profess the name of Christ do, not only to minister to those women who may find themselves in an “unwanted pregnancy” but also to jam the spoke in the wheel of governmental practice of legalizing the murder of newborn and unborn children?
May the life, courage, and self-sacrifice of Dietrich Bonhoeffer enflame the church today!
– Darrow Miller