Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review - Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived in Germany during some of the most fascinating and horrifying times of its history. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes tells his story and is an excellent book on many different levels.

In case you didn't know, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906, the youngest son of a very intellectual German family. Dietrich decided at a fairly young age to study theology and then later became a pastor and trained pastors. As the Hilter came into power and started to corrupt the German church, Bonhoeffer tried to enable the church to resist and ended up helping form the Confessing Church. Later he would take part in the German resistance and was in on the plot to assassinate Hitler. For his part in the resistance movement he was arrested and then executed for knowing of the assassination plot 2 weeks before US military reached the concentration camp where he was being held.

I understand Hitler's Germany so much more. The German resistance movement is not mentioned in many school history books beyond the sentence or two mentioning the attempt that was foiled by a heavy table. I learned more of the horror that surrounded Hitler's rule although I am sure much more was left out than was actually included. It was sad though to keep reading of friends and family of Bonhoeffer that would die in WWII - nevermind that most of them wouldn't be alive now.

What I read of Bonhoeffer's theology has me wanting to read more, not just Bonhoeffer but also Karl Barth. In my opinion, it is a good book that makes you want to learn more instead of one that leaves you satisfied with limited knowledge.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. It is long (542 pages not including the notes or index) but it is very inspiring and thought provoking. Let me put it this way, my husband was shocked to see me use a highlighter in the book because I don't write in books. I rarely find enough to underline to make it worth defacing the book. I underlined a lot in this book.

One of my favorite quotes is:

First of all I will confess quite simply -- I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we only need to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive this answer. One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. This is because in the Bible God speaks to us. And one cannot simply think about God in one's own strenght, one has to enquire of him. Only if we seek him, will he answer us. Of course it is also possible to read the Bible like any other book, that to say from the point of view of textual criticism. etc; there is nothing to be said against that. Only that that is not the method which will reveal to us the heart of the Bible, but only the surface, just as we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but simply by receiving them, so that for days they go on lingering in our minds, simply because they are the words of someone we love, and just as these words reveal more and more of the person who said them as we go on, like Mary "pondering them in our heart," so will it be with the words of the Bible.Only if we venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not will to leave us along with our questions, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This book was provided for purpose of review by Thomas Nelson but any opinions are mine