Dietrich Bonhoeffer & The Rainbow Bridge

One Christian martyr of the Twentieth Century was the great German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is noted for authoring many Christian books such as “The Cost of Discipleship.” His central theme was for Christians not to fall for something he called “cheap grace.” Although we are saved by grace and not of works, Christ demands something of us. As the great English hymn writer Isaac Watts wrote, “Love so amazing, so Divine, Demands my Soul, my Life, my All.” This is basically Bonhoeffer’s thesis opposing “cheap grace.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As one can imagine, many of Bonhoeffer’s ideas were very complex and he taught them in a graduate level seminary in Germany, the home of Luther’s Reformation. Although Dr. Bonhoeffer was a learned professor who wrote and taught advanced theology, on Sunday mornings he did not teach such complex things. His first love was teaching children’s Sunday School. He could get down to basics and he loved the kids. He loved their natural inquisitiveness and curiosity. Children are uninhibited and they don’t hold back.

One Sunday morning, a young lad was uncharacteristically somber. Something was bothering him. When pressed, the little fellow broke down and Dr. Bonhoeffer learned that the lad had lost his best friend—his dog. The professor offered his condolences to the little guy. Then he asked his little Bible student what his dog’s name was. The lad looked up with tears on his little cheeks and said, “Herr Wolf.” (Mr. Wolf in English). The boy said that “Mr. Wolf” was a German (what else?) Shepherd that kept him safe at all times. 

The boy had a question for the professor, “Is ‘Mr. Wolf’ in Heaven?”

There were no theological courses containing the Rainbow Bridge as the subject, but Dr. Bonhoeffer looked into the lad’s tear filled eyes and knelt down to eye level. “The Bible does not actually say if dogs go to Heaven,” the professor explained. “We know that all God’s creatures will be in the Lord’s Kingdom on the new earth. Some will be changed as there will be no more predator and prey. We know that the Lord is pleased by all creatures and Heaven is designed for the Lord’s pleasure. I believe you will see ‘Mr. Wolf’ in Heaven.”

The Rainbow Bridge

The lad lifted his eyes, and they lit up. His countenance changed from despair to happiness. Dr. Bonhoeffer thought he would enjoy his beloved pet again someday in a place where God Himself would be the light of all. The thought of seeing “Mr. Wolf” again brought the youngster peace.

When I read that account in Bonhoeffer’s biography (Eric Metaxas) I thought of the hope that we all have of being reunited with our friends and loved ones someday. We are given precious little information about Heaven, but we know it’s all good all the time. We will see all the saints, prophets, apostles, and, of course, the King of Kings.

Perhaps you’ll see a young fellow walking on the golden streets with his best friend at his heels. Maybe his Sunday School teacher will be at his side reaching down to pet “Mr. Wolf”, one of God’s many mongrels who gives pleasure to both God and man.

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