February 2, 2006
Martin Doblmeier —
Ethics and the Will of God: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose life spanned the rise and fall of Hitler's Germany, offers us a model of personal morality and conscience in the most troubled and immoral of times. His resistance of Nazi ideology, while much of the German church succumbed, is a testament to his moral vision and faith. Krista speaks with producer Martin Doblmeier, whose 2003 documentary chronicled Bonhoeffer's life and thought, about the legacy of this unusual theologian.

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is the writer, director, and producer of the 2003 documentary Bonhoeffer, and is founder and president of Journey Films.

Featured Writings

Letter to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Parents

Read Bonhoeffer's first correspondence with his parents.

Letter to Eberhard Bethge

Letters to his best friend about a religionless society

Letter to Eberhard Bethge- Reflections on Hitler

His state of mind after the attempt on Hitler's life had failed.

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Had I read "Ethics" by Deitrich while I was in the service or after getting out perhaps I would not have wrestled with depression for twenty one years of my life. Being that I was an Operation Specialist UDT/SEALS 3rd Class Petty Officer Instructor and did operations at the very close of Viet Nam and the very beginning against the Khmer rouge in Cambodia & Laos. I can regretfully say I've taken more lives than King David due to 64 in country missions and 110 overflights of dropping bombs and napalm as a recruit for George H.W. Bush for his CIA. I also started out as a Lutheran but converted to being a Messianic Jew when the Lutheran church started gravitating back to Catholism while I was in the service and for the fact that Luther became a proponet for antisemitism...making on wonder if he truly followed Yeshua's teachings "The Sermon on the Mount". I could have gone back to my roots being that on my father's side of the family my great grandfather was a rabbi in the Ukraine on the Polish border, and on my mother's side of the family the German Westphal's. However, I believe ( and more strongly from what I observed of war) that Yeshua is the Christ and Son of G-d. Bonhoeffer reinforced what I had concluded: That you are not a Christian if you do nothing to deter or stop a political regime/tyrant state even if it at the action of taking life. In my mind's eye Deitrich not only showed that Christianity is meanless without action, but he also vindicated Lutheranism.
G-d's grace and blessings upon you.

I share many of the same sentiments as you regarding Bonhoeffer and the equivalence he continually maintains between hearing and doing the will of G-d. I am glad that his vision has given you solace from your depression and has enabled you, as he has me, to continually keep Christ in the apple of your eye - however often I am blinded by my own visions. There is a fascinating graphic novel by Ravi Zacharias that fleshes out some of these themes - and I think the way it portrays the judgment as both Hitler and Bonhoeffer face Jesus in their final judgment brilliantly conveys the grace, mercy and justice of G-d. I am also a Christian Jew, and am glad to know of His power in your life.

Baruch HaShem,


dietrich bonhoeffer "I believe that nothing meaningless has happened to me and also that it is good for us when things run counter to our desires. I see a purpose in my present existence and only hope that I fulfill it" .he believed in Christianity without religion; he was not calling for faithless Christianity but religionless (without ritual) christianity ,he was a passifist who became a nazi resister a man who was rumored about conspiring to assassinate hitler, he was best known for his writtings from prison. bonhoeffer was greatly inspired by the worship in African churches mainly because of the passion in their worship. i believe bonhoeffer made a very good point "when the church is split is Christ himself divided",and "by throwing yourself into the world is throwing yourself into the arms of god". this man was a true man of faith

I really like this story, I mean who wouldnt, this guy stood up for what he believed in, this is a guy who stood up to Hitler thats increadible, this is a man of true faith,he stood against the church

oh hey just a fun fact did you know that the word "protestant" is taken from the word protest meaning to disagree with something

dietrich bonhoffer and his idea of religionless faith really does inspire me, I dont believe that killing someone in the name of god, but from my readings niether did he , even though he had a plot to kill hitler, he saw a menace that needed to be stopped. but anyway back to the point religionless faith, god doesnt want people to just live by the rules,though he does want us to live by the rules that is not all he wants. god wants us to love him enough that we want to fallow the rules, and i think that is what bonhoffer was talking about when he says religionless faith

dietrich bonhoffer protested against the church. the church. that was like a death sentance in those days, and then he tried to come up with a plan to assasinate hitler. who in todays world would have the guts to make a stand for their faith like that? that is very inspirational to me. and how did i not hear about bonhoffer sooner is beyond me. but if you are looking for an example of a true christ fallower look no further

Bonhoeffer was a very personal man, in relation to his thoughts on Christian ethics and God's call on one's life. He believed that Christian ethics were not to be found in the church but in personal relations, discovering what was true and humane. This links very closely to his belief of how God calls His people. He exhorts all believers to take action and think of others before oneself in an act of selflessness. He makes it quite evident that he believes that this is what all Christians are called to do. In terms of personal call. He explains that one must continuously examine the call God has on their life, questioning how God wants you to act in this world. We will never entirely have life figured out, and Bonhoeffer makes that quite clear in his theological writings.
The idea that we must constantly rethink what God wants us to do with our lives really resonates with me. In seeking God's will in my own life I find my call changing quite frequently. Although most times it is rather minuscule, these alterations have impacted me and threw off my understanding. Bonhoeffer's encouragement to believers when he talks about always making yourself open to the will of God lines up with this almost perfectly. God's will is not something that can be clearly defined and that is where faith comes into play. Faith is trusting that God will do what is right for his people and when we comepletly rely on God and stop trying to figure out God's will on our lives then we will find peace. However this peace only comes from knowing that God is always standing with us, despite the obstacles that may come our way.

curious to learn and dig deeper into this person called Jesus.