To resist or not to resist, that is the question (The Cost of Discipleship 12)

There are times I wish older Bonhoeffer had a chance to address some of the things young Bonhoeffer said. Young Bonhoeffer had a tendency toward extreme positions that make his work both exciting and troubling.
This is seen clearly in the 12th chapter of The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer address Matthew 5:38-42 which is a passage about giving up personal rights (turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, give to the one who asks, do not resist him who is evil). As Bonhoeffer discusses this passage he says, “The only way to overcome evil is to let it run itself to a standstill because it does not find the resistance it is looking for. Resistance merely creates further evil and adds fuel to the flames…Evil becomes a spent force when we put up no resistance.”
I agree with Bonhoeffer that many times it is better to let evil run its course. The slap Jesus speaks of is an insult. Instead of getting into a war of insults, it is better to let it go. The soldier could require a Jew to carry his pack for one mile. Jesus tells His followers to walk two miles in service to others.
You may know Bonhoeffer was a young German adult as the Nazi’s came to power. And during the Nazi regime, evil did not burn itself out. When Chamberlain did not resist Hitler’s desire for more, Hitler decided to take more. Bonhoeffer was so disturbed by Hitler that he joined the plot to assassinate him. When the plot failed, Bonhoeffer was arrested and hung for his role in the plot.
Older Bonhoeffer learned something young Bonhoeffer did not yet understand. Sometimes evil must be resisted. Because some evil does not go away, it grows in strength and wickedness.
Based on Christ’s examples, I do not think He was telling His followers to sit back and let evil run rampant. He was telling His followers not to cling to their personal rights. But issues of justice sometimes require active resistance.


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