Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

I’m halfway through Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, far enough to suggest you add this biography to your summer reading list.  A 500-page book about the life of a German theologian many have never heard of may seem an odd choice for beach reading, but Metaxas does a phenomenal job of pushing forward a very compelling narrative.

I’ve always thought Dietrich Bonhoeffer has much to say to our contemporary churches; the historic context provided in this biography- massive cultural shifts, impending wars, churches in allegiance to the state- makes his thoughtful conviction all the more prescient for our day.

Still not sure you’d appreciate this book?

Collin Hansen has a brief interview with Metaxas over at Christianity Today.  One of the most fascinating parts of the book for me thus far covers Bonhoeffers time studying at Union Theological Seminary in New York.  Hansen asks,

What did Bonhoeffer think of America? How did his visits affect him?

Bonhoeffer was hardly affected by his studies at Union. In letters sent home, he sneered at what passed for theology in the U.S. But a trip to Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem changed everything. He saw the full-throated gospel of Christ for perhaps the first time in his life. The worship and sermons stunned him. He’d seen the real thing, a Christianity based on wholehearted devotion to Jesus. When he returned to Germany, everyone could see that he was different. The experience deepened his faith quite dramatically.

And should you finish the biography and decide you’re ready to dip into the primary sources, Matt Miller has put together a Bonhoeffer reading plan along with the reasons he lays the books out in the order he does.  It’s not a comprehensive list- I would have liked to see Letters and Papers from Prison included- but it’s a great start.  And a reminder that I have more Bonhoeffer reading to look forward to.

Anyone picked up the Bonhoeffer biography yet?  Any thoughts?

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