909 internautes sur 931 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
John A. Bird
- Publié sur Amazon.com
On the morning of April 9, 1945, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed at Flossenburg concentration camp. The camp doctor, H. Fischer-Hullstrung, later remembered:
[Just before the execution] "I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer kneeling on the floor, praying fervently to God...so certain that God heard his prayer...I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God."
Others testified that, up to his last day, the 39 year old Bonhoeffer remained cheerful. He knew what he had to do, was reconciled to God's will, and was able to climb the steps to the gallows "brave and composed."
Who was this man who died so bravely--who Hitler himself, from his bunker beneath Berlin just three weeks before his suicide, ordered to be "destroyed?" He's the subject of best-selling author Eric Metaxas's new biography, "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy."
Shortly after his conversion in 1988, Metaxas read Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship and learned the story of the young man who, "because of his Christian faith stood up to the Nazis and ultimately gave his life." From then on, he was determined to tell the story to others. And tell it he has.
Metaxas takes readers, in 592 pages, through Bonhoeffer's entire life, from his parent's courtship to his memorial service. No corner of the subject's life is left unexplored. Through the author's use of Bonhoeffer's personal letters to family and friends, earlier biographies, interviews with those who knew Bonhoeffer, and other thorough research, readers get a comprehensive and balanced look into one of recent history's greatest theologians.
Appropriately, Metaxas emphasizes Bonhoeffer's theology and how it played out in his life. In contrast to "cheap grace," Bonhoeffer believed that true grace influences all aspects of a Christian's life. Christianity is more than formal religion, and it requires believers to be willing to sacrifice everything to God. Christianity is also more than legalistic morality. Ethics, according to Bonhoeffer, can't be reduced to a set of rules. These beliefs are what led this humble and devout follower of Christ to be involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler.
How Christianity and assassination plots can be reconciled is hard for many to fathom--especially those who have lived only in peace and safety. We must consider Bonhoeffer in the context of his life, his country, and the war that he had no choice but to be a part of. Ethics, once so clear, become unclear. Do we lie to the Nazis, or do we give them information that leads to the deaths of innocents? Do we obey our nation's laws, or do we defy them by leading Jews into safety? Do we fight in Hitler's army, or do we refuse, knowing that we will be beheaded and leave our family destitute? These are some of the questions Bonhoeffer faced.
But readers can sympathize with Bonhoeffer. Metaxas masterfully puts us in his world. We celebrate with him in his family's parlor. We study with him in his illegal seminary. We watch with him as his world unravels. And we see him agonize over decisions, decisions that are not so clear, and decisions that he often had to make without the support of others.
Metaxas's "Bonhoeffer" will be one of the best books of the year. I've learned, as expected, much about the life of a great and inspiring Christian. But I've also learned about the world, sin and evil, what it really means to be a Christian, and what it really means to live. There are a few books that, years after I have read them, I realize have had a great influence on me. This will be one of them. You can't go wrong with this book; I give it my highest recommendation.
I received a free review copy of this book through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program.
169 internautes sur 177 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I first learned of the impending publication of Eric Metaxas' book Bonhoeffer in 2009. Having read his stellar biography of William Wilberforce (Amazing Grace) in 2007, I knew I'd certainly enjoy this one. The wait did not disappoint.
Mr. Metaxas once again combines his wit and intelligence to recreate the life of one of God's servants, this time Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Not knowing much about Bonhoeffer before cracking open the book, I immediately felt drawn to him through Mr. Metaxas' writing, intimate and personal without being hokey or homespun. Bonhoeffer's story is one that is translatable to any time, any country, any person who feels called to stand for uncompromised righteousness. The narrative of Bonhoeffer's life is completed with sparkling commentary on politics in early twentieth century Germany. Metaxas clearly devoted untold hours researching the life of Bonhoeffer. One little known story - that of Bonhoeffer's relationship with his fiancee Maria - is told in full.
Brilliantly combined in the narrative are excerpts from Bonhoeffer's personal letters to friends and family. Metaxas uses these letters to vividly outline the essence of Bonheoffer - in his own words. One sees his devotion to family and the importance his played in his life, his fervent devotion to the Bible as the accurate and complete Word of God, and his unwavering faith and obedience in spite of the call to suffer and, ultimately, die for the cause of Christ.
Learning about Bonhoeffer's life has only made me curious to read his work. I have a feeling I'll soon be devouring every book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer I can find. And I'm waiting patiently for Eric Metaxas' next biography. He's sure to not disappoint.
