Eric Metaxas: Amazing Grace, Dietrich Bonhoeffer & Harlem – Biola University Chapel


[upbeat music]>>I’m not used to that
kind of warm welcome. So tone it down. [audience laughing] No, I’m overwhelmed and deeply blessed. And let me start off by
saying praise the Lord. Yeah, we didn’t used to say
that at Yale assemblies. [audience laughing] Yeah, they stopped doing that
200 years ago, I believe. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah, hallelujah. It is absolutely a joy to be here. It’s monstrously unnerving to see myself talking right there. Am I also up there? Yeah. Actually, I’m literally here,
but I’m being projected there. But if you actually want
to see me, I’m down here. [audience laughing] I know, who cares. This is a virtual world. You can watch me on your iPhone and, you know, just tune out. Do what you need to do. I am not used to such a warm welcome. I feel really blessed and really welcome. Thank you, President Barry Corey. Thank you, Todd Pickett,
for being my friend and bringing me here. An actual friend, not
just a Facebook friend. Although now we’re actual friends too. But it’s incredible. Let’s see. When I hear that
introduction, I realize that even I’m confused by that. Like there’s so much disparate information about writing humorous
stuff and Veggie Tales and then a book on Bonhoeffer. And you know, it says in scripture that the Lord calls us a peculiar people. And I’m specifically a peculiar person. I just want you to know upfront that it’s biblical to be peculiar. And I am peculiar. That’s just who I am. But I have done a lot of
different kinds of things. I don’t try to make
sense of it except to say that Jesus made me. He gave me the gifts that He gave me. And I want to use them for Him. And whatever that looks like,
He’s gotta figure it out. And I can’t figure it out. But I praise Him for everything
He’s allowed me to do. Now in terms of Veggie Tales,
just to be perfectly accurate, I only wrote half of
Lyle, the Kindly Viking. I wrote the Hamlet Omelette parody. [audience laughing] Yes, thank you. You’ve heard of Hamlet then? Excellent, wonderful. Todd Pickett, good job. The one painful glaring ellipsis President Corey neglected to mention that I am the voice of the narrator on the Esther video. Aren’t you glad? [audience applauding and cheering] I didn’t expect you to
cheer, but thank you. It’s kind of bizarre because you realize that it’s a vegetable universe, right? Logically speaking, the narrator, even though he’s off screen, must be a vegetable because everyone in that universe is a vegetable. So I’m a non-pictured vegetable. I don’t know what that means. It’s kind of like being Marilyn Munster. Like you’re a Munster
but you’re not a Munster. I know I have to be some
kind of a vegetable. I can’t be a generic vegetable. But I don’t know what
kind of vegetable I was. I believe I was a broccoli rabe. You can listen to it and see for yourself whether I sound like a broccoli rabe. I think that’s who I
was, but I don’t know. So I’m just saying up front I don’t know. [audience laughing] But it was a privilege
working for Veggie Tales. But that’s not what led me to
write the book on Bonhoeffer which I think you already
figured out, right? [audience laughing] You know, I should mention
this ’cause most of you guys you’re not kids any more. Although when you get into your late 40s, you guys are totally kids to me. But I’m just saying generically. Did I insult anybody? Don’t walk out ’cause
you’re getting credit for this, I think. [audience laughing] If there were little kids
here, I wouldn’t say this. Okay. So I’m giving you a lot
of responsibility here. But I’m gonna tell ya that I
know Bob the Tomato personally. And you know, he plays a
cheerful Christian tomato on TV. But when the camera’s turned
off and the lights go off, he’s a dark brooding
chain-smoking agnostic behind the screen. I just want you to know that. [audience laughing] I’m not saying that that’s an act, but I’m just saying that it’s an act. And that’s not who he is. I don’t even know that he’s a
tomato to be perfectly honest. I think, they can do a
lot of things with makeup and special effects and stuff. So I don’t know who he is. And I don’t know that he knows who he is. So you need to pray for Bob, that he would get over this hump. But it cracks me up wherever I go where no matter what anyone says about all this crazy stuff that I’ve done, whenever they come to
the Veggie Tales portion, suddenly there’s like a,
“Whoo,” in the audience. It’s unbelievable. It’s like saying I was Elvis
Presley’s butler or something. Suddenly like, “Well
now, I’m gonna listen.” [audience laughing] So while I’m here to talk this morning about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, today is the 105th
anniversary of his birth. Today is the birthday
of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. That’s specifically why your leaders have brought me here
