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Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by…

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (2010)

by Eric Metaxas (Author), Martin Hillgartner (Narrator)

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2,426793,750 (4.31)55
Title:Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Authors:Eric Metaxas (Author)
Other authors:Martin Hillgartner (Narrator)
Info:Blackstone Audiobooks
Collections:Digital library, Read
Tags:biography, christian, history, non-fiction

Work details

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas (2010)

  1. 20
    The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (GRB)
  2. 00
    Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (AmishTechie)
    AmishTechie: Get the real inside story of being a Pastor, Theologian and sometime resistance fighter, facing death. What does he do? He ministers to others! A soul stirring companion volume to Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

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Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
It’s funny how far things have gotten from the Bible, where you can fit the aphorisms inside a pen-cap. Here, the ocean isn’t enough to contain the meaningless details.

It’s also all story—narrative. [And it’s not a storyteller’s story.] Never, not even after his death, does the biographer see fit to put forth the *philosophy* of his subject, only his *history*, his story. ‘Then he died—the end.’

To come to the point, trying to kill Hitler is an improvement on serving Hitler, but it’s not the gospel. “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

“Hitler’s bad and we’re good.... Let’s blow up Hitler!” That’s pride and wrath, not the gospel.

.... The biographer is also attempting to win the wars of religion for the Conservative Christians. “Nazis are heretics; blow up the heretics.” “But weren't the Jews heretics?” “No, you don’t understand; God loves their tribe.... But smashing the heretics is always right....”

Which is about as true to the gospel as the “burst of Nordic light” myth.


Although I do agree that the Nazis were the product of the 20th century, or the 19th and the 20th, although they did feed on older hatreds too.... But more the New Imperialism, than the Middle Ages.

But this idea that you’ll just blow up Hitler and then everything will be fine, is just child’s fantasy. You don’t fight ideas with bullets.

I have a PR problem; I have national and cultural shame— what do I do? I’ll, Blow Up Adolf Hitler!

Right after I calmly yet abusively tell the liberals that Hitler is *all their fault*, that I had nothing to do with it, that everything they do is bad, and that before the 19th/20th century All Was Right With The World, That Now Is Wrong.

.... The world is full of sin with Hitler, and the world is full of sin without Hitler. Try to get over it.

.... Because how you solve this one little problem, is actually how you solve every single possible problem. You do see that, don’t you? “I’ll stop cheating on my English homework once I get into Harvard.” No. How you solve this problem, is how you solve every problem. You see that, right?

“I find the person whose ideas deviate from the Truth, and I eliminate them.... I find the person who screwed up. And. I. Kill. Them.”

No. That’s not the gospel.


It’s amazing how the biographer can take a group defined by nationalism and religion— Hitler's “German Christians”— and make the whole thing sound like a left-wing conspiracy.

He rolls subtle, but I don’t like it.
  smallself | Jun 27, 2018 |
Excellent biography!
  jmike47 | Apr 9, 2018 |
A solid read, but I wouldn't use it as my only source on Bonhoeffer. A good introduction nonetheless.

Overall Bonhoeffer is a good biography tarnished by Metaxas' desire to present Bonhoeffer as a bona fide evangelical. D. Bonhoeffer isn't a person easily put into a box, and that's exactly what makes him compelling. He is theologically liberal, yet at times stubbornly conservative, living truly as one who considers God and His will in all his daily dealings. Metaxas illustrates this second part well. He really makes Bonhoeffer come alive as a person, although I'm tempted to believe that he glosses over some more controversial aspects of B's life. His apologetic of the "religonless Christianity", for example, was weak - an anachronistic reiteration of the well-meaning but entirely fallacious evangelical cliché that "Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship". Truth is, we don't know exactly what Bonhoeffer meant by that; the quote in context kind of points to a death of God theology, although that seems to belie Bonhoeffer's own life and actions. He died too early to develop many of his theological intuitions, and we shouldn't use that as pretext to project our own beliefs onto him. He was what he was; let's appreciate him for that and for all the ways in which God used him.

