Heidi Cox, Beaverton Oregon
Author of Just Moms: Conveying justice in an unjust world
“Favorite Book” Writing Contest Winner. $50.00 History/Biography Category Prize.
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Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
By Eric Metaxes
Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived each day of his short life with indefatigable passion and purpose. Living before and during the years of World War II in Germany, he was one of the lone prophetic voices warning the German Church of the perils that lay ahead. Few listened. Even fewer believed.
With those who stood with him, Bonhoeffer formed a coalition of like-minded Christians, re-naming them The Confessing Church. Through one of the darkest times in history, Dietrich was dedicated to preserving the church, and living out his faith, as Christ had mandated it. Yet out of this purpose emerged an equally important goal: Working with a small web of brave men and women who sacrificed everything to bring an end to Adolf Hitler.
Metaxes brilliantly melds these dual-tracts of Bonhoeffer’s pursuits in a riveting account of Bonhoeffer the pastor, and Bonhoeffer the spy. Knowing that he also becomes a martyr tinges each page with a melancholy reality that this young hero only reached age 38.
His journey of unflinching faith in the face of horrors only few can imagine is the powerful backbone to this story. Dietrich knew that discipleship meant sacrifice. And he didn’t just teach this. He lived it out in the very sinews of his flesh through years of captivity by the Nazi Germans, and ultimately through his execution at Flossenburg Concentration camp, just weeks before the Allied troops descended there.
But more than loss, this book is about hope. And hope is why Bonhoeffer struck me in a deep and lingering way. I find myself ruminating over his words, his joys, his horrors, and his faith. God was with him in the most evil place on earth. He co-existed in both hell and in God’s grasp. The letters he wrote from those years in prison, and the witnesses of those who lived through the concentration camps with him, reveal a man who found God to be more than sufficient as he stared death in the face.
Hope and redemption. I hang onto these two words because they don’t exist without darkness. The brightest hope can only be experienced when pain is choking you alive. The only place to find redemption is in the death of something precious. And so life is beautiful and tragic. And yet I am called to live it with hope and trust in God. Which is the only way to live. Just like Dietrich Bonhoeffer.