today to talk about him. So yes, he was born February 4, 1906. I want to tell you just real briefly how I came to write the book. The short answer is I really don’t know. I didn’t set out years ago to say, “I want to write biographies.” I had no ambition to write biographies. I’m far too self-centered to spend years thinking about somebody else. But sometimes the Lord
calls you to do something, and you do it. And I wrote three books of apologetics with the title Everything
You Always Wanted to Know About God [But Were Afraid to Ask]. That’s the first one. And the second one is Everything
Else You Always Wanted to Know About God [But
Were Afraid to Ask]. That’s supposed to be funny, I think. [audience laughing] And then the third one is
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God [But
Were Afraid to Ask]: The Jesus Edition. So sort of like fun Q and
A apologetics with humor, but also it’s pretty serious apologetics. And I was, strangely enough, on CNN talking about the first book, Everything You Always
Wanted to Know about God [But Were Afraid to Ask]. And you know God must be
involved if you’re on CNN talking about Jesus. That’s not, you know, it’s not normal. You should watch more CNN. You’ll see exactly what I mean by that. [audience laughing] And basically, the woman,
the anchor asked me, “Well what about this page?” And just on one page in this book, I’d mentioned Wilberforce. And so she was like, “What about this?” So I started talking about Wilberforce. This leads to me being
asked whether I’d like to write a book on Wilberforce. I wrote the book on Wilberforce
called Amazing Grace. And after that, everybody kept saying, “Eric, who are you
gonna write about next?” ‘Cause they just assumed now,
“Okay, you’re a biographer. “So, who are you gonna write about next?” Some people said, “About
whom will you next write?” [audience laughing] Now most of you, if you have
English as your first language, you realize like whom is a word. Did you know that? [audience laughing] And as a Yale English major,
I just want to say to you try to use whom more often. Because you really won’t
even get charged for it. Nobody notices. You can just use it as much as you want. But I’m a big fan of the word whom. And I like when people say, “Eric, about whom will you write next?” But the fact of the
matter is I didn’t want to write about anybody next. I was not interested in
writing another biography. It’s very hard to write biographies, especially if you’re
unqualified, which I am. That was a joke too, thank you. [audience laughing] You’ve been a great audience; good night. So I didn’t think I would ever want to write another biography. But when people ask you
something often enough, you begin to wonder whether
the Lord might be speaking. And it eventually dawned on me that yes, there was one other person
in history about whom I would like to write. And that’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There’s something about him. And I really felt the Lord
called me to write this book in the same way that I
felt the Lord called me to write the book on William Wilberforce. I really felt that call from God, prepared by God to do this. Otherwise, I wouldn’t dare do it. Honestly. And I probably won’t write
any other biographies. So this is it kids. You won’t have Dick Nixon
to kick around any more. It’s over. That was a joke for the older people. [audience laughing] Thank you, thank you. But seriously, I don’t think
I’ll write another biography. But I did write this one. So I want to share just
briefly a few thoughts about Bonhoeffer. Alright. So first of all, he’s born,
as I said, February 4, 1906. Now, it’s really important. And if you read the book,
you’ll get all this. He was born into what
can only be described as an outrageously amazing family. Even if you come from a wonderful family, it’s hard when you read
about Bonhoeffer’s family not to be a little bit jealous. Because these were just
spectacular people. They were very very
impressive on every level. It’s almost funny. I mean they were all impressive. His father was the most
famous psychiatrist in Germany for the first
half of the 20th century, which I believe is about 50 years. [audience laughing] Thank you, thank you, very good. See, I was an English
major, but I know that. So I’m a polymath evidently. So, Bonhoeffer’s father was one of the most famous scientists
and doctors in Europe. And the whole family was
academically ambitious, really really impressive. His brother, called Friedrich,
decides to go into physics. And of course, if you’re a Bonhoeffer and you go into physics, that means you’re gonna split the atom with Max Planck and Albert Einstein. That’s what they did. That’s what he did at age 23. He split the atom. And I actually saw the atom
in a museum in Dresden. It’s about the size of a softball. You probably don’t know they
were much bigger in those days. Did you know that?
