A Righteous Gentile vs. The Third Reich: A Review of “Bonhoeffer” by Eric Metaxas

Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

When God has you, every part of you, hold on tight. He’s going to take you for a ride. Eric Metaxas, in his biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy shows us what God can and will do through a person who surrenders his/her will at the feet of the cross. If you have not read this book, I plead with you to do so.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer surrendered his life to the One who gave him life itself. He quoted, preached from, and lived by 2 Chronicles 20:12, “We do not know what to do, but we look to you.” This is what life with Christ and in Christ is – we look to Him for everything.

A Righteous Gentile vs. The Third Reich: A Review of “Bonhoeffer” by Eric Metaxas

If you’re not familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he was a German theologian, pastor, and conspirator against the Third Reich – Nazi Germany. 

He was a man of conviction, thoughtfulness, complexity, simplicity, boldness, and kindness. He enjoyed a good debate. He valued another person’s view, especially when they had thought it through.

He was committed to the truth he knew from Scripture. Not just truth in the realm of thought, but truth played out in everyday life. And it would cost him his life.

A Conspirator, A Christ Follower

Bonhoeffer saw Hitler’s rise to power and opposed him from the beginning. He saw patterns that, at first seemed to be quite controversial and heinous, and then played out to their end, turned out to be one of the clearest pictures of evil incarnate we’ve ever seen.

Bonhoeffer worked against the Nazis when they began to take over the German Church. He worked against the Nazis when they began requiring Jews to be excluded from the Church. He defended the Jews time and time again.

He trained pastors. He ministered to congregants.

He made connections all across Europe in his travels that would prove to be instrumental in his work, along with many others, against Hitler.

Through smuggling Jews out of Germany in Operation 7, through being a double agent in the Abwehr, and, ultimately, being in the ongoing conspiracy against the Third Reich that ultimately led to Valkyrie, Bonhoeffer walked with his eyes on his Savior in the face of evil.

A conspirator and a Christ follower. If you think the two contradict, I understand. As a double agent and as a prisoner, Bonhoeffer engaged in deceit. And he knew that fact quite well. And while your theology may keep you from doing such a thing, Bonhoeffer, confronted with the evil of his time, saw it as his duty to his Lord to put his faith and the opposition that was necessitated by his faith to action.

Bonhoeffer didn’t make flippant decisions. He had determined that because of his theology, because of what God desired for him in that time, he had to leave the sidelines and get into the “game.”

My Wife Laughed… A Lot

As I worked my way through this 542-page behemoth of a book, I would chuckle and then read a paragraph to Sara. She would laugh. After this happened, again and again, she started accusing me of being his twin. Bonhoeffer, no let’s call him Dietrich (we’re on a first-name basis because of this), had a personality that I continued to find quite similar to mine.

If I could have coffee with someone who has passed from this life to the next, it would be Dietrich. Maybe we can arrange that when I join him on the other side of glory, by God’s grace.

Please Read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

I could never come close to expressing my thoughts and feelings as to my appreciation for Metaxas’ work and to my deep desire for more people to read about Bonhoeffer. Prior to reading this biography, I’ve read one of Bonhoeffer’s books, The Cost of Discipleship, but now I know the man behind the book and certainly plan on reading more of his work.

Please, please, do yourself a favor and read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

Have You Read Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas?

If you have, what were your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation by leaving a comment below, posting on Facebook, or sending me a tweet.

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Brandon is the Spiritual Development Pastor at The Crossing, a church plant on the east side of Cincinnati. He is the author of Crucified to Life and Preaching Sticky Sermons. His passion is helping people discover hope and transformation in Christ. He & his wife, Sara & their daughters, Kairea & Piper, live on the east side of Cincinnati with their two dogs.

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