Join us at Noon, Thursday Jan. 22 for the 2009 March For Life, with guest Eric Metaxas, who will talk about anti-slavery crusader William Wilberforce and anti-Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
2009 SPEAKER: BIOGRAPHER ERIC METAXAS
Eric Metaxas wrote the book which inspired the movie “Amazing Grace,” about anti-slavery crusader William Wilberforce.
The 2009 CRTL March for Life, on Jan. 22, will feature biographer Eric Metaxas, who will talk about his past book, Amazing Grace (which was later turned into a major motion picture most of you probably saw), and also about his upcoming biography about German Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Eric will have books available for purchase, as well as a book signing after his speech.
Christians are not proud of the predominant behavior of German Christians during the Nazi era — silence, acquiescence, collaboration — but some sterling examples of heroism stand out. Many Christians, certainly, lacked the courage to speak against Hitler, or even came to believe he spoke truth because their pastors would not speak against him. Hitler used a heretical theology based on fantasy which turned Jesus into a Jew-hater, and then used the power of the Nazi government to force many German churches to form a united German church not unlike the government-sanctioned churches in China (in concept, if not by degree).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of a number of prominent Christian leaders who wouldn’t go along. They formed the "Confessing Church," and intended for it to follow Christ in every way where His teachings diverged from the Nazi government. It was the boldest of these confessing Christians who resisted the Nazis and hid Jews in their attics or basements. Unfortunately, as the most outspoken leaders were arrested, and as the government’s grip of fear intimidated pastors and churchgoers, even these churches remained mostly quiet in their resistance through the worst abuses of the Nazis.
Bonhoeffer was one of those bold Christians who did stand up. He ran a seminary, where he taught true Christianity, and spoke out against the Nazis, even so far as to condemn the official anti-semitism as unChristian. He was eventually banned from teaching, and later from any kind of public speaking. Through much of that time, he cooperated with the anti-Nazi resistance within Germany, even after the war had begun.
The anti-Nazi activism he involved himself in wasn’t limited to hiding or transporting Jews to safety. He joined a plot to kill Hitler, which included some of the top leaders of Germany. He was arrested and imprisoned twice, first for helping smuggle Jews, and later when the failed plot to kill Hitler was uncovered in 1944. After spending his last days in a concentration camp, he was cruelly executed by hanging just weeks before the end of the war.
Bonhoeffer lives on in Heaven, of course, but also as an inspiration to all those Christians who would stand up against evil, rather than hiding quietly while injustice abounds.
William Wilberforce, was discussed not long ago, on these pages, in an article about whether he is proof that incremental laws work, or rather stands as proof of just the opposite. If you missed that article, it is available on the Colorado Right to Life Blog, at http://www.coloradorighttolife.blogspot.com/ (search for Wilberforce).
Wilberforce is another hero of the faith, for his dogged persistence and perseverance in fighting against first the slave trade in the British Empire, and later against slavery in general. From his earliest speeches, it’s clear he believed that slavery was a moral evil hated by God, and that Black men had a right to be free.
A conversion experience took Wilberforce from being a skeptical Christian to a life of devotion and passion. He expressed his Christianity by adopting the mission of freeing the slaves. Early on, partly because of his friendship with William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister, Wilberforce saw some success in trying to end the slave trade. But opponents stymied his efforts, and the Napoleonic Wars further frustrated him. He turned to incrementalism for a while, but later grew discouraged that further success did not seem to follow those moves. Ultimately, he returned to pushing for absolute abolition, and in that he saw success. He even recommended a strategy of absolute abolition for the United States, where American abolitionists had instead been pursuing incremental laws.
Today, we Christians look back to both of these men of faith for inspiration. They followed God’s law, not man’s. So should we all.