The works appears to be well-sourced and has a good quotation-to-narrative ratio. It draws extensively on Bethge, which I have no issue with, although there are people who question Bethge's take on Bonhoeffer's involvement with the plot to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer is well-constructed and well-told, but Metaxas tries a bit too hard to seem clever, dropping weirdly obscure words into otherwise average sentences.

I was missing a bit more information on Bonhoeffer's theological writings and thought. I felt like that would have illuminated B's actions more clearly, since I often wasn't sure where Metaxas was drawing on sources to explain B's motivations, and where he was simply conjecturing. I don't know if the book had extensive notes which documented this, since I only listened to the audiobook. ( )
  bulgarianrose | Mar 13, 2018 |
The writing quality is only fair--as my friend Annette said, the author seems to have been unwilling to leave or edit a single piece of research out of the book. However: theology and fighting Nazis. Pretty fantastic combination. I enjoyed it and am glad to know more about Bonhoeffer. ( )
  LauraBee00 | Mar 7, 2018 |
Dietrich Bonhoeffer had integrity. Metaxas has written his biography to reflect that integrity. As most critics have said, this is a definitive biography. Here comes my personal prejudice. I just don’t like biographies that detail the historical context and then afterward talk about the person. I don’t want a 50-year history of Germany. I just want to know about the major events in a person’s life. Therefore, I skimmed through the first half of the book because I was interested in Bonhoeffer’s war activity. However, as I skimmed through the pages, I began to see a connection between Bonhoeffer as a theologian and his personal choices. It was interesting to learn just how well-educated, well-connected and well-respected he was as an intellectual. I was not aware of the extent of his personal struggles to encounter grace, to conquer depression, to live boldly and act boldly in an evil world. I didn’t realize how much his spirituality had meant to him. His decisions to first, support the Jewish people, and later to become involved in the German counter-intelligence movement ran deeply, and he acted with great conviction that what he was doing would further the kingdom of God here on this planet we’ve been given. When I had this epiphany, the book and the events to which Metaxas lent narrative came together. My first thought was that this book is a must-read for anyone interested in theology and/or authentic Christian living. My second recommendation would be for historians who study Germany between the wars. The lives of the upper-middle class and German aristocracy led by families such as the Bonhoeffers are not told often enough. The feelings of the German people as a whole are often overshadowed by Hitler’s evil deeds. It is somehow comforting to know that many thousands of Germans were not satisfied and did not welcome him as the leader of their country. It’s comforting that many of them were pro-active from the inside in trying to stop him. The extent of Bonhoeffer’s personal involvement in Valkyrie will never be known, but since he was implicated and killed for it, I’m sure there are many brave deeds and sacrifices the reader will never know. Knowing Bonhoeffer was ready to die for his convictions still doesn’t make up for the earthly contributions he could have made to Christianity had he lived. I don’t think he would like to be idolized or made a martyr by those he left behind. I think his legacy would be for each of us to work out the gift of salvation on earth with genuine acts of devotion and compassion. His story makes me want to be a better person. ( )
  MsKathleen | Jan 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
In this fine biography, Metaxas stays close to the story and refrains from any efforts at theory. All the more reason to read it: when it comes to the strengths and the limits of post-Kantian liberalism, we already have theory aplenty. But be careful what you read it for....
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Peace had at last returned to Europe.
His soul really shone in the dark desperation of our prison . . . [Bonhoeffer] had always been afraid that he would not be strong enough to stand such a test but now he knew there was nothing in life of which one need ever be afraid.

(Above is Payne Best's quotation, and below are Bonhoeffer's.) 

No one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God, no one has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected, and not been homesick from that hour, waiting and looking forward to being released from bodily existence.  

Whether we are young or old makes no difference.  What are twenty or thirty or fifty years in the sight of God?  And which of us knows how near he or she may already be to the goal?  . . . Why are we so afraid when we think about death? . . . Death is only dreadful for those who live in dread and fear of it.  Death is not wild and terrible, if only we can be still and hold fast to God's Word.  . . . .

Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith.  But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.
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"Bonhoeffer" presents a profoundly orthodox Christian theologian whose faith led him to boldly confront the greatest evil of the 20th century, and uncovers never-before-revealed facts, including the story of his passionate romance.

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