09 April 2008

Musings on prophets

It's been a week of death remembrances. Last Friday, April 4, was the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. 63 years ago today Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed. Both were 39 when they were murdered. Both pushed their fellow human beings, often their fellow Christians, to higher standards yet knew that they, too, were flawed.

It was messages like the below that got both into trouble. Bonhoeffer -- fighting for peace, human rights and the overthrow of Hitler; King -- fighting first for civil rights and then to eliminate poverty and end the Vietnam war. We love the prophets when they're speaking truth to others. When they speak truth to us we kill them.
Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christian should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from a sermon on II Cor. 12:9

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