Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

About 80 years ago, there was a man who gained unparalleled power in the modern era. He was literally worshipped by many around the world, going so far as to change church creeds to include his name. He was a brilliant military leader, controlled most of Europe, and was thought to be the German Messiah by many, sent to restore German power and prestige.

There was another German man who preached sermons, lectured at Berlin University, and ran underground seminaries that taught a handful of men what it meant to follow Christ. He wrote a few books during his short life and discipled a few men. He renounced what little power he had and served God with his whole heart. He spent the last years of his life in prison, and died behind prison walls.
From this snapshot of history, it would be hard not to conclude that Hitler would be remembered as a great military leader and Bonhoeffer would be largely forgotten. But Deitrich Bonhoeffer understood God’s power often came from quiet servitude. He studied and wrote about the Sermon on the Mount for much of his life. He knew that the meek would inherit the earth.
In the end, Hitler is remembered as a madman, whose legacy is a black mark on all of human history. Bonhoeffer’s legacy is immense. His concepts of cheap grace and his influence on key Christian leaders over the past 80 years have helped to shape history.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been reduced in Christian history as the pastor who was a part of the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. Metaxas fleshes out this narrow description of Bonhoeffer and shows him to be a pastor whose intellect and sharp thinking are matched only by his pastoral heart and his devotion to God.
From sermon excerpts to historical narratives, this book is much more than a fascinating account of an assassination attempt. It is the story of a man of God growing up in one of history’s darkest periods. It is a story of Christianity versus paganism. It is the story of hope amidst desperation. It is the story of triumph through death, victory through martyrdom.
Bonhoeffer’s legacy is enduring, and it is my prayer that this book propels his work back into the must-read lists of Christians everywhere. Bonhoeffer is easily the best book that I have read in 2010. It’s a must read for every Christian and anyone who has even the slightest interest in World War II.