While I was home in San Diego recently, I was sharply reminded that my brother and I are the only two people in our extended family who don't support him, and the defense of him was always the same: "What were we supposed to do, vote for Hillary??" Sometimes in life, when you're presented with awful choices, the best response is to simply reject the question. While many decry third party voting as a "wasted vote," it's important to remember that Abraham Lincoln was the first Third Party candidate in history to become President of the United States, and in doing so he transformed the Republican party from a bunch of unknown losers into a major political force.
Also while I was home recently, I had the opportunity to revisit my home church which I was raised in. While it is always a pleasure to see many familiar and beloved faces, it's also mildly discouraging to me to see that absolutely nothing has changed. I've been very blessed and fortunate for the last four years to be part of a church which is deadly serious about making sure their theology is Biblically sound, and that their parishioners are all well-versed in it. Going back to a place where the Gospel is merely a hood ornament on a neo-conservative, pro-Israel agenda reminds me why I stopped going to contemporary (as opposed to Reformed) churches altogether.
As early as 1932, a young German minister and theologian by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer began to see the rising threat of Nazism in his country as an existential threat to the Church. While the Nazi party was able to secure the endorsement of a large portion of the German churches in exchange for promised rewards which were never delivered, Bonhoeffer took to the airwaves and the pulpits around Europe to denounce their cult of personality and their war-hawk rhetoric. Since his brother-in-law was Jewish, Bonhoeffer tried initially during the persecutions to smuggle Jews out of Germany, but eventually came to the realization that more direct action was necessary. He eventually became a co-conspirator in one of the numerous plots against Hitler's life, but like so many others, he was discovered and imprisoned prior to its execution. He died in a concentration camp days before it was liberated by the Allies.
One of Bonhoeffer's earliest condemnations of the Nazis was a speech he delivered at an ecumenical conference in Switzerland, entitled "The Church is Dead"
The unbelieving world says: the church is dead; let us celebrate its funeral with speeches and conferences and resolutions, which all do it honor. The unbelieving world, full of pious illusions, says: the church is not dead; it is only weak, and we will serve it with all our might and put it on its feet again. Only goodwill can do that; let us make a new morality.
The believer says: the church lives in the midst of death, only because God calls it from death to life, because God does the impossible toward us and through us-so would we all say. . . .
In all that we say and do we are concerned with nothing but Christ and his honor among people. Let no one think that we are concerned with our own cause, with a particular view of the world, a definite theology or even with the honor of the church. We are concerned with Christ and nothing else. Let Christ be Christ.
We come together to hear Christ. Have we heard him? I can only put the question all persons must answer for themselves. But I will say at least this: Is it not precisely the significance of these conferences that where someone approaches us appearing so utterly strange and incomprehensible in his or her concerns and yet demands a hearing of us, we perceive in the voice of our brother or sister the voice of Christ himself, and do not evade this voice, but take it quite seriously and listen and love the other precisely in his strangeness? We encounter each other in all openness and truthfulness and need, and claims the attention of others is the sole way in which Christ encounters us at such a conference. We are here and we are joined together not as the community of those who know, but of those who all look for the Word of their Lord and seek everywhere if they cannot hear it, not as those who know, but as those who seek, those who are hungry, those who wait, those who are in need, those who hope. Christ encounters us in our brother and sister, in the English, the French, the German. . . .
The World Alliance is the community of those who would hearken to the Lord as they cry fearfully to their lord in the world and in the night, and as they mean not to escape from the world, but to hear in it the call of Christ in faith and obedience, and as they know themselves responsible to the world through this call. It is not the organ of church action, grown weary of meditating upon the Word of God, but it is the church which knows of the sinfulness of the world and of Christianity, which expects all good things from God, and which would be obedient to this God in the world.
Why does the community of brothers and sisters as it is shown forth in the World Alliance have fear in the church of Christ? Because it knows of the command for peace and yet with the open eyes which are given to the church sees reality dominated by hate, enmity, and power. It is as though all the powers of the world had conspired together against peace; money, business, the lust for power, indeed even love for the fatherland have been pressed into the service of hate. Hate of nations, hate of people against their own countrymen. It is already flaring up here and there-what are the events in the Far East and in South America but a proof that all human ties are dissolving to nothing, that there is no fear of anything where the passion of hate is nourished and breaks out? Events are coming to a head more terribly than ever before-millions hungry, people with cruelly deferred and unfulfilled wishes, desperate men who have nothing to lose but their lives and will lose nothing in losing them-humiliated and degraded nations who cannot get over their shame-political extreme against political extreme, fanatic against fanatic, idol against idol, and behind it all a world which bristles with weapons as never before, a world which feverishly arms to guarantee peace through arming, a world whose idol has become the word security-a world without sacrifice, full of mistrust and suspicion, because past fears are still with it-a humanity which trembles at itself, a humanity which is not sure of itself and is ready at any time to lay violent hands on itself-how can one close one’s eyes at the fact that the demons themselves have taken over the rule of the world, that it is the powers of darkness who have here made an awful conspiracy and could break out at any moment?-How could one think that these demons could be driven out, these powers annihilated with a bit of education in international understanding, with a bit of goodwill? . . .
Christ must become present to us in preaching and in the sacraments just as in being the crucified one he has made peace with God and with humanity. The crucified Christ is our peace. He alone exorcizes the idols and the demons. The world trembles only before the cross, not before us.
And now the cross enters this world out of joint. Christ is not far from the world, not in a distant region, of our existence. He went into the lowest depths of our world, his cross is in the midst of the world. And this cross of Christ now calls wrath and judgment over the world of hate and proclaims peace. Today there must be no more war-the cross will not have it. People must realize that nothing happens without strife in the world fallen from God, but there must be no war. War in its present form annihilates the creation of God and obscures the sight of revelation. War as a means of struggle can as little be justified from the necessity of struggle as torture as a legal means can be justified from the need for law. The church renounces obedience should it sanction war. The church of Christ stands against war for peace among people, between nations, classes, and races.
But the church also knows that there is no peace unless righteousness and truth are preserved. A peace which does damage to righteousness and truth is no peace, and the church of Christ must protest against such peace. There can be a peace which is worse than struggle. But it must be a struggle out of love for the other, a struggle of the spirit, and not of the flesh.
From A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ed. Geffrey B. Kelly and F. Burton Nelson (Harper San Francisco, 1995), pp. 102-104.