At least from where I’m sitting it is a drab, wet, gray not-quite-autumn afternoon, so I thought that I might post a question that has been surfacing in my mind recently.
A couple weeks ago I had someone challenge me on the martyrdom and actions of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer has been formative in the way that I think about the things of God, so I have to admit that the idea of the German theologian being a hero was one that probably got past my filters without a whole lot of thought.
The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer ends with his execution just before the end of Wold War II after having participated in covert operations with the goal of assassinating Adolph Hitler. The argument against his actions would be simple, that vengeance belongs to the Lord, that no matter how justified a murder might seem, that the ends don’t justify the means. Participating in an assassination plot was an act that showed a lack of faith in a sovereign God.
The other side of the debate goes to another man that, though fictional, is also usually thought of as a hero. One of the defining characteristics of the modern Batman lies in his willingness to do whatever needs to be done to protect Gotham City and bring criminals to justice. There is only one thing that is truly off the table… Batman is not willing to take judgment into his own hands and kill those that he stalks through those dark nights.
The common criticism of Batman’s methods is that by never taking that last step he allows these criminals to break out of the local asylum or prison to prey on the people of Gotham once again. If Batman were willing to take life and death into his own hands, to become executioner, far fewer people would be hurt or even killed within his city.
It’s definitely a debate that I can see both sides of. What do you think?