Home REVIEWS BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

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Perhaps it is somewhat odd to review a biography. It is the first of such on this website. As I read this book, published in 2010, and well lauded then, it was brand new to me. When I picked it up some weeks ago and began to read of a life that was a clear division in both practical Christianity and the higher theology that Bonhoeffer had been a prodigy in early in his life. The life of this man has long been examined thru his examination of cheap grace (grace that doesn’t cost is not worth much), and his life, dedicated to living out a grace that eventually resulted in his murder by the Nazis, at the very least, gives great force to his belief. 

Author: Eric Metaxas. Publisher: Thomas Nelson. Pages:592

The issues addressed in this book are far-reaching.  For instance, this book forces us to look at ourselves in profoundly troubling ways. First, the Lutheran church of the preceding generation of theologians had reduced Scripture to history instead of a present, living Word.  As such, they were able to be moved to support Adolf Hitler because of this.  Hitler, after all, was not against a church, but he was adamantly opposed to a church that lived out what the Bible said, and thus was able to co-opt the Lutheran church as well as the Catholic Church.     

Second, this view of higher theology INEVITABLY turns to such; that it produces historians and eliminates the daily interaction of the Holy Spirit in the life of man. This is why the vast majority of high churches are absolutely dead. We, as Apostolics, ought to be exceedingly careful with our handling of theologies of those professors that are from seminaries that have similar leanings.  It is the recipe for accepting what the Lutheran church accepted in Hitler and far more troubling, the fact that we eliminate the Spirit-led life where the Word has no currency in our real day to day existence.

Third, the idea of pacifism is addressed with great care.  Bonhoeffer was not a pacifist; he was part of a plot to kill Hitler.  What the book forces us to understand is that the government does not decide whether a war is righteous or not.  That is a decision that MUST be judged by us on an individual basis for EVERY INDIVIDUAL WAR.  In the country of Germany, the draft was instituted and since he was convinced that this war was immoral, he would not participate.  We, as the church, cannot relinquish the right to judge this justly.  In other words, unholy leaders do not get to decide our morality as a higher authority governs us. Metaxas’ book is soul searching because in the crucible of terror, and demonic nature of Hitler’s regime we find the distilled and essential: it rocks our foundations when we both vote and live in society. This book is VERY personal and will speak to your presumptions IF you allow it to do so.

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