Friday, May 27, 2016

Bonhoeffer, His Life, and His Example

 "We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God." —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

While reviewing my posts on the various Eric Metaxas books I've read  I was surprised to discover that I hadn't yet done a post on Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I had many references to it but I couldn't believe I hadn't blogged on it. I had put quotes on my facebook account while I read this book because I was so powerfully affected by this man. One of my facebook friends happened to be reading the book too so we did a lot of chatting about the book. It was wonderful!  I highly recommend this book. It will change your life!


Before opening the pages to review my annotations of 2014, I have this deep sense still residing in my soul. Bonhoeffer had a message for his people in the 1930's and 1940's. Bonhoeffer still has a message for us today in the new millennium. Some of the concepts he battled against back then are resurfacing today. This is a timely book, for such a moment as this.

I also have to say, before perusing my annotations, that when I read this book is when I connected with Eric Metaxas at his web site and his facebook page. Interestingly at the time he was posting about travels in Germany and he was showing us photos of the Bonhoeffer sites he was visiting. How cool is that? In fact, here's a link to Metaxas' photo album of the Bonhoeffer Tour.

Oh. Did I mention this book is a New York Times Bestseller? Again, I highly recommend this book! As I open the book I see the page that lists 12 other awards for this book. It is really that incredible!

Anything I say about this book goes hand in hand with what Bonhoeffer, himself wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, which I blogged about here. Metaxas does a stunning job of remaining true to who Bonhoeffer was, while filling in all the details of his life from birth to taking a stand for what was right.

While perusing my annotations I decided to first share my facebook posts on Bonhoeffer:

Facebook (FB) Feb 3, 2014: "Bonhoeffer was firmly and rightly convinced that it is not only a Christian right but a Christian duty towards God to oppose tyranny, that is, a government which is no longer based on natural law and the law of God." The Cost of Discipleship, p30

Wow! Bonhoeffer understood what America's Founding Fathers understood with natural law.  I'm working on a series on our Founding Fathers and how 18th century thought was much different from 21st century thought.    

FB, Feb 17, 2014-"Now reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. Not only reading about a man of God who was born 'for a a time such as this,' but also pulling together German history and the arts through music as well as Roman classical history and literature. A nice way to round out our previous in-depth study of the Ancients"

In hindsight, that is an interesting statement to make. Of course I was sharing my homeschool lesson plans on fb, and I always work in all the humanities into our history presentations including history, literature, speeches, music, food, art of the era. The neat thing, as I dug deeper in this book is that I learned how much Bonhoeffer enjoyed the arts. I remember sensing that the arts was a deeply German thing to do. That's pretty neat, because my maiden name is German and my mom's mother is from German heritage as well (though her father was of French heritage). Of course this makes sense when we look at the rich musical history of Germany, even when looking at Frederick the Great! Bonhoeffer, by nature, was not a rebellious sort. He enjoyed peaceful ways. However, there comes a time, that in order to maintain peace, one must take a stand. He is the epitome of that.

Later that day, FB, "My son is starting Bonhoeffer. I am now reading Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm. The era I was not looking forward to studying has become hopeful, because of finding their books. Men who led the way..."

"Men who led the way..." Now that I have read all of Bonhoeffer completely, I can look back at that statement and cry a resounding, "Yes!" Few led the way. Many waited until it was quite late and hope hung at the edge of a precipice. That is where the "spy" part of the biography comes in. It is a thrilling account to read of how men came together, with Bonhoeffer, in a united effort to take down Hitler.

FB, Feb 29, 2014-"If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Oh, my....that is exactly how I felt reading this book. I know how WWII unfolded. The players at the time didn't. Bonhoeffer kept warning everyone but they wouldn't listen. It was definitely a thriller, but a grim one, because it was all too true and could happen again. Nothing boring about this book! And highly applicable to today!

FB, Feb 19, 2014- "My son is hooked on Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I am too. I am riveted...I am convicted."

FB, Feb 20, 2014-"Reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Initially I was reading this from a thoroughly Christian/Bible Study/Devotional Quiet Time viewpoint. Now that I've been reading Bonhoeffer's biography, I've learned how Nazism invaded the German Lutheran Church in the 1930's, rewriting the Bible, eventually replacing it with Mein Kemp, and replacing God with Hitler. Cost of Discleship, written in 1937, now takes on an entirely new meaning when Bonhoeffer says in his treatise on The Sermon on the Mount, "The disciples are not expected to show fear of men, nor malice, nor mistrust, still less a sour misanthropy, nor that gullible credulity which believes that there is good in every man..." p215

FB, Feb 21, 2014-'They wander on earth and live in heaven, and although they are weak, they protect the world; they taste of peace in the midst of turmoil; they are poor, and yet they have all they want. They stand in suffering and remain in joy, they appear dead to all outward sense and lead a life of faith within.
'When Christ, their life, shall be manifested, when once he appears in glory, they too will appear in glory with him as princes of the earth. They will reign and triumph with him, and adorn heaven as shining lights. There joy will be shared by all.' (C.F. Richter).
That is the Church of the elect, the Ecclesia, those who have been called out, the Body of Christ on earth, the followers and disciples of Jesus. -The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p270-271
On March 8, 2014, we had our history presentation of the Great Depression and my son portrayed Dietrich Bonhoeffer. On FB I wrote-For the first time ever during a history presentation, someone rang the doorbell! Uh oh! Who could it be? I guessed our next door neighbor and it was! We stayed in character as I welcomed him to Chartwell House in Kent, England, and introduced Churchill's daughter (me), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (my son), and the daughter of FDR (my daughter). He's a great guy and played along without missing a beat. He told Mr. Bonhoeffer he had read his book, it was great and hoped to have it autographed. LOL (Our neighbor is a pastor.)

FB, March 27, 2014-Stayed up late last night and finished reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. This book is powerful because of the man who trusted in his powerful God. My son will finish reading this book this week too for his history studies. I've been powerfully influenced by Bonhoeffer over the years, without remembering specifically, because the churches I attend always reference him. Yesterday I was going through a Chuck Swindoll book and found a slip of paper I had tucked in from my church in San Antonio, Wayside was a prayer sheet for our military members which began with a quote by Bonhoeffer. It was this quote that I used to teach my young children to trust God if/when their dad would go to war (because at the time he was "in the bucket" to go to the Middle East. It was right after 9/11.) Bonhoeffer's words and influence are powerful.

"We must commit our loved ones wholly and unreservedly to God and leave them in His hands, transforming our anxiety for them into prayers on their behalf." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Tegel Prison, Berlin, Christmas Eve, 1941. 


From the Michael W. Smith fb post on Dec 6, 2014-
"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent." —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Now there is a student edition available, also by Eric Metaxas.  

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