82 internautes sur 87 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
George P. Wood
- Publié sur Amazon.com
"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote those words in The Cost of Discipleship, which was first published in 1937. Eight years later, on April 9, 1945, he answered Christ's bidding and was executed by the Nazis at the Flossenburg concentration camp for conspiring to assassinate Adolf Hitler the previous year. Bonhoeffer's last words, appropriate to a Christian facing death, were hopeful. "This is the end...For me the beginning of life."
In Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas sets out to narrate Bonhoeffer's life for a new generation of Christians, who are unacquainted with the 1967 biography written by Eberhard Bethge, Bonhoeffer's closest friend. Metaxas is the author of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery (2007), which was subsequently turned into a movie. His biography of Bonhoeffer is well written, well paced, and very insightful, especially regarding the theological, spiritual, and ethical evolution Bonhoeffer experienced in his conflict with the Nazis, which consumed the latter third of his short life.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of eight children born to Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer, and the youngest of five boys. He was the scion of illustrious families on both his paternal and maternal sides. His father Karl's ancestors included prominent politicians and scientists. Karl himself was chair of the department of psychology at the University of Berlin--in effect, the leading psychologist of Germany. His mother Paula's family included military leaders and theologians, including her grandfather, the prominent liberal church historian Karl August von Hase, and her father Karl Alfred, the erstwhile chaplain to Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Bonhoeffer followed in the footsteps of his von Hase ancestors, studying at Tubingen before achieving a double doctorate in theology at Berlin. Following his studies in Berlin, Bonhoeffer did a year of postgraduate work at Union Theological Seminary of New York, where he attended and taught Sunday school at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, then under the able leadership of Dr. Adam Clayton Powell Sr. Bonhoeffer was unimpressed by Union's scholarship, but his involvement with Abyssinian gave him a deep love for "Negro spirituals" and important insights into how segregation damages both minorities and the majorities who oppress them.
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933, when Bonhoeffer was just 27 years old. From the get-go, the Nazis attempted to subvert and control every traditional institution in Germany, including the German Evangelical (or Lutheran) Church. This attempted subversion drew Bonhoeffer into the opposition to Hitler that would eventually cost him his life. The struggle would also radicalize him in numerous ways. He increasingly realized that being a good German and being a good Christian were not coterminous. He increasingly began to practice a free-church ecclesiology in the midst of a state-church nation. And he increasingly realized that passivity in the face of evil was complicity with evil.
Most of Bonhoeffer's work in the 1930s and 40s was professorial and pastoral. He helped found the Confessing Church, which was formed to oppose the Nazification of the state church. He helped found and lead the Confessing Church's underground seminary at Finkenwalde. And throughout this time, he wrote what have become classics in theology and spiritual formation: Life Together, The Cost of Discipleship, and Ethics (which he completed toward the end of his life).
But all along, he was drawn increasingly into the conspiracy against Hitler. Bonhoeffer's social class and family were deeply involved in this struggle. His older brother and two brothers-in-law were also executed for their involvement in the conspiracy against Hitler. Interestingly, they undertook this conspiracy from within the government and military, not outside of it. At one point, when Bonhoeffer was about to be drafted into the Army, his family friends arranged for him to work for the Abwehr, or Military Intelligence. To many of his Confessing Church comrades, it appeared that Bonhoeffer had sold out. In reality, this position saved Bonhoeffer from military service and allowed him to continue pastoral work under the guise of doing assignments for the Abwehr.
On July 20, 1944, General Claus von Stauffenberg placed an explosive device under a table at a meeting with Hitler. The explosion killed several people, although Hitler lived, scathed but otherwise unharmed. Bonhoeffer was already in prison, although his role in this conspiracy wouldn't become known for some time. Indeed, at one point, his uncle, General Paul von Hase, was able to get him special accommodations in the military prison just outside of Berlin. With the failure of Stauffenberg's bomb, however, the plot unraveled. Several thousand people were arrested, often because they were family members of conspirators, and several hundred were executed. The conspirators were aristocrats, military leaders, and civil servants--the traditional leaders of pre-war Germany. Why had they tolerated Hitler for so long? They had been working against him from the beginning, Metaxas makes clear, but Hitler's foreign policy and military successes made him very popular, and thus very difficult to work against.
Bonhoeffer had seen this difficulty nearly from the beginning. In a sense, he was a prophet who foresaw where Hitler's regime would lead Germany, and counseled more radical action than conservative German's traditional leaders--religious, military, or civil--could tolerate, until of course it was still late. He, and they, paid for their dereliction with their lives.
If I have made much of Bonhoeffer's involvement with the plot against Hitler, it is only because this is the most well-known thing about him. But Metaxas reveals the layers of theology, spirituality, politics, and commitment that characterized Bonhoeffer's life. His biography is well written and highly recommended.
235 internautes sur 260 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my favorite theologians and one of the most influential theologians on my life and calling to the ministry. So when I saw this book being offered by Thomas Nelson, I had to jump on it, and I'm glad I did.
