chapter  15
10 Pages

‘It is worse to be evil than to do evil’

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Challenge to the Quaker Conscience
ByRachel Muers

The challenge posed by the life and work of the German Lutheran theologian and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Quakers and other advocates of Christian pacifism is clear and well documented. Bonhoeffer consistently suggests that an obsession with the good or evil of particular acts prevents 'responsible action in the world'. Bonhoeffer, as Hauerwas is anxious to remind his readers, argued consistently that 'there can only be a community of peace where it does not rest on lies and injustice'. Bonhoeffer's life story suggests, as Hauerwas, Jones and others have noted, that forgiveness, wholeheartedly believed in and accepted, can function not as an easy escape from responsibility but as a spur to responsible action - just as pacifism. Concerning Bonhoeffer's participation in the conspiracy, McLendon's argument is that it reflects not a failure on Bonhoeffer's part but a failure on the part of the German churches to sustain genuine resistance to Nazism.