From the New York Times bestselling author of Amazing Grace, a groundbreaking biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the greatest heroes of the twentieth century, the man who stood up to Hitler.
A definitive, deeply moving narrative, Bonhoeffer is a story of moral courage in the face of the monstrous evil that was Nazism.
After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double-agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Fuhrer, and was hanged in Flossenberg concentration camp at age 39. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the 20th century.
Bonhoeffer presents a profoundly orthodox Christian theologian whose faith led him to boldly confront the greatest evil of the 20th century, and uncovers never-before-revealed facts, including the story of his passionate romance. Reviews
I selected this book from the Vine list because I had seen a play about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and wanted to know more about his life and his influences. Eric Metaxas writes an interesting bio of Bonhoeffer - well researched and well written.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was - as most readers of this book will already know - was one of the martyrs of Nazi Germany. A well-known Lutheran pastor, Bonhoeffer was descended on both sides of his family from distinguished churchmen, jurists, scholars, and doctors. One of eight children, Bonhoeffer was brought up in Prussia and Berlin in a family that raised their children according to ethical standards. Several of his immediate relatives were involved in the various plots against Hitler and most paid, as Dietrich did, with their lives.
Bonhoeffer died relatively young, in his late thirties, having accomplished more than most people twice his age. Noted pastor, writer, and philosopher, he was against the Nazi takeover of first the German state and then the German Lutheran church. He was one of the founders of the "Confessing Church", which stood up to Nazi power. Powerful thinker and speaker, he was a leader of the "opposition" to Hitler, which manifested itself basically in poorly conceived and unluckyly carried out plots to assassinate Hitler. Rounded up in 1943 as part of a group working with Admiral Canaris of the German Abwehr, he was imprisoned until his hanging in the very last days of WW2 in Europe.
Metaxas writes an exacting biography of Bonhoeffer and his times.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas:
This book was of particular interest to me, as my husband had just returned from a trip to Poland where he visited the concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkeneau and returned home with a photojournalistic story of this great tragedy.
The author of The cost of Discipleship and Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a remarkable theologian and devoted Christian. When I received the book in the mail, I was surprised at the size of the volume. It was a bit intimidating, as my time is limited, but once I began reading, I found it difficult to step away. The book shares in detail Bonhoeffers family history, his childhood, and takes the reader through his own trail of spiritual growth and discovery. Ultimately he grew into a man who lived what he believed and was a courageous disciple.
I enjoyed reading about his childhood, family and learning more about the background of this great man because they helped shape the "who" of Mr. Bonhoeffer. He was and is a hero of faith and reading everything leading up to his imprisonment and death connects the reader on an emotional level with the story.
The world was a better place because he lived.
I give this book 5 our of 5 stars.
As a youth pastor and church planter, I've often been drawn to and have enjoyed the writings and quotations of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; however, I never knew the story of the man behind the pen. This is why I was excited when given the opportunity to read his first major biography in 40 years. I was even more excited when finding out that the biography had been authored by Eric Metaxas, author of the New York Times Best Seller "Amazing Grace."
Metaxas does an incredible job sharing Bonhoeffer's life story. From infancy to death, we learn about a man who stayed committed to the Lord's will. We follow his journey through childhood, to seminary, through Hitler's reign, a World War, a sad and yet incredibly passionate romance while secretly being a double agent for Military Intelligence, prison, and finally a martyr's death.
What intrigued me most is Bonhoeffer's journey to discovering the true kingdom of heaven, social justice, and peace. His discovery and stand for incarnational living is an encouragement to someone who has been on the same discovery several year's later.
Dietrich looked at the life of a Christian holistically - a life which (because of the church and religion) had lost it's connection to humanity and should exist for OTHERS. His experiences in Germany among the Jews and his travels to America and seeing slavery first hand opened his eyes to the realization that Christ' love was not evident among all people and that "the church" was not portraying the God found written in the Scriptures.
One of his first theological questions was posed to his mother: "Does God love the chimney sweep too?" From a small child's question to a theologian's despair, Metaxas explores Bonhoeffer's charge that everyone needs to "wake up and stop playing church."
Bonhoeffer described the church as a "social corporation" that spent it's time "persuading new residents" to join their group led by pastors "lobbying for membership." In my words, the "country club" church that's more concerned with keeping those happy who "pay their dues" and forgetting those who need to see Christ and experience His love outside the church's walls.
He declared that the church must: "stand with those who suffer", "reach out beyond itself", "speak up for the voiceless", and "defend the weak and fatherless". He preached that the church had "forgotten what the point is."
"Has it not perhaps become an obstruction blocking the path to God instead of a road sign on the path to God?" This is just one of the many questions that he raised while seeking out church that more resembled the life of Christ.
Bonhoeffer was even disturbed by the churches he found when visiting America. After weekends of frustration in church services in New York City, he finally found a good balance of social justice and truth at a church in Harlem, a relationship that led him on a trip to the south and allowing him an "intimate view" of racial situation in America. At one point, he commented, "the way the southerners talk about the Negroes is simply repugnant, and in this regard the pastors are no better than the others."
Though quite exhaustive and long, I believe that this well-written and timely biography would greatly intrigue any reader, writer, philosopher, theologian, or historian. Although my greatest blessing came from reviewing Bonhoeffer's holistic and incarnational approach to a life lived for Jesus, Metaxas offers something for everyone in his latest writing. A must read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <[...]> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood on God's word as he stood against and was martyred by the fascist regime of Hitler's Nazi Germany. Like many, I knew what Bonhoeffer did, but I did not know who he was. Metaxas allows us to see how God had prepared Bonhoeffer for the greatest test of his life. A life he would give in order to stand on the absolute truth of God's word.
However, it wasn't the Bonhoeffer that went against the wishes of his parents and older brothers by studying theology that would be martyred for his faith, it was the Bonhoeffer that came to America and was transformed by his time worshipping at Abyssinian Baptist Church and Community House in Harlem - an African American church led by Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., the son of slaves. In fact, Bonhoeffer was such a transformed man upon his return to Germany that some believe it was during his time at Abyssinian that he was born again.
This is a great book for not only obtaining a historical perspective about one of the giants of our faith, but to be encouraged by the example of how God can use anyone who is willing to, by faith, obey Him. Thomas Nelson provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my reviewing it, but with no obligation as to whether or not I would recommend it to others. I wholeheartedly give it my recommendation.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is a biography of one the most intellectual, faithful men of God the church has seen, especially during World War 2 in Nazi Germany. This book does not just focus on his work and his involvement in the Valkyrie and Stauffenberg, but his whole life, showing how his family's faith and intellect help form his thinking and visionary way of doing church. The book starts off not with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but a listing of the lineage he comes from, showing how he comes from a family of thinkers and intellects, a family embedded in German pride. Then through his life, his childhood, schooling, travels to various countries, and ultimately to his capture, imprisonment, time in Buchenwald concentration camp, and death by hanging at Flossenburg Camp on April 5th 1945.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would wholeheartedly recommend it to others. I had been aware of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and that he was a great man during World War 2, but that was all I knew. Eric Metaxas does a great job of giving us as much information about Dietrich as possible. The knowledge of his family history and knowing how much they were apart of his life was touching. Seeing him grow and form his intellect and faith, and applying them was amazing. Watching him stand against the evil of Hitler for his faith was inspiring. Reading of his imprisonment and death were heart breaking. Metaxas gets you fully invested in Bonhoeffer's life. You feel connected to him in a special way, almost as if you were his friend.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing for providing this complimentary book for review.