Checks And Balances Between The Church And State

by Zoë Pollock

Scott Horton interviews Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, a biography of German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who participated in an attempt to murder Adolf Hitler:

The question for Germans in the 1930s is the same question we face today. ... [Bonhoeffer] said there were three ways that the church must behave with regard to the state. First, it must question the state. In a sense it must call the government to account, and be a voice that speaks out if and when the state is not behaving legitimately. Second, if the state is harming anyone, it’s the role of the church to help those whom the state is harming. And thirdly and most radically, if the state is behaving wrongly, it is the role of the church to directly oppose the state. That’s where he lost a lot of people. They couldn’t believe a good Lutheran German would say such a thing. But Bonhoeffer was a Christian first and a German second.