Saturday, July 26, 2014

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh

Book Description:  In the decades since his execution by the Nazis in 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor, theologian, and anti-Hitler conspirator, has become one of the most widely read and inspiring Christian thinkers of our time. Now, drawing on extensive new research, Strange Glory offers a definitive account, by turns majestic and intimate, of this modern icon.

The scion of a grand family that rarely went to church, Dietrich decided as a thirteen-year-old to become a theologian. By twenty-one, the rather snobbish and awkward young man had already written a dissertation hailed by Karl Barth as a “theological miracle.” But it was only the first step in a lifelong effort to recover an authentic and orthodox Christianity from the dilutions of liberal Protestantism and the modern idolatries of blood and nation—which forces had left the German church completely helpless against the onslaught of Nazism.

From the start, Bonhoeffer insisted that the essence of Christianity was not its abstract precepts but the concrete reality of the shared life in Christ. In 1930, his search for that true fellowship led Bonhoeffer to America for ten fateful months in the company of social reformers, Harlem churchmen, and public intellectuals. Energized by the lived faith he had seen, he would now begin to make what he later saw as his definitive “turn from the phraseological to the real.” He went home with renewed vocation and took up ministry among Berlin’s downtrodden while trying to find his place in the hoary academic establishment increasingly captive to nationalist fervor. 

With the rise of Hitler, however, Bonhoeffer’s journey took yet another turn. The German church was Nazified, along with every other state-sponsored institution. But it was the Nuremberg laws that set Bonhoeffer’s earthly life on an ineluctable path toward destruction. His denunciation of the race statutes as heresy and his insistence on the church’s moral obligation to defend all victims of state violence, regardless of race or religion, alienated him from what would become the Reich church and even some fellow resistors. Soon the twenty-seven-year-old pastor was one of the most conspicuous dissidents in Germany. He would carry on subverting the regime and bearing Christian witness, whether in the pastorate he assumed in London, the Pomeranian monastery he established to train dissenting ministers, or in the worldwide ecumenical movement. Increasingly, though, Bonhoeffer would find himself a voice crying in the wilderness, until, finally, he understood that true moral