This is sort of a late review of the book considering I read it six months ago and have read several others since then, but I can’t help thinking that Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy was one of the best books I read this last year, maybe the best. Deitrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and a brilliant man who loved His Lord, loved theology, and loved ministry. Things took a turn for the worst in Germany when the Nazis rose quickly into power over the country during the World War II era. Bonhoeffer was a man who believed in the importance of truth and took His faith very seriously.
He grew up in a wealthy family. His mother was a church goer but his father wasn’t really into it. His father later expressed appreciation for his son’s career choice.
Bonhoeffer believed that seeing injustice done to others and doing nothing was the same as doing it and believed in standing up. This is seen throughout his battle with the “German Christians” vs the “Confessing Church.” The German Christians were a state church in league with the Nazi’s who sought to persuade Christians to blindfold themselves when reading their Bibles and to except all kinds of unbiblical injustices as good. The Confessing Church which Bonhoeffer helped lead stuck to the doctrines of the whole Bible and the words of Christ. That Christ was God’s son and God in the flesh and the only true leader of the church. During that time the Nazi’s were attempting to rewrite then Bible, church history, and history itself in order to justify their agenda. Hitler even claimed to be a christian while rising into power. The German Christians tried to pass off that Jesus was not a Jew and hated Jews.
During his life Bonhoeffer visited other countries, one of which was North America. During his visit to the United States he was turned off by much of the soft preaching he heard. During his stay I liked that he visited a “black church” during the “segregation era” and found them to be genuine in their preaching and relationship with Christ.
Bonhoeffer fell in love with a young woman who was the grand daughter of an old woman he had befriended when preaching. He had promised to marry her and began a long distance relationship with her while he worked.
Much of Bonhoeffer’s work was in secret as the Nazi’s began locking down on churches, sermons, etc. They came to the point where they were arresting pastors, executing Christians, and burning down churches.
Perhaps Bonhoeffer is best known for getting involved in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler towards the end of the war. He felt that what He was doing was right and that God had called Him to it. After the plot failed those involved were exposed and Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and martyred.
Today he is known as a great and inspiring hero and theologian who was a gentle, bold, and caring man. He stood for those who were being persecuted.
Eric Metaxas writes such a great account of Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s life and the account of the Nazified germany and where the church stood in that hour and I recommend it to anyone. It is a book that you will pickup and not want to put down until the last page.