“Bring Polycarp!” someone else shouted, and thus the manhunt for the bishop of Smyrna began. He wasn’t hard to catch. He was eighty-six years old and power scooters hadn’t been invented yet. So soon, the crowd brought him before the proconsul for questioning. Things went south fairly fast. The proconsul wanted Polycarp to deny his faith and go home, which seemed like a reasonable request. But alas, Polycarp refused. Losing his patience, the judge yelled, “Out with the atheist!” To which Polycarp yelled back. “Yes! Out with the atheists!” And he pointed to the crowd. Well, that didn’t help.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and a pacifist who struggled with how to be true to his convictions while battling one of the greatest evils of the twentieth century. His inspirational story is as relevant today as it has ever been.