ADVERTISING
 
Wednesday, August 15   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
New season
What kind of contents do you enjoy most?






SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



René Breuel
 

Power reveals

Power reveals who we are, and reveals even more the fundamentals of our worldview.

CULTURE MAKING AUTHOR René Breuel 30 DECEMBER 2017 17:00 h GMT+1
Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

In February 1st, 1933, two days after Hitler’s election as chancellor of Germany, a young theologian gave a radio address on the theme of leadership in Berlin.



Dietrich Bonhoeffer was only 26, and the address had been scheduled to go to the air for some weeks, but it couldn’t be more timely. Bonhoeffer denounced the Führer concept of leadership Hitler would come to embody, but couldn’t quite finish: his speech was cut off.



The full horrors of Hitler’s leadership were still far in the future, but Bonhoeffer’s address had a prophetic ring to it. It seemed to picture the consequences of the dominating and self-referential type of Führer leadership which loomed on the horizon, and to call people to a different vision.



Hitler’s understanding of leadership, according to social historian James MacGregor Burns, was engulfed in his own suffocating sense of self. “While he claimed to seek power for the sake of the salvation of his country and for the purification of the Nordic race, this was self-deception.



He identified his goal wholly with his own dominance and was willing to destroy his people for the sake of his own power.” As Hitler laid prostrated at an army hospital in the end of World War I, depressed and anguished over how he and his motherland had ended in defeat, the two fates seemed fused and confused in his mind.



The fate of vanquished Germany and his sense of defeat seemed to merge – as the hope of victory and his own power merged later – and perhaps too, as Walter Langer suggests, he was reacting to the defeat of Germany as if it were a rape of himself as well as his real and simulated mother (in Mein Kampf he was still referring to Germany as ‘she’).[1]


Bonhoeffer’s address, on the other hand, envisioned leadership differently: self-effacing, lucid, and, according to his theological frame, recognising of higher authority and above all of God’s authority.



“The true Leader must always be able to disillusion… He must lead his following away from the authority of his person to the recognition of the real authority of orders and offices”.



In other words, true leadership for Bonhoeffer meant a pointing away from oneself, it meant leading people to maturity and responsibility similar to how parents raise children to independence. “[H]e has to lead the individual to his own maturity… He must radically refuse to become the appeal, the idol, i.e. the ultimate authority of those whom he leads.”[2]



 



Hitler

This was just the beginning. These two visions of leadership would clash in the coming years – the self-aggrandizing versus the self-giving, the powerful versus the powerless – and Bonhoeffer would be hanged for his opposition to the Nazi regime in 1945.



Yet the crucial difference among them, if you look closely, is not how much power Hitler and Bonhoeffer got, but the central piece of each’s worldview: how they understood who God is.



Bonhoeffer had quite a clear understanding of God as a transcendent, benevolent Person, and this informed his life and vision profoundly. In regards to leadership, he declares in his 1933 address,



“Only when a man sees that office is a penultimate authority in the face of an ultimate, indescribable authority, in the face of the authority of God, has the real situation been reached… Alone before God, man becomes what he is, free and committed in responsibility at the same time.”



Hitler’s understanding of God, however, is difficult to precise, especially since he camouflaged his views to manipulate churches to his side, but certainly it was not the God of Bonhoeffer.



It seemed to be instead an amalgam of self, the German nation and the Aryan race, fused by his hatred of betrayers and Jews, and the consequences are obvious: intoxicated by power, unchecked by any transcendent notion of goodness or responsibility, Hitler spilled over ever greater levels of his toxic self.



 



Bonhoeffer with students.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity”, said Abraham Lincoln, “but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.[3]



That is so true. Power reveals who we are, and reveals even more the fundamentals of our worldview. If our God is self, or our happiness or success, power will burn in self-worship, and we will manipulate and hurt people around us.



If our God is God, however, like it was for Bonhoeffer, a good dose of power may be tempting, but we have an allegiance higher than self, goodness beyond our ego, and will point people away from ourselves and toward maturity.



And even if political power never comes our way, we will still live generously, and give of ourselves to others, and have the courage like Bonhoeffer to oppose and even foresee the havoc of someone who becomes his own god.



[1] James MacGregor Burns, Leadership (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), 108.



[2][2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as quoted in Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 141.



[3] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/give.html#oEYkcEHDrvMVDjwr.99


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Power reveals
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow

A team of Steiger mission is starting conversations about the gospel in the middst of the football celebration in Russia.

 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Being a peacemaker Being a peacemaker

Ken Sande, Founder and President of Relational Wisdom 360, develops a practical systematic theology for pursuing peace and resolving the conflicts of real life. 

 
“No one should have to leave their values at the door” “No one should have to leave their values at the door”

Author Krish Kandiah talks with politician Tim Farron about the Christian faith, politics and secularism.

 
What are the essential characteristics of a godly leader? What are the essential characteristics of a godly leader?

Clinical Pastoral Counsellor Emoke Tapolyai reflect on three characteristics Christians who have been given leadership roles should develop.

 
Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’ Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’

How can we reach those who call themselves ‘Christians’ but have not experienced a conversion to Christ? Forty missiologists and mission practitioners came together for a Lausanne Movement global consultation in Rome.

 
Trailer: “The Peace Between” Trailer: “The Peace Between”

A film about the experience of refugees in Europe. Churches, small groups and individuals are encouraged to use it during Refugee Week: 17-24 June.

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.