Like many seminarians, I was introduced to Bonhoeffer through The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together. But I really didn't know a lot about the person. There was a little bit of background information in my copy of The Cost of Discipleship, but that was it. This book changes all of that.
From his early childhood to his arrest and subsequent martyrdom for his involvement in the conspiracy against Hitler, Metaxas draws from the letters of Bonhoeffer as well as his family to write this biography. Metaxas weaves the brilliant story that is the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the man who stood and preached for what he believed. When the church in Germany failed to stand up to Hitler, Bonhoeffer did. This is his life. Through Bonhoeffer's life and death, we really do see the cost of discipleship.
This book is a must have for all students of Bonhoeffer.
I give this book 5 our of 5 stars.
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
281 internautes sur 322 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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I finally got around to reading Eric Metaxas' highly publicized biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I wasn't going to read it for two reasons: 1) because I don't usually read biographies of theologians whose works I've read extensively, and 2) because I was completely annoyed with Glenn Beck and Eric Metaxas' discussion of Bonhoeffer where they treated him like an American, patriotic, conservative evangelical. I didn't want to read a book that "Americanized" Bonhoeffer so I put E. Bethge's biography of Bonhoeffer on my "to read" list instead of Metaxas'. Somebody recently gave me Metaxas' book to read, so I decided to read it after all.
What do I think of it?
Positively, it was well written. Metaxas is a good writer and uses the English language well. I also enjoyed the historical side of the book, since I've read scores of books that have to do with WWII. This might sound trivial, but I also liked the size of the chapters - they were just perfect to read in one sitting. Though the book did drag along at points (it could have been much shorter!) it was arranged in a readable manner.
Negatively, I do believe Metaxas wrongly casts Bonhoeffer as a patriotic evangelical (as I rightly gathered from the above mentioned interview). After reading this book, one would think Bonhoeffer was a German-speaking blend of John Piper, George Washington, Mike Huckabee, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln. Metaxas describes Bonhoeffer's youth as an evangelical version of the Von Trap family (in "Sound of Music") despite the fact that Bonhoeffer's father was not a Christian and his family rarely went to church. Bonhoeffer is also portrayed as a wild-at-heart-prayer-warrior who enjoyed quiet times, spiritual disciplines, and exhorted his students to "love Jesus."
Metaxas also explained Bonhoeffer's decision to help in a plot to assassinate Hitler as following God's plan for his life and hearing God's voice in the matter (phrases used in America today but not in Germany 70 years ago). In other words, Metaxas uses today's American evangelical words to describe Bonhoeffer's life and actions. This is definitely unhelpful; we can't call Bonhoeffer a conservative against the liberals as Metaxas does. This gives us a distorted and simplistic picture of Bonhoeffer - it's Bonhoeffer cast in an American mold.
I've read enough of Bonhoeffer to know that though he was an exceptional and gifted man, he wasn't at all a patriotic evangelical in the way Americans think of those terms. For two short examples, he was somewhat Barthian (where his christology, anthropology, and ecclesiology intersect - see parts of his Ethics for example) and he had quibbles with certain aspects of the OT (which show up cryptically in his prison letters). To get a more balanced and accurate view of Bonhoeffer, one has to read some other sources that discuss Bonhoeffer's theology. I realize it is trendy to quote Bonhoeffer in American evangelicalism, but in quoting him we have to be careful not to pretend he's evangelical in today's sense of the term. We should read Bonhoeffer, but in doing so we should be mindful of his theological background and context. (The same might be said of C. S. Lewis.)
Another thing worth mentioning is the historical scholarship of the book. Some historical points Metaxas made sounded inaccurate to me based on my earlier studies of the Euoropean theater of WWII. Before treating this book as "gospel truth" in the area of history, I'd want to hear what serious WWII historians and scholars have to say about it. One should also notice his bibliography was limited to English sources - and not too many at that. On this same note, in his brief section discussing Martin Luther, Metaxas really painted a terribly inaccurate historical/theological picture of the 16th century reformer.
In summary, after reading Metaxas' biography I felt like I had just watched a movie based on a book - you know, where the producers take some liberties in attempt to make the story more exciting, compelling, or to get an idea out there that wasn't really in the book. I usually like those movies, but end up disappointed because they didn't accurately portray the real story. That's my basic thought about the book; that's why I only gave it two stars.
So if you haven't yet read it and this topic interests you (and if you are up to reading over 500 pages!), I do recommend it with the following caveats: 1) don't believe everything you read, and 2) read a fair amount of Bonhoeffer himself to get a better picture of the man, and 3) read a biography about Bonhoeffer from a different (i.e. non-American evangelical) point of view.