Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Regular Poster
Hooray! I'm so glad this board is here! Now I can post something that I've been turning over in my mind for quite a while now.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who was involved in the resistance movement against the Nazis before and during the Second World War, including the failed assassination plot against Hitler, for which he was eventually executed, just weeks before the war ended in Europe. Here's the Wikipedia article for more biographical details:

Anyway, I've never seen him included on any type lists, probably because he isn't so well-known in the English-speaking world, though he's as much of a national hero in Germany as Martin Luther King, Jr. is in the US. But he should be, I think. He's a wonderful example of what an INFJ's life can be.

Here's why I think he had INFJ preferences:

1. NF/Catalyst/Idealist temperament. Evident right off the bat, if you've read his works/anything about him.

2. He was definitely an introvert. Bonhoeffer grew up in a large family, but from what I've read, he needed time and space for himself to function. When his parents built a house in Berlin, he asked to have a small room on the top floor, removed from everyone else's hustle and bustle, where he could read and write and play the piano. (I've seen pictures of this room, and it looks like one I'd like to have - particularly the antique piano!)

3. His preference was for Extraverted Feeling, not Introverted Feeling. He wrote a book called "Life Together" which is practically an Fe manifesto. (In a nutshell, it's about being a good member of the Christian community, and it includes admonishments such as (paraphrasing here), "Don't just jump in with an alto part when everyone else in the congregation is singing the melody in unison. That's prideful, and therefore bad for the group.")

And here's the most telling evidence of all (for me, at least): Bonhoeffer believed in non-violence, so much so that he had plans to go to India to study with Gandhi (he was never able to). However, this non-violence was not the absolute non-negotiable for Bonhoeffer that it was for Gandhi*. Gandhi said, "I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill." Bonhoeffer was a little more flexible. He said yes, violence is bad, but if a madman is driving a car that is about to plow into a sidewalk crowded with innocent people, it is the Christian's responsibility not just to minister to the wounded, but to wrench control of the steering wheel from the driver's hands. Bonhoeffer even said that if it came to him to shoot Hitler himself, he would have done it. He didn't reach this position lightly: It was something that he agonized over. But he reached the conclusion that being a role model of passive resistance a la Gandhi wasn't enough in this situation.

So...there you go. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, INFJ. Does anyone have any thoughts - agree or disagree?

Oh, and could we please keep the discussion mainly on typology, and not dissolve into religious/political fights that lead nowhere? Thanks! :)

*I am well-aware that Gandhi is usually called an INFJ, but I see Dominant Introverted Feeling there, and I know I'm not the only one!
Elizabeth said:
So...there you go. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, INFJ. Does anyone have any thoughts - agree or disagree?
Based on your fine assessment, I agree!!!!!!! Good man.

I have wondered about Thomas Merton, too, although historical circumstances were quite different.
A response! I'm so glad! :D

I must say that I don't know much about Thomas Merton...I must look him up.