Those pastors and Christians who did not accept this unholy alliance of church and state, withdrew and formed the Confessing Church. They insisted that Christ and Christ alone (not the state, nor a political party, nor a temporal leader) was the Head of the Christian Church. (Eph 1.22-23)
This is the moment when (for us) Dietrich Bonhoeffer steps into the frame. At 29 years-of-age, he was already a well-known and respected scholar and pastor, who had been early and prompt in speaking out to warn against the encroaching dangers of National Socialism and especially its leader-worshipping cult and its unabashed anti-Semitism. In 1935, the Confessing Church asked him to set up and run a seminary for their ordinands. This call he eagerly embraced, setting to work on the Baltic coast, in the little backwater of Finkenwalde.
This seminary existed for a little over two years, before being forcibly closed down by order of SS boss, Heinrich Himmler himself. Nevertheless, I believe that what took place there is of ultimate prophetic significance and importance, because it was the direct result of a head-on clash between the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of antichrist. And this is precisely what we anticipate is going to take place in a full-blown and completely overt way immediately before Jesus returns.
And the absolute essence, the crux and the kernel of that which Dietrich Bonhoeffer brought into being and nurtured and led (into immediate confrontation with the powers of darkness) was" life together". This should be an alarming assertion for our contemporary Western Church, because it is my considered and settled conviction that we are presently trending (hurtling?) in the opposite direction. For example, people rushing in and out of Sunday "worship" to make way for the next batch in their multi-service, mega-churches. Similarly, the alarming and stealthy seduction of thousands of Christians into the virtual (and therefore non-) reality of TV-faith and computer-church!
Describing Finkenwalde in the sketchiest and most skeletal terms possible, it was a place where teacher and students lived cheek-by-jowl, leading a "common Christian life", in circumstances which the more cultured in their midst considered "primitive". (4) These "young theologians" all slept in one room, packed with (up to 25) beds. They pored over the Bible-unadorned in small groups in studies furnished meagerly with "a desk, a shelf, and some chairs". But most importantly of all (and most aggravating for some) was the "strict liturgical ordering of the day" (along semi-monastic lines) into set times of corporate prayer, which relied heavily and hinged upon the Psalms...ironically, the hymnal of those then so hated by the Nazis.
In 1933-34, Dietrich Bonhoeffer had been in England, and during his time there had visited Anglican religious-monastic communities. Even then he seemed to be searching for inspiration for building "an effective, dynamic nucleus" that could function "within the ruins of the (German) Church". Returning home to his nation and Church's "difficult situation", he had already decided that "the restoration of the Church will undoubtedly stem from a new form of monasticism"!