[audience laughing] Yeah, atoms are huge. But he was one of the
first to split the atom. Yeah, that’s not true. But he actually, he actually did split the atom. It’s just that it really was
as tiny as atoms are today. And if you’re a Bonhoeffer,
you don’t just go into physics and teach physics, or whatever. He actually split the atom with Einstein. So the whole family was on this level of impressiveness, I think. They were all academically ambitious. They were all geniuses. And if you grew up in that family, you would have been trained
to think rigorously. He was the youngest of four sons. There were also four girls. They were all brilliant. And the father, you know,
established a culture in the family that we think clearly. The father, of course,
was a great scientist. And so you think clearly;
you think rigorously. Think things through to the bottom. Don’t think with your emotions. Logic is your friend. Use logic; think rigorously. The father also taught
them to speak clearly. And I don’t mean to enunciate clearly, although you get extra credit for that. But also, to say what you mean. Don’t speak sloppily
and expect other people to sort of untangle the mess of words that you’ve just thrown at them. To think things through. And then if you actually
have something to say, you know, express it clearly. And then we’ll debate it,
or we’ll tear you to shreds. ‘Cause there’s like 12 smart
people around the table. You can imagine it would
have been really intimidating to speak in the Bonhoeffer household. But they were really loving. This is the amazing thing. They weren’t just impressive on paper. I mean we’ve all met people
who are really impressive on paper, but you don’t
want to hang with them. You know what I’m talking about? No one here, of course, that
I would mention publicly. [audience laughing] But seriously, they were, they cared about other people’s feelings. They weren’t just, you know,
about being right and wrong. But they cared about other people. They were a beautiful group of people. And if you read the book, you
see that this family culture followed him all through his life, and in many ways was largely
responsible for who he was. It wasn’t just his faith. The two were one, because it
was lived out in the family. It’s also important to say
that Bonhoeffer’s father and mother didn’t only
exhort them to think clearly and to speak clearly, but
to once you’ve figured out what you believed and
what you felt was true, you know where the logic led you, but then to actually act on that. Not just to believe it intellectually, but to live it, to actually live it, not just to talk about it. You know, that’s called integrity. And it was in real
evidence in this family. And again, it’s all through the book. You just see that that’s
who these people were. It was very important to them. And it comes out in many many ways, not least in how they
stood up to the Nazis. So there was great integrity. But Bonhoeffer, at age
14, decides to announce to the family that he
wants to be a theologian. Now again, in this family,
you didn’t think lightly. He probably was like
mulling this over for a year before he, you know,
would dare mention it. Because, again, it’s not the
sort of thing like you’d say, “You know, I’d like to do this.” And six months later,
you changed your mind. And they’d say, “Well,
he’s young, you know. “He doesn’t know what he wants.” No, the Bonhoeffers would
not allow you to do that. So if you were gonna go on the
record as saying something, they’re gonna hold you to
that for like a lifetime. So he kept his mouth shut until he’s 14. He announces he’s gonna be a theologian. And what he meant by that,
just so we understand, is he wanted to be
academically impressive. He wanted to be a theologian. He wanted to go to Berlin University and distinguish himself in the
academic field of theology. He wasn’t saying he wanted to be a pastor. So he goes to Berlin University, and this was the finest place in the world to study theology, and pretty
quickly distinguishes himself as, you know, an academic rock star. You have the living
legends on the faculty, this great faculty, fighting over him, wanting him to do his
dissertation under them. It’s almost funny. He gets his doctorate at age 21. Let me say that again. [audience laughing] Yeah, anybody here get
their doctorate at age 21? In a crowd like this, there’s gotta be at least a dozen or two. Don’t be shy, right. No, it is impressive. I should say that I just started working on my honorary doctorate
