Few books have enjoyed the acclaim that Bonhoefferby Eric Metaxas has garnered this year. Multiple news shows have invited Metaxas to come in and share about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Even President George Bush has taken on Metaxas’ book as his personal reading project. Sales of the book have been beyond the wildest expectations for a biography from a Christian publisher. Having recently read Bonhoeffer, I can honestly say all of the acclaim and praise that the book is getting is truly deserved.
Bonhoeffer is a powerful book. In many ways, Metaxas tells Bonhoeffer’s story with such passion and urgency that one could easily mistake the book as a novel. The book begins by sharing about Bonhoeffer’s family and his early years. It quickly moves along into Dietrich’s youth and early adulthood. As Bonhoeffer comes of age, his native Germany moves more and more toward Nazi rule. As the evils of Hitler rise, so does the character of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to oppose the lies of the Nazi party and its influence on the church. The reader is able to see Bonhoeffer’s courage in the face of tremendous opposition and in the end the reader witnesses Dietrich’s death for his Christian convictions.
Bonhoeffer is thoroughly Christian without being preachy. This is because Metaxas writes this book as a witness to an amazing man and that man’s witness to God, allowing Bonhoeffer’s life to speak for itself. He tells of his struggles and his victories. Whether we see Bonhoeffer’s passion for spiritual development of his trainees in the Confessing Church or his desperate pursuit of a place to worship that preached theologically grounded sermons when he came to America, we come to discover a man full of Christian conviction. By the end of the book, we discover a genius, scholar, and leader that refused to flee from evil in the world, but fought against evil courageously. The reader is left longing for their life to matter in the same way that Bonhoeffer’s did.
Bonhoeffer is not an easy read. The text is nearly 600 pages long. At times, reading about the middle of Bonhoeffer’s life can be tedious. Both of these realities may be enough to scare some readers off. However, those scared off by the book’s size and thoroughness will be missing out. Metaxas has written a biography that will not only be treasured by the person who purchases the book today. This book will be a book that grows in influence and respect in both faith and academic circles for years to come. – Clint Walker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double-agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Führer, and was hanged in Flossenberg concentration camp at age 39. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the 20th century.