As I start my review, I confess, I knew very little of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I knew he was considered a hero of the faith, for which he died under the cruelty of Hitler. That was the extent of my knowledge. This book is short. It doesn’t contain too much information. I didn’t feel inundated by history. I didn’t have to labor to understand Bonhoeffer. Metaxas did an excellent job of helping me get to know Bonhoeffer in a way that made me want to learn more. Metaxas introduces the reader to Dietrich in his childhood with his family. The background establishes his foundation in the faith, that would later lead him to being martyred by the Hitler and his henchmen.
Dietrich was a highly educated man and very German. His family was well to do, and situated in the elite class of citizens. Dietrich had many opportunities afforded him due to his families position in German society. One of those opportunities was travel abroad. Bonhoeffer was well traveled. He made a couple of trips to America. He was not impressed with our Churches, and thought they had gone the way of the Churches in Europe, until he visited a gospel centered, African American Church. Of course this would have been a very different time in history. Please don’t equate what Bonhoeffer saw to the silliness that goes on now. One of my favorite quotes from Bonhoeffer came early on in the book inspired by that Church.
Another one of my favorite quotes came later in the book once he was a prisoner of the Nazis.
Because of this primer of Bonhoeffer, I find myself desiring to read his works. I definitely want to read, “Ethics.”
The parallels between the conditions in Germany and modern America were blatant. It is obvious that we are ripe for the same scenario to play out here, today. For those who think it can’t happen, read this book. See us in it.
Overall, the book was true to its title. It is an abridged biography. The important milestones are all there. All throughout his life, I got the sense of hope. He was perpetually hopeful. When he fell in love later in life, shortly before his imprisonment, I felt hopeful for him. I knew that he was going to die soon, but because of his correspondence with his loved ones, and the way that he encouraged them, even in his state, made me feel hopeful. I know the reason for his hope. I was very encouraged to see how he lived and died. He understood the reason for the hope within.