actually just a week ago. [audience laughing] That’s what this is about. So Bonhoeffer gets his doctorate. And his big theological question, this impressive theologian
is asking the big question, “What is the church? “What is the church?” And in the course of
answering that question on a very high theological level, he finds that he actually enjoys the church itself. He enjoys working in the church. He enjoys what he called church work. Preaching, not just
teaching in the theological, academic environment, but
preaching the word of God, teaching Sunday school. He enjoys that, and he decides
he wants to get ordained. But you can’t get ordained
in Germany, at that time, until you’re 25 years old. So when he’s 24, he still has some time, he decides to spend a
year in New York City which is where I live
with my wife and daughter. So he comes to New York
in 1930 to spend a year studying at Union Theological Seminary which was, you know,
not really up to snuff in Berlin circles in terms of theology. Bonhoeffer was not really
impressed by what passed for theology at Union, and he says so. And in the book, I quote what he writes. It’s actually hilarious. He’s definitely looking down his nose at Union Theological Seminary. He thinks he can learn some things. But I think he’s mostly
culturally curious. He wants to go to New York. He wants to experience America. His brother called Friedrich,
the brilliant physicist, had been to America the year before. So Bonhoeffer was culturally curious. And the whole family was like this again. They knew every painting, every opera. They traveled widely. They were musical geniuses. Have I left anything out? I mean they really were
this impressive family. So he decides to go to New York in a sense to explore his, to
expand his cultural horizons, not so much because he
thinks he’s gonna get much out of Union Theological
Seminary, which he really did not. Berlin University was
theologically liberal, but Bonhoeffer was not
theologically liberal. But he respected the liberal
theology at Berlin University even though he didn’t agree with it. But at Union, it’s very liberal, and he doesn’t respect their theology. He just thinks it’s sloppy. But what happens to him while
he’s in New York that year is he’s invited by an
African American student named Frank Fisher from Alabama to go visit Abyssinian
Baptist Church in Harlem. And Bonhoeffer in September
of 1930 goes up to Harlem to visit Abyssinian Baptist Church. And what he sees there
changes him profoundly. He sees something radically
different than what he had been observing
in Protestant mainstream white churches where,
as far as he could tell, most people are just playing church. They’re just showing up and
going through the motions. But here he comes to this
gigantic congregation, there were many thousands
in the congregation. I think it was literally
the largest church in America at the time. I think this is even before Willow Creek. [audience laughing] Thank you, thank you. But it was this giant church. And he sees people, again
all African Americans, who clearly believe this stuff. They clearly are worshiping God. They’re worshiping Jesus. When they’re singing the worship songs, they’re really worshiping Jesus Christ. And the sermons were
fiery gospel preaching. And these people lived it out. For them, it was the real thing. Bonhoeffer is so moved by this experience in this congregation of
what can only be described as suffering people. Because African Americans
in 1930, 80 years ago, they were no strangers to suffering. This was real for them. And it changes Bonhoeffer dramatically. When he goes back to Berlin in 1931, people know that he’s changed somehow. Now before this, and if you
read my book you’ll see, he is theologically orthodox. I mean he is brilliant. And when you read about his understanding of who God is and
everything, he’s right there. But somehow, this visit to this African American
congregation changes his heart. And what I neglected to say, shame on me, is that he goes there
once and is so impressed, so moved in his heart,
that he decides to go back every single Sunday for all of the months that he is in New York City. He gets involved in the congregation. He teaches Sunday school. Now imagine this blonde,
bespectacled Berlin academic going up to Harlem among African Americans in 1930 and 1931 every Sunday. So it profoundly changes him. He experiences a kind of Christianity that he has not yet experienced. So when he comes back, his friends notice that he is different somehow. They notice that somehow
he’s not just ambitious as a theologian, but somehow
