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Do Russian Christians Need More Bonhoeffers?

Image: Illustration by Mallory Rentsch / Source Images: WikiMedia Commons

The first cleric has fallen to Russia’s new law.

Ioann Burdin of Resurrection Church in Kostroma, 215 miles northwest of Moscow, was arrested for “discrediting the Russian armed forces” in his Sunday sermon.

His parish also allegedly shared an anti-war petition.

“We, Christians, cannot stand idly by when a brother kills brother, a Christian kills a Christian,” the statement said, as reported by the BBC’s Russian service. “Let’s not repeat the crimes of those who hailed Hitler’s deeds on Sept. 1, 1939.”

Does Russia—and the world—need more like him?

Christianity Today previously reported the frustration of Ukrainian Christian leaders that their Russian counterparts should be like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The famous German theologian was executed in the waning days of the Third Reich for complicity in an assassination plot against the Fuhrer.

Ukrainian evangelicals want Russian evangelicals to at least speak out.

Hundreds have. But is it fair to ask them to do so? Russia’s new law, passed March 4, provides penalties of up to 15 years in prison for simply calling Putin’s “special military operation” a “war.”

Five European evangelical leaders advised CT on which should be paramount: safety or solidarity.

Esther in the Bible, and Bonhoeffer in history, are exceptional examples of faith. But are they normative for Christians—especially Christian leaders—in times of conflict?

Leonardo De Chirico, chair of the theological commission of the Italian Evangelical Alliance:

In a sense, the whole church has been given a prophetic responsibility to denounce evil and injustice. Then there are specific prophetic callings that individuals receive from God, and they are ready to pay the price of exposing themselves to retaliations and persecutions.

Not all of us are called to be Esthers and Bonhoeffers in all circumstances, but some should. And all should support them in the priestly role of prayer and solidarity.

Loyalty to our nations is good, although it can become an idol. But loyalty to God and his global church takes precedence. I hope and pray that believers across the nations involved will show that their unity in Christ is stronger than their national allegiances.

Marc Jost, general secretary of the Swiss Evangelical Alliance: I was very pleased and encouraged to hear…

This article was originally published at Christianity Today on March 11, 2022. Please click here to read the full text.

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