Noble Voices From the Grave Respond To Tyranny

I’ve been trying to become a history student on my own for the last few years. Nothing outrageous, just reading good books as I find them on the cheap. I have had my tree shaken in the last year by two books in particular. One is a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the other is a fairly old textbook documenting the events of the American Revolution.

One thing that has struck me is a point of strong similarity between the aforementioned German pastor, and a major player in the war for independence, Samuel Adams. Aside from the fact that (from what I can tell) they were both men of genuine Christian faith, there is something else that I’d like to highlight.

That is, both Adams and Bonhoeffer found themselves in the sticky position of having seen the conclusion of their nation’s circumstances from afar. And by “afar” I mean several years ahead of their friends and colleagues. Adams was ahead of all the other Founding Fathers, far ahead, in seeing where British measures like the Stamp Act were going to lead. Adams could see that the arrows were all pointing to the enslavement of the colonies, or else a war to prevent that. Meanwhile, the admittedly brilliant leaders around him were still hoping for peaceful resolution to their conflicts with King George and Parliament.

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Likewise, Bonhoeffer was light-years ahead of his fellow German pastors in spotting the rot at the center of Naziism. He could see from the first days the vital things that were at stake when Hitler’s party began to gain power. He knew his Bible well enough to see that there could be no reconciliation, no compromise. With regard to Naziism and Christianity, one or the other could remain in Germany, but both could not. There could no more be peaceful coexistence between them than light and darkness could dwell together.

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Both Bonhoeffer and Adams, therefore, when staring down the barrel of tyranny, found themselves alone, out in front, as it were, with the slow and frustrating task of having to try and wake up their brothers.

It strikes me that a large number of the readers of this blog can probably identify with that. Well, friends, you are not alone, however it may seem. You see the way things are going in America, and people who ought to be able to see that as well are still stuck in the paradigm that says, “If only we can elect Republicans, we can get this thing turned around!” You want to scream at them, or grab them by the shoulders and shake them out of their stupor.

Here are some pointers from the lives of Bonhoeffer and Adams that may be of some use if this is you.

1. Get Used to Being Lonely. Your real friends won’t desert you, but they won’t quite be able to go along with you either. Until the SHTF, that is. Suddenly you’ll be surrounded by folks who are wondering what to do next.

2. Develop a Thick Skin. Even people you love, and who love you, are going to label you (mostly behind your back) as some kind of dangerous radical.

3. Expect Continued Frustration as you do your best to explain what you know and what it means. When I say expect it, I mean decide now how you’re going to deal with it. Bonhoeffer and Adams never lost faith. They believed in God, and they remained willing to believe in their brethren. They knew they’d come around eventually. And they did, though it was too little, too late for the pastor.

4. Continuing from 3, here. Don’t Separate Yourself from Your Brother Patriots. The fact that they are slow on the uptake doesn’t mean the right course of action is to go solo and die in a hail of bullets without advancing the cause. Encourage yourself with this quote from Adams:

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.

5. Be Constant. You see the storm coming, and your brethren don’t. This means it will catch them by surprise. It shouldn’t (if only they’d listen to you) but it will. When it does, they’ll remember who predicted it repeatedly and patiently over time. They need to find you unshaken, full of faith and confidence. They will need this from you because it will be the opposite of their own experience. “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.” (Psalms 125:1) Your brothers will be panicking. Be that immovable mountain of courage that can calm them. And lead them.

6. Learn to Rejoice in Little Victories. We sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot by demanding the whole enchilada, or nothing. We’ll train our sights on our own guys when we find that they’re not as Constitutionally perfect as we are. If a candidate doesn’t toe the line right down the line, he’s outta there. I see this especially among my fellow strict constructionists, or libertarian-leaning types. (Rand Paul’s stance on immigration supposedly means he’s part of the problem, not the solution, in spite of whatever else he may be doing to rattle the statist cage, so that the elitists start remarking publicly about how “dangerous” he is.) Adams was not like this. He was happy when a vote went his way, even if the next one didn’t. He’d just put his head down, lower his shoulder and keep going. 90% of success is simply continuing to show up when all the sane people have packed it in and gone home.

7. Most importantly, be loving and cheerful. Cheerful, you say? Yeah, I said it. If you’ve been able to read the handwriting on the wall before everyone else, the temptation will be to become hardened, cynical, and defensive. This is not how Christian patriots should go about their business. It was not how Bonhoeffer reacted. During his imprisonment, his fellow prisoners constantly remarked about how the German patriot was always generous, outgoing and (I know it sounds crazy) cheerful! Listen: if you let the enemy steal your joy, you’ve given away the battle before the opening volley is let loose.

Do not lose heart, you lonely one. Steady on.

If you’re interested, there’s more where this came from. I’ve got a couple things aimed in this same direction on sale for cheap this week. Check out the short article, Christian Resistance to Tyranny: The Three-Point Strategy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, just 99 cents for your Kindle device, and the book Resistance to Tyrants: Romans 13 and the Christian Duty to Oppose Wicked Rulers in both Kindle and paperback formats.


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