he’s taking God more seriously. Bonhoeffer begins, I should say Germany
has changed now as well. So he’s changed, but Germany’s changed. Because when Bonhoeffer left
Germany to go to New York, the Nazi Party was the 12th
largest political party in the Reichstag, the German
Parliament: number 12. When he returns, it’s number two. They have absolutely gained
incredible power politically. And Bonhoeffer can sense this. He can sense this. And I really believe the Lord
is speaking to him about this. You get this prophetic sense from him. But he begins to say
things from the pulpit and from behind the
lectern when he’s speaking at Berlin University that are pointed, pointed statements from a
political point of view. He starts to say things like, “If you’re a Christian in Germany, “you have only one Savior,
and that is Jesus Christ.” And when he’s saying that, it’s very clear what he’s saying is that it’s not Hitler. That was a very dramatic
thing to say at the time. But he begins speaking
out against the Nazis. He also begins talking to
his theological students at Berlin University about
the Bible as the word of God, as something through
which God, who is alive, wishes to speak to us. God, who is alive, wants to speak through His word, which is alive. This is very radical at Berlin University in the Theological Department. They would not talk about
those kinds of things. But Bonhoeffer has changed. He begins taking his theological students on retreats on weekends and
telling them to meditate on scriptures, to hear
what God would have to say to you through His word. Radical radical stuff. Bonhoeffer is changed. And as I said, Germany is changing. The Nazis are getting more and more power. In 1933, Hitler becomes
Chancellor: January 31, 1933. Two days later, Bonhoeffer
gets on the radio and gives what has become
a very very famous speech about the Fuhrer Principle. Now the Fuhrer Principle, Fuhrer is the German word for leader. And Bonhoeffer is dissecting this idea. It was a very popular idea
in Germany at the time that Germany needs a
leader, a strong leader. Well he probably realized
they got one of those, right? And it didn’t work out so well. But at this time, they’re
clamoring for a leader. It’s like Israel clamoring for a king. “We want a king; we want a king.” And Bonhoeffer sees that this has given Germany Adolph Hitler. And so he goes on the radio two days after Hitler becomes Chancellor. And he gives this famous speech dissecting this idea
of the Fuhrer Principle because the Fuhrer
Principle was just this idea of we need a strong leader. But Bonhoeffer’s saying
“What is leadership? “What is authority and where
do we get authority from?” He dissects it and says that anyone who exercises authority must himself be submitted
to a higher authority. That is where you get your authority from is because you’re submitted
to a higher authority. And he makes it very clear that if you don’t have that kind of authority, that kind of a servant
leadership attitude, that, “I’m serving God
and I’m serving the people “over whom God has put me.” That kind of leadership. If you don’t have that kind of leadership, you are a misleader. You’re not a leader. Very dicey that he
would say this publicly. But he says it publicly, and
from day one, or day two, or day three, whatever it
was, he is on the record as being against the Nazis. And I’m speaking sloppily just ’cause we don’t have the time. But obviously I parsed
this in a more nuanced way throughout the book. Because there’s a lot of nuance to what we’re talking about here. But Bonhoeffer goes on the
record and very quickly gets involved in what the
Germans called Kirchenkampf, the church struggle. Because he saw that the Nazis were trying to take over the church. There’s no separation of church and state in Germany at this time. So you have a strange
situation where Hitler and the Nazis felt it
was perfectly rational for them to take over the church, to infiltrate the church
with Nazi ideology. Now if you were not biblically grounded, if you were not theologically grounded, if you did not know Jesus personally, if you were not an actual Christian, you wouldn’t know what to say to that. You’d say, “Well, okay,
maybe they can do that. “Maybe it’s within their
rights to do this.” The Nazis are sort of
infiltrating the church and kind of redefining
Christianity along Nazi lines which of course is absurd. Their idea of virtue is ruthlessness. Christian idea of virtue is mercy. Bonhoeffer sees this
happening and gets involved as one of the key leaders
