Bonhoeffer and Britain - German theologian and martyr

 One of the most important figures in the European ecumenical movement of the 1930s, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was to suffer tragically at the hands of the Nazi regime, when he was hanged in a concentration camp in Flossenburg in 1945.

Bonhoeffer's journey to this point had given him an academic career through which he became one of the most knowledgeable theologians in both German and English theological thinking.

His opposition to National Socialism in Germany drew him to found the Confessing Church in Germany alongside Martin Niemueller and Karl Barth.

Bonhoeffer and Britain examines in detail the years in 1930s when he made his home in the UK. He took on the pastorate of the German Evangelical Church in Sydenham and the Reformed Church of St Paul in London. At this time he became a close friend of the Anglican bishop George Bell and forged strong links with the ecumenical movement in the country.

Today, a statue in his honour is among the twenty martyrs of the last century situated above the west front entrance of Westminster Abbey.

Bonhoeffer and Britain illuminates an important time in one man's life at a time when personal struggle against the forces of evil was both crucial and dangerous. In Flossenburg the memorial stone commemorating the members of the resistance movement who were murdered is a quotation from 2 Timothy 1:7 sums up their resolution to this struggle: "For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline."

Bonhoeffer and Britain, is published by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland; price 14.99

first posted LONDON - 24 May 2006 - 280 words

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