- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 18 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1595551387
- ISBN-13: 978-1595551382
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.7 x 23.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 771 g
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #124,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy Hardcover – Apr 18 2010
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About the Author
Eric Metaxas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of If You Can Keep It, Bonhoeffer, Amazing Grace, and Miracles. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, and Metaxas has appeared as a cultural commentator on CNN, the Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. He is the host of The Eric Metaxas Show, a nationally syndicated daily radio show. Metaxas is also the founder and host of Socrates in the City, the acclaimed series of conversations on “life, God, and other small topics,” featuring Malcolm Gladwell, Dick Cavett, and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, among many others. He is a senior fellow and lecturer at large at the King’s College in New York City, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
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First, there can be no doubt that one of the key issues that Bonhoeffer must respond to throughout his early life is the way the German Church - the church of the reformation that has so highlighted the importance of scripture, salvation and reconciliation with God by grace through the redeeming work of Christ on the cross - the German Church had adopted habits, that made it vulnerable to collaborating with government abuse of different populations. The German church is portrayed as simply offering up all kinds of deep compromise to the NAZIs. This biography begs the question: how do you interpret scripture in a way that will make you stand in the face of evil, cover your neighbor's back, look after the poor and the rejected, even if it means your end? To what extent will you go?
Second, the question takes on even more depth when applied to each individual's personal life. The question is not how to live your life without sin, without making mistakes. The question is: How do you respond with your entire life to God's calling? This question is incredibly significant in the face of a modern day Christianity that is strong on cultural judgement and too often thin on judging the atrocities and calamities that go on all over the world. As image bearers, are we concerned with avoiding a "bad life" rather than fully living the life that God has redeemed and made new.
Third, this biography is masterfully written by someone who has really done much careful historical work. I have read many works on the rise of the NAZI Party and the conditions that provided the context for the atrocities of WWII. I have learned much in this book about the intricate plans by the NAZIs to co-opt the German Church and, in an Orwellian fashion reminiscent of more explicit Stalinian tactics, allow the church to survive as an institution while removing completely all of its power and significance. There is much in this book that expresses NAZI thinking about Christianity and God and the role of believing Christians in the German resistance.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the specifics of the Bonhoeffer story are remarkable. His uneasy beginnings in theology, his experience of the American church, his work with the Confessing German Church and his early stands against some of the troublesome actions of the more traditional German Church, his work with the community of ordinands and his devotion to people, to service, even in prison, even at the dawn of his own execution. His desire to marry, start a family, to keep friends and to cherish them, to enjoy them, his bouts of depression. His struggle with the great issues that he faced and the choices that he made, especially as he engaged in a plot to assassinate Hitler. Above all, his refusal to live a life where the easy decisions are made that take you away from responding to God's calling. Metaxas makes a wonderful point, drawn from Bonhoeffer's thoughts on Ethics, about three quarters of the way through the book where he claims that not wanting to make mistakes will take you away from action that reflects God's presence. But deciding to take action will almost certainly confront you with different other dilemmas and force you to make other decisions. Being an image bearer is not an easy path.
This biography, like few other books, leaves the reader with the same question that haunted Bonhoeffer: How do you respond with your entire life to God's call? A question for the ages.
He was a courageous Christian with an excellent gift of discernment.
IMO the long quotes from his and Maria's love letters should have been Reader's Digest like paraphrases instead.
I have since recommended this book to many friends and have bought 2 copies to loan out.
Bravo to Eric Metaxas for his detailed and sensitive treatment of this important historical character.