in trying to get the church to wake up and to see that this
is not a tenable situation. We are at war. These are two ideologies that are at war. The church must be the church. And it must stand against the state when the state is encroaching
on what properly belongs to the sphere of the church. Very very bold of him to do this. Bonhoeffer was one of the
leaders in what became known as the Barmen Declaration
in drafting this document where the church, where
the serious pastors, the godly pastors,
effectively say, “That’s it. “We secede from the German state church “which has now become an apostate: “a heretical, Nazified pseudo church. “We separate.” And they wrote this document
called the Barmen Declaration. And all the pastors in Germany,
and there were thousands of them who signed onto
the Barmen Declaration, became known, became what is
known as the Confessing Church. So this is in a sense the true church in Germany at this time. And Bonhoeffer was one of the leaders in the Confessing Church which was standing against the Nazis. But, and here’s the big
but, the unpleasant but, many of those in the Confessing Church, even though they’re sort of
the good guys in this story, they didn’t see very clearly
what Bonhoeffer seemed to see. He really did have a prophetic gift, however you want to see that, that he was brilliant or that God gave him an actual prophetic gift. And I don’t know if it’s either. I think it’s probably both. But he seemed to see that
unless we are prepared to fight, we are losing. The Nazis are very cannily
getting more and more power. And Bonhoeffer was frustrated. He says, “The church has to
fight on a different plane. “This political battle, we’re
losing the political battle.” All kinds of things happen. Bottom line is it was hard
for people like Bonhoeffer during Nazi times. He ends up leading a
Confessing Church Seminary which was a real seminary
trying to raise up godly men to become Lutheran pastors. But along the lines of
disciples of Jesus Christ, not just clerics, not just people who know how to do the Liturgy and
keep their mouths shut, but people who are sold
out to Jesus Christ. Bonhoeffer does this
for a number of years. But the Gestapo gets
more and more aggressive trying to shut things down. Finally in 1938, his
options for serving God in Nazi Germany are
winnowing down to nothing. He realizes that Hitler is
bringing war to Germany. And he doesn’t know what he’s going to do. People often say Bonhoeffer’s a pacifist. That really doesn’t make sense. He’s not a pacifist any more than any godly person is a pacifist. But he was not opposed
to picking up a rifle to defend his country. But he understands that the war that Hitler is bringing is not a just war. And he knows he cannot fight
in the war that is coming. So what’s he going to do? He decides, in a nutshell,
to go back to America. So in June of 1939, just
ahead of the coming war, he gets on a ship and goes to America. And the problem is he wasn’t
sure if this was God’s will. He was really struggling with what is the Lord calling me to do. And all through the book,
you get this picture of him as somebody really obedient to God. Obedient, obedient, obedient. What is God saying? I must hear God. What is God saying? How is God leading? He gets off the ship in
America in New York City. And no sooner does he set
foot in New York City, then he realizes that he
doesn’t have the peace of God. Maybe he’s made a mistake. It doesn’t take him very
long to understand that even though he’d planned to be in America for maybe three years, he can’t
be there more than a year. A few more days pass and he
realizes he can’t even be there ’til the end of that year, six months. It seems that every day that
passes he becomes clearer and clearer and clearer on the idea that the Lord is calling
him back to Germany to absolute uncertainty,
to probable death. But he feels God is calling him. And he gets on a ship. 26 days after he lands in New York, he gets on a ship and goes back. He arrives in Germany and
all his friends are stunned. “We pulled all kinds of
strings to get you out of here “so that you could survive, “that you could serve another day. “What are you doing back here?” Bonhoeffer says very coolly,
“I’ve made a mistake.” He knew that God called him
to stand with His people during this time. That’s exactly what he does. Now the question, of course,
is what is he going to do? Because it’s very clear
that he doesn’t have much by the way of options. He’s forbidden even from
publishing books now because he had the temerity
