In his new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas observes of the German pastor-theologian: “In his book Ethics…Bonhoeffer wrote about the way people worship success. The topic fascinated him. He referred to it in his letter from Barcelona many years earlier, in which he observed the fickleness of the crowds at bullfights, how they roared for the toreador one moment and for the bull the next. It was success they wanted, success more than anything. In Ethics, he wrote:

“‘In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things, the figure of Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is at best an object of pity. The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success. It is not ideas or opinions which decide, but deeds. Success alone justifies wrongs done…With a frankness and off-handedness which no other earthly power could permit itself, history appeals in its own cause to the dictum that the end justifies the means…The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard.’

“God was not interested in success, but in obedience. If one obeyed God and was willing to suffer defeat and whatever else came one’s way, God would show a kind of success that the world couldn’t imagine. But this was the narrow path, and few would take it.” (Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy)

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