Seventy years ago, on April 9, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis for his role in the German resistance movement against the Hitler regime. At age 39, he left behind a fiancée, his parents, and several siblings, but even more significant are his legacy of courage and his sound theological reasoning which live on. These have been preserved for us by Eric Metaxas in a weighty biography that was released in 2011. I was among those who couldn’t wait to read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, and it did not disappoint. This well-researched and compelling chronicle of Bonhoeffer’s life is now available in a student edition, visually enhanced by side bars and charts that underscore critical life lessons and give solid historical underpinnings to the narrative. The timelines at the beginning of each chapter anchor Bonhoeffer’s milestones alongside events that resulted from Hitler’s political shenanigans, leading up to World War II, and then the gradual downfall of the Third Reich.
Readers age nine and up will be inspired by God’s work in the preparation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for the role he fulfilled, and by Bonhoeffer’s courageous acts to strengthen the church in Germany, to resist Hitler’s schemes, and to build into the lives of the next generation of young pastors. Brilliantly, Metaxas emphasizes discipleship, challenging his young readers with lessons derived from the costly grace that carried Bonhoeffer and led him to write The Cost of Discipleship. The topics are both profound and practical:
1. What does it mean to be a disciple?
2. The true believer practices bold acts of kindness.
3. Practicing spiritual disciplines will grow your spiritual muscles.
4. Christians can be a light in dark times.
5. Words of comfort and hope will encourage others.
I can hardly wait to share this book with my youngest son, because it holds a terrific surprise! Just as the Bonhoeffer family encoded secret messages within books to communicate with Dietrich during his imprisonment, the Student Edition of Bonhoeffer has a secret code for readers to decipher! This is an example of the exemplary work that Metaxas has done in bringing the account of Bonhoeffer’s experiences to a younger audience. Dietrich’s life, although set in an era of widespread suffering and characterized by continual interference with his personal and professional goals, was unexpectedly joyful and productive. I would describe it as an “indescribable” reading experience, but Bonhoeffer would protest:
“If you take enough trouble to make a thing clear, I think there is very little that is really ‘indescribable.'”
Eric Metaxas has taken the trouble, and the result is a very clear picture of a life that stands today, seventy years after Bonhoeffer’s death, to confirm the truth that he believed and taught:
“We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the hope of living. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. We carry the death of Jesus in our own bodies so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies.” — II Corinthians 4:8-10 NCV
This book was provided by Thomas Nelson through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my review. 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.”
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