to write a book on the Psalms. Some of you may know the Psalms
are in the Old Testament. Did you know that? Yes, 1% of you knew that. The Psalms are in the Old Testament. And the Nazis, who had
infiltrated the church, wanted to cleanse the church, the German church, of all Jewish elements. So out with the Old Testament. Out with anything smacking of Judaism. If you want to remove
Judaism from Christianity, let me just say up front:
good luck with that project. [audience laughing] Not gonna work. Well Bonhoeffer, bold
Bonhoeffer, writes a book on the Psalms at a time when
it was like a sharp stick in the eye of the Nazis. So he can’t even publish. What’s he going to do now? He’s not going to fight in Hitler’s war. What’s he going to do? Well here’s what he does. Bonhoeffer’s family, whom I’ve mentioned, were very involved in
this widespread conspiracy against Hitler and the Nazis, having secret meetings in their home. His brother-in-law was in
fact one of the leaders of German military intelligence,
which was the center of the conspiracy against Adolph Hitler. Bonhoeffer’s brother-in-law
hires Bonhoeffer at this point and says, “How would
you like to work for me “in German military intelligence? “During a time of war, it will look like “you’re defending the fatherland. “You’re giving your
gifts as a great pastor “with connections all around Europe. “You’ve traveled around Europe. “You can work for German
military intelligence. “It will look like you’re serving the aims “of the Third Reich, but
what you will be doing, “what I know what you’ll be doing, “what you know what you’ll be doing, “your family knows what you’ll be doing, “what you’ll really be doing secretly “is you will now become
involved officially “in the conspiracy against Adolph Hitler.” Bonhoeffer makes that leap. He becomes a member of the
conspiracy against Adolph Hitler. His job is to go around Europe, you know, looking like a member of
German military intelligence, but in fact making secret connections with members of the Allied governments, most notably Churchill’s
government in England, to let them know there
are Germans inside Germany working against the Nazis. Incredibly brave thing for him to do. So he gets involved in this. He continues to write. In 1942, he falls in love. Now, this has never been written about in narrative form before. It’s an amazing thing. Beautiful beautiful love
story chapter in his life which I write about in the book, as I say, for the first time. I’m amazed that I had the privilege of telling this story for the first time. But he does, he falls in love. And he gets engaged early in 1943. And just around this time,
he’s arrested by the Gestapo. The Gestapo finally catches up with him. But it was for a money laundering thing, for something involving getting seven Jews out of Germany into neutral Switzerland. It was not for being involved in the plot to assassinate the Fuhrer. So Bonhoeffer thinks he’ll
probably get out of prison, things will probably go well for him. He thinks that Hitler
will probably be killed by one of these other conspirators. So he has great hope. But in 1944, the famous
Valkyrie plot is hatched. A bomb explodes in Hitler’s
military headquarters. Hitler does not die. And suddenly now for the
first time in many years, this vast conspiracy is exposed. Thousands are arrested. Thousands are tortured. Names come up. Bonhoeffer’s name is among them. And from here on in,
his days are numbered. We know the rest of the story. In 1945, April 9th, he’s transferred to Flossenburg Concentration Camp. And at dawn on April 9th, he’s killed. Now the temptation of course is to say, “That’s tragic, it’s sad.” When I first heard the
story of Bonhoeffer, I thought, “Oh, it’s so sad. “He died; he was 39 years old, “right before the end of the war.” Well Bonhoeffer would rebuke us, I think, just the way Jesus
rebuked Peter and He says, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Because you’re thinking
with the thoughts of man, not the thoughts of God. Bonhoeffer would be the first to say he was obeying the Lord
in all that he did. And if the Lord led him to the gallows, praise the name of the Lord. Because we’re all going to die. The older you get, the more you realize like we are going to die. So the question is not
whether you’re going to die. The question is how are you going to live and how are you going to die? Are you going to be living
your life in radical obedience to Jesus so that you
can walk to your death with the peace of God into
