I mentioned in a recent sermon that I read a wonderful book loaned to me from Meg Slater called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. I had read some of Bonhoeffer writings in the past and considered him to be a remarkable prophet for the Christian church so I was intrigued to read this book. Long before others espoused such insight, Bonhoeffer was promoting the ideology that religion was perilous and dead and that Jesus was a irreligious radical figure that most Christians drastically misunderstood. Metaxas takes the time to fully demonstrate Bonhoeffer’s radical thinking in this regard. Metaxas also details the period of history in which Bonhoeffer lived and eventually died. Since WW2 history, and the time leading up to it, are of great personal interest to me (just check out my other blog posts to see what I mean from the books I choose to read) this book brought together two intensely interesting aspects of history for me. So as you might guess, I could not have enjoyed this book more.
I just finished re-reading a book on the leadup to WW2 by Winston Churchill. I was marked by the similarities of the two men. Both, long before others, could see with clarity the absolute evil of Adolf Hitler. Both men believed that assertive action was required to stop him. This desire for action, to the point of joining an assassination plot against Hitler, caused much personal tension with Bonhoeffer in light of his pacifist understanding of Jesus teaching on the Sermon on the Mount. This is likely the most fascinating and equally confusing insight into Bonhoeffer’s life and character. Metaxas does well to attempt to define the ethical juggling act going on in Bonhoeffer’s mind through this time. Although, others have recruited Bonhoeffer to the pacifist cause, I would likely not do so. He seemed a strong nationalist (absent of two kingdom theology) that was convinced of the unjustness of Hitler’s cause and opposed it for both nationalist reasons and theological ones.
There is so much to admire in the man and one cannot help but wonder as to what wonderful contributions he may have made to Christian thinking had his life not been cut so prematurely short.
NOTE: This post represents my personal reading and not the reading that I do on a weekly basis in preparation for Sunday teaching. My sermon reading is mostly theology books and commentaries and news posts that offer illustrative affect.