Lecture to explore relevance of Bonhoeffer’s Christian witness for today
Author Eric Metaxas to deliver Jan. 18 talk
By Julie Filby
Archbishop's LECTURE SERIES:
Speaker: Eric Metaxas
Critically acclaimed writer Eric Metaxas will deliver the lecture “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Why He Matters Today” at the Jan. 18 installment of the Archbishop’s Lecture Series.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an influential Lutheran pastor executed by the Nazis at Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945 for his participation in the German resistance. Metaxas is the author of the biography “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” (see Dec. 15 Denver Catholic Register for a review by Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.).
“Bonhoeffer in a nutshell, for folks who don’t know, was a German pastor and theologian who got involved in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler,” Metaxas said.
“Because of his faith in Jesus, he stood up for the Jews unto death—amazing, amazing story.”
Bonhoeffer was one of the few Church leaders in Germany at the time that stood up to the Nazis.
“He stood up in the face of Nazism, in the face of satanic evil, as a hero,” Metaxas said. “He did what God asked him to do.”
Bonhoeffer was a leader in the drafting of the famous “Barmen Declaration,” a statement in which pastors expressed opposition to the Nazi-supported “German Christian” movement known for its anti-Semitism and extreme nationalism.
“Every pastor in Germany that signed the Barmen Declaration was now part of what became known as the Confessing Church,” Metaxas explained. “The situation that compelled (the leaders) to draft the Barmen Declaration in the 1930s is not so terribly different from the current situation that has compelled Christian leaders to draft the Manhattan Declaration.”
The “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience,” unveiled in 2009, called on the wide-ranging Christian community to stand in solidarity to defend the sanctity of human life, marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and the importance of religious liberty. To date it has been signed by more than 481,000 people.
Archbishop Chaput, whose office is sponsoring the lecture, has admired the writings and witness of Bonhoeffer for decades, quoting him in talks and articles many times.
“We’re Catholic; Bonhoeffer was Lutheran,” said Francis X. Maier, chancellor of the archdiocese. “Catholics won’t agree with Bonhoeffer on every point of Christian history, authority or doctrine—but the great majority of his thought has application to all Christians, and his witness continues to have urgency for our own circumstances today.”
In an interview with Glenn Beck on the Fox News Channel Dec. 3, Metaxas talked about the importance of the Bonhoeffer biography and why he felt compelled to write it.
“God made me write this book,” he said. “While I was writing the story, I kept noticing the parallels to today and thought: here is a man who lived his faith. We need models of people who totally live their faith because we need to be inspired. We need to see it can be done.”
During his career, Metaxas has written for Charles Colson, one of the co-authors of the Manhattan Declaration. He is the author of The New York Times bestselling biography “Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery,” and the apologetics trilogy “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God.”
Metaxas also worked for the children’s animated series “VeggieTales,” has written more than 30 children’s books, and his work for Rabbit Ears Productions won him three Grammy nominations for Best Children’s Recording.
The Yale graduate, who served as editor of the Yale Record, the nation’s oldest college humor magazine, is frequently featured on CNN, Fox News, National Public Radio, and the Hugh Hewitt Show. He attends Calvary-St. George’s Episcopal Church, and lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter. For more on Metaxas visit www.ericmetaxas.com.
The 7 p.m. lecture is free and open to the public; a question and answer session will follow. It will be held in Bonfils Halls on the east side of the John Paul II Center campus at 1300 Steele St. in Denver. Advance sign-up is not required.
The next speaker in the Archbishop’s Lecture Series will be professor, lawyer and broadcast journalist Hugh Hewitt at 7 p.m. Feb. 22.