On a rare occasion I get so involved in a book that it becomes real to me. The characters come to life. The story envelops me with its mental imagery and emotion. And when you finish, it’s like emerging from another world that existed for only a short while.
And on an even rarer occasion, a book about real people does the same.
Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Germany, prior to and during World War II. He was an outspoken critic of the Nazis, and his criticism—and ultimately his actions—were driven by his understanding of Scripture and his convictions about God. He saw great evil in Hitler and his crew, even before Hitler came to power. And as Hitler destroyed the Germany Bonhoeffer loved, Bonhoeffer spoke against Hitler. He spoke and acted in defense of the Jews. He spoke and acted in defense of a biblically-based Church. He spoke and acted against the heretical church of the Third Reich.
And you can’t help but ask yourself what would you do in the same situation.
Are you passionate about God’s Church, to the point of standing against a tyrannical church-state partnership that wishes to redefine what you believe?
Are you so in love with the Word of God that you will stand against the popular, acceptable claims as to what it means. And are you willing to speak against those who twist God’s Word to fulfill their own desires and plans?
And are you so secure in your stand before God, a stand that is based upon faith alone in the sovereign plan of God that existed before time began, that you would calmly face your execution in a way that impacted those who witnessed it for decades to come?
While you may not agree with everything Bonhoeffer stood for, his life is an example to us all. And his life, and death, should force us to go to Scripture to answer these questions and more.
I look forward to meeting Pastor Bonhoeffer when God calls me home. In the meantime, we have to be satisfied with an incredible biography that grips you like a novel and won’t let you go until you say goodbye to your new friend.
Thank you Eric Metaxas for writing this book. And thank you Dietrich Bonhoeffer for living it.