Monday, December 19, 2011

A Destiny Unto Death; Martyr By Grace

The title says it all, "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy." What other character in history do you know that was all of these? You'll be hard-pressed I'm sure, if you can think even of one.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" is a thorough and detailed glimpse into Dietrich Bonhoeffer's childhood, relationships, theology and ultimate destiny as an executed martyr of The Third Reich.

"Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" is extremely well documented with letters and writings by himself and others. Many of these letters are while he was in prison between himself and his fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer. Unfortunately the two would never be together again outside of prison and never see their dreams fulfilled for a life together.

Through author Eric Metaxas's biography, we learn how Bonhoeffer felt spiritually justified in his participation as a double-agent and key contributor in the strategies to kill Hitler. It was Hitler himself, who just weeks before his own suicide, ordered the execution of Bonhoeffer.

This biography allows readers a complete look into Bonhoeffer's life from the days before his birth all the way through complete words delivered in sermon at his memorial service.

Ultimately we come away with a view of this man, who died at only 39 years of age, as one who knew God's calling on his life and allowed himself to be used knowing the potential risk and ultimate cost.

The doctor present at his death said this: Through the half-open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.

"Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" was recently named "Book of the Year" by the ECPA, won the 2011 John C. Pollock Award for Biography awarded by Beeson Divinity School and a 2011 Christopher Award in the Non-fiction category. It is certainly not a read to be accomplished in a few sittings, but is so full of historical documentation and writings that it is certainly a worthy read and guaranteed that you will learn something new about Bonhoeffer, Hitler or both ... likely the latter.