PERHAPS MORE THAN any other person, the twentieth-century German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, hanged by the Nazis, helped us realize the profound connection to Jesus available through the Psalms. When we pray the Psalms, we not only say prayers that point to Jesus’ life but also say the prayer of Jesus; in praying the Psalms we become joined to the one great prayer that is Jesus himself.
Throughout Adolf Hitler’s reign as chancellor of Germany, Bonhoeffer opposed Germany’s anti-Jewish laws. When Hitler declared the church of Germany to be the state church, Bonhoeffer helped form the Confessing Church, a church that opposed the accommodated, national church. Though illegal, the Confessing Church continued to train pastors.
Bonhoeffer himself ran an illegal, underground seminary for several years before the Gestapo closed it. After the seminary was closed, Bonhoeffer wrote his classic book Life Together