the arms of your Savior? Bonhoeffer preached a sermon in 1933, 12 years before his death, where he talks to his
congregation about death. And he says, “Death is the
most horrible thing imaginable “unless it is transformed by faith.” If you have ever actually
come to know God, if you’re not just a church goer, but if you actually know God, if you actually have a
relationship with God, if you’ve actually ever
glimpsed the kingdom of heaven, you are from that moment homesick to be with God. And you know you are
actually passing through. And you walk through life with a lightness and a joy and a peace
because we’re pilgrims. We’re going some place else. And we go there with joy knowing
that that’s our true home. Bonhoeffer preaches this in 1933. And he believed it that much more strongly in 1945 when he went to the gallows. It seems clear from all the evidence. And again, you can read the book. You can look at the evidence that I have. But it seems beyond clear
that he walked to his death with the peace and the joy of God. And so the question I’ll
leave us all with this morning is do you have that kind of faith? And I don’t mean the kind of
faith to walk to the gallows. Because God will give
you the faith you need for whatever circumstances. But do you believe in Jesus
so that you actually obey Him? Because if you don’t actually obey Him, then you have to really question
do you really believe it? Bonhoeffer says that,
“There can be no daylight “between what you say you
believe and how you behave, “that the two are one.” So that’s a huge challenge to us. And it doesn’t mean to make us legalists. On the contrary. But to cast ourselves on the mercy of God and say, “Lord, I really want “to have the faith that
you died for me to have, “so that I can live my life
with a freedom and a joy “in obedience to You “so that whether I live or die,
I’m homesick to be with You. “I’m longing to be with You knowing that “that’s the only reason I was ever created “was to be with You forever.” I promise you if you read this book, you will read the life
of somebody who lived that kind of a life. I believe that he led it to God’s glory. And that God gives it to us as a gift to inspire us because we are meant to live that kind of life too,
every single one of us. And so may the Lord use Bonhoeffer’s story to help us to be the people
that God created us to be. In Jesus name, Amen. God bless you. [audience applauding]>>Narrator: We hope you
enjoyed this message. Biola University offers a variety of biblically-centered degree programs ranging from business to ministry
to the arts and sciences. Learn more at biola.edu. [upbeat music]

15 thoughts on “Eric Metaxas: Amazing Grace, Dietrich Bonhoeffer & Harlem – Biola University Chapel”

  1. He is righter than rain. In obedience to Christ…that is such a hard thing to do; to align our words with our actions via the grace and edicts of Christ. This is also a lesson to really consider the term 'wall of separation between church and state' as mentioned by Thomas Jefferson in one of his letters. Nazi Germany showed us the worst case of lack of separation. Sadly though, I believe our churches have already been compromised by the cheap grace Bonhoeffer so often referenced.

  2. I can see clearly that the big churches do nothing to question the Zionism they actively promote, although the actions of the Isreali state are violent in nature whereas Christ told us to pray for our enemies and those who levy abuse at us. The current church in the USA is more of a political arm for the desires of extreme antinomionist liberalism OR radical warfare and neither of these philosophies have a darned thing to do with Christ at all. God help us all!

  3. Excellent discussion…once he got started! Not sure why he took 8 minutes to begin discussing Bonhoeffer. Interesting aside about Abyssynian Baptist. I should make a point of visiting there when I visit NY next month.

  4. What a man! What a path to follow! What an author who makes Bonhoeffer speak to us and challenge our willingness to follow Bonhoeffer's path! I have read another biography and Metaxas is cantivatng.

  5. There are some spats of audio cut-out in the first 11minutes, but they clear up after that, and the main body of the talk is intact.

  6. Just re upload this, the audio going in and out is just insane, it happens during some parts where you really want to know what he is saying

  7. The message Eric communicates through the life of Bonhoeffer is a message of radical true belief in Jesus Christ!

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