Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by Johnathan Lee Allen, Feb 8, 2019.

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  1. Johnathan Lee Allen

    Johnathan Lee Allen Puritan Board Freshman

    My mother bought this book for me nearly 10 years ago and sent it to me while I was living in Portland, Oregon. It was a new release back then. I was 22 worked at PDX airport, was a relatively new Christian, and had been married to my first wife for only a few years. I only read through half of the book before life got so busy that I couldn't devote the time to finishing it (I began working for a linen service and was putting in 60+ hours a week). However, before I shelved the book, something strange started happening. I began to think about theology and what it meant to be a Christian. I started writing about prayer during graveyard shifts and listening to sermons every chance I had. Then the thought hit me: I think I want to be a pastor. I was excited and told my young wife who promptly told me, "There ain't no way in... that I will be a pastor's wife..." I shelved that idea and tried to forget it.

    Fast forward some years to today. My first wife renounced the name of Jesus and walked out on the marriage (this is a much longer story that I'd be happy to share with people if would help them grow closer to Christ). I'm remarried and living in Chicagoland attending Moody Bible Institute so that I may fulfill what I believe to be a call; one that I haven't been able to shake no matter how hard I've tried. Through this, I've finished the book my mother gave me now years ago.

    I am curious to hear people's thoughts and opinions of the book, its subject, and the author. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but couldn't stop thinking about theological makeup of the many people mentioned in the biography. I don't wish to assume where I don't have explicit knowledge or facts. The book has served in such a strange melange of required reading, finishing something I started so long ago with so many memories and emotions attached, and theological and ethical analysis, etc. I have to write a report in the coming days and would again like to source the opinions of PB.
  2. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

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  3. Johnathan Lee Allen

    Johnathan Lee Allen Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you. I appreciate the tone Tim Challies took. He respected both sides and even praised the quality of writing. I’m inclined to agree with Challies’ undecided view but know that Bonhoeffer held positions problematic at best. I also wonder how far removed Christians, especially in Europe, could realistically get with regards to the stain of liberalism. Not to excuse the destructive views, but simply trying to understand their prevalence in all spheres at that time.
  4. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    As I said I am no expert but did find that 5 part article series on the Reformed Forum helpful.

    One day I hope to read more about the extent Bonhoeffer was influenced by Dialectical theology.
  5. Johnathan Lee Allen

    Johnathan Lee Allen Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, I will be reading the remaining parts from Reformed Forum. He does seem to strangely straddle both the old methods of German liberalism and Barthian neo-orthodoxy.
  6. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    There is much to admire about Bonhoeffer, but his theology isn’t really one of them. That being said, I have always believed that we must judge people within the context in which they lived, and in the context of early twentieth century German Christianity, Bonhoeffer was practically a fundamentalist.
  7. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    What's fascinating is the way God placed Herr Bonnhoeffer in a position to confront the Third Reich in a way no other theological tradition could have. His placement in the hugely influential German school gave his family an "in" that would have been unavailable to someone reformed.

    He should be admired for his bravery in returning to Germany, his willingness to speak out against the official Reich "church," and his ministering to fellow, suffering prisoners.

    I am concerned, though, with the current trend of reformed men posting quotes while ignoring their overall context. As an example, almost all Christians would benefit from reading the first half of the Cost of Discipleship. If you go much past that, you're neck deep in crisis theology which is oppressive and subverts the simple, yet elegant offer of the gospel as given in the scriptures. Compare, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved," to page after page stating what a Christian must do followed by pages of why he can't do it.
  8. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Bonhoeffer was your typical European Protestant. He was in the strain of liberalism but probably tried to break free of it at times. We commend his bravery and that's about it. Even removing the questionable aspects of his theology, I never found him all that impressive.
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  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    A more heroic and sound alternative would be Klaas Schilder.
  10. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    His tiny book on the Psalms is quite stimulating.
  11. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    I'm disturbed by the efforts over the last few years to rehabilitate Bonhoeffer. His stand against the Nazis was heroic, to be sure. But his theology was neo-orthodox, at best. I wouldn't want people confusing his war heroism with his theology.
  12. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Some of Bonhoeffer's views were unambiguously unorthodox.
  13. Johnathan Lee Allen

    Johnathan Lee Allen Puritan Board Freshman

    I’ll have to look this guy up. Have you read anything by him? What do you like about him and his views?
  14. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

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