Not that I agree with their courses of action, but how should we view the actions of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the plot to kill Hitler and those of Eric Rudolph, who bombed an abortion clinic, or James Kopp, who shot and killed a Buffalo abortionist? Bonhoeffer is held up as a Christian martyr. There are surely those (in the minority) that uphold Kopp and Randolph as well, but on the whole they are looked upon as murdering fanatics. Some claim that abortion is tantamount to a holocaust. Can a Christian conspire to kill? Did Bonhoeffer cross the line? --Roger Hoelzel (Grand Rapids)

Bonhoeffer may well have crossed the line. There may have been another way to deal with Hitler. (Disseminating literature? Prayer?) I do not believe Christians ought to use violence; but honestly, if I lived back then, I can imagine justifying it, and I bet you can too. This is an old chestnut. I am afraid I may need a few more years to ponder this one. But a good (and welcome) question!

There is some sort of parallel with the abortion clinic bombers, but maybe not a direct one... I hesitate to compare physicians who perform abortions to the Nazis. Not that I am pro-abortion! I am uneasy with the comparison. On the one hand, we do not want to empower those who kill the innocent. On the other, we are told by our Lord to turn the other cheek (disarming one's enemy by not resisting him, or overcoming evil with good, as in Romans 12).

I always thought of Bonhoeffer as a man of conviction, not necessarily a "martyr." I certainly feel profoundly sad that his execution took place only days before the Allies liberated the concentration camp. We all make mistakes, and if his complicity in the plot to assassinate Hitler was a sin in God's eyes, perhaps such a misstep is not outside the reach of God's forgiveness.

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