Picture of author.

Bo Giertz (1905–1998)

Author of The Hammer of God

78 Works 1,148 Members 9 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Bo Giertz (1905-1998), Bishop of Gothenburg in the Lutheran Church of Sweden, was voted the most influential Swedish church leader during the 1900s. He penned no less than thirty books. Christ's Church was his first, written at the age of thirty-three.

Includes the name: Bo Giertz

Image credit: Swedish wikipedia, out of copyright

Works by Bo Giertz

The Hammer of God (1973) 569 copies
Then Fell the Lord's Fire (1996) 31 copies
With My Own Eyes (1984) 30 copies
The Knights of Rhodes (1972) 22 copies
Tron allena (1977) 18 copies
Nya testamentet (1981) 8 copies
Bibeln (1985) 5 copies
Kyrkofromhet (2001) 4 copies
At leve med Kristus (2004) 3 copies
Å leve i kirken (1988) 2 copies
Herdabrev 2 copies
Viisi Paavalin kirjettä (1984) 2 copies
Den treenige Gud (1996) 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Giertz, Bo
Legal name
Giertz, Bo Harald
Date of death
Sweden (birth)
Places of residence
Uppsala, Schweden
Linköping, Schweden
Torpa, Schwedden
Göteborg, Schweden
Church of Sweden



I'd been wanting to get my hands on this book for a couple of years and finally borrowed it from the local Lutheran seminary. It's a collection of three novellas, set respectively in the early 1800s, late 1800s, and early WWII, about young pastors coming to grips with the power of the gospel, often out of various kinds of revivalist and rationalist formation in seminary. It wasn't so much the stories or characterization that I found compelling, though the settings in various periods of Scandinavian Lutheran church history were interesting. It was the unadulterated presentation of the gospel, from a robustly Lutheran perspective, that I found refreshing. It had strong similarities to my own Reformed molding in the gospel, to a degree that even surprised me, though I'm sure I could parse out points of difference if I'd been looking to read it that way. The translation from Swedish was a little bumpy at times.

I would recommend this to seminarians, young pastors in need of encouragement, and anyone who wants to know (or be reminded) why the classical Protestant articulation of the gospel remains earth-shattering to many today. There's a fullness and churchliness to it that abbreviated evangelical treatments of the gospel don't always capture, though I've read exceptions.

Learned of it here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2011/06/30/the-whole-debt-is-paid/
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LudieGrace | 6 other reviews | Aug 10, 2020 |
Excellent treatment of the Law and Grace in the form of a novel from a Lutheran perspective. Very well done. Contributes significantly to the current Evangelical (and Reformed) debate over sanctification.
KenMcLain | 6 other reviews | Jul 18, 2017 |
This book will help you understand how to read the Bible properly, distinguishing between law and Gospel, and illustrating the expected outcome of modern evangelical preaching.
mdubois | 6 other reviews | Feb 18, 2014 |
What does it mean to really follow Jesus? In some circles today that is a frequently heard question, one that implies that what may be considered the traditional forms of church and Christian belief are no longer valid and relevant. The tacit belief is that Christianity must evolve in order to have any relevance for our day. That question lies beneath the surface of each of the three novellas of Bo Giertz, published as a collection under the title The Hammer of God.

Giertz was a pastor and bishop in Sweden during the latter half of the 20th century. He has set the three novellas within the same church, during three separate time periods: 1808-10, 1878-80 and 1938-40. The stories also have in common that the protagonist in each novella is a young pastor on his first assignment since finishing seminary. In the first two stories the young pastor works as an associate, whom he has disdain for, albeit for very different reasons. In the last story the young pastor is feeling is way alone in a church and culture that bears a striking similarity to our own in its increasing disregard for anything that claims to assert truth as an objective claim with authority over the subjectivity of feelings .

As each story progresses the central character learns what it means to truly believe in Jesus and the word of God as written in the Bible. They learn that Christ, and Christ alone, is the only solid ground from which they can live their live. They learn the enduring value of relying on answers, expressed in the ecumenical creeds, that the church has developed to set boundaries to acceptable belief. They learn, in real and practical terms, that to follow Christ means not following along in the ways of the culture around them. And they learn these lessons through compelling storytelling, with a wide range of secondary characters and circumstances.

This is a work of fiction but from my own perspective as a pastor of a small Protestant church these novellas are permeated with the bread-and-butter concerns of ministry in the 21st century. Giertz may have written these stories in the mid-20th century however core issues the pastors face and the philosophies guiding their times remain relevant today. I found a lot in this work that echoed C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man, with people seeing no hazard in leaving the established moral truth that had long guided their culture for something they felt was a higher and more noble cause, to disastrous results.

In the end, from both points-of-view I held as I read, pastor and general reader, I found The Hammer of God to be a delightful book.
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BradKautz | 6 other reviews | Nov 13, 2013 |


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