I recently finished an entire class on the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German pastor and theologian during the rise of Hitler and National Socialism in Germany. As a pacifist, he later joined a plot to assassinate Hitler. As you might imagine, there are lots of complexities to all of this and we have numerous books he wrote to unpack his thinking along the way. One of my favorites is his book Ethics. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions in this book but I find his arguments intriguing and worth spending time considering. Some of his comments in the book even seem to help us understand the rise of guys like Donald Trump (see: The Successful Man).
Ethics gets into the gray area between right and wrong and looks at the complexities of how to live out our faith in the midst of trying times. Bonhoeffer didn’t argue that it was okay to kill Hitler because Hitler was extra evil. Rather, he argued that he willingly assumed guilt for his part in the assassination attempt because assuming this guilt on behalf of others was ultimately the right thing to do. Parts of the book can get a bit theologically dense, so the following are a few of my favorite quotes from the book to give you a feel for it. I group them into four categories: Jesus, assuming guilt, the will of God, and general thoughts.