While reading in Bethge’s biography of Bonhoeffer I’ve come across what I’ll call a discrepancy in the movie documentary “Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace.” I know a lot of people are being introduced to Bonhoeffer for the first time through this film and I do love the film. I have one beef at this point. It describes Bonhoeffer’s time in London as an escape of sorts from the church struggle in Germany. The problem is more in what is not said than what is said. He spends eighteen months in London and then comes home and finds things have changed. I’d say that was misleading. The exact words come at 41:51 into the film if you want to check.
“Bonhoeffer removed himself from the crisis by accepting a position with a German church in London England.” After this come John DeGruchy’s words:
“When Bonhoeffer comes back 18 months later, after he’d gone to London, and becomes involved in the church struggle again, in the first instance it’s a struggle around the question of the church’s freedom to preach the gospel. Not around the Jewish question. But then gradually Bonhoeffer recognizes that the real question is not the freedom of the church to preach the gospel, the real issue is the freedom of the church to actually stand by the victims.”
From what I’m reading in chapter eight (which I have not blogged to yet, sorry) London is a big part of the church struggle. Those expatriot churches outside of Germany are a threat to the Nazi regime early on because of their connection with foreigners. For this reason the Bishop must tread carefully. Bonhoeffer plays this for all its worth. Bethge points out that though this is Bonhoeffer’s first pastorate, because he travels every other week back to Berlin and is so involved in bringing word back and forth from inside and out of Germany, he can’t settle down into normal pastoral duties. He never fully experiences the peace he intended.
As for DeGruchy’s comments, I’ll have to come back to this later when I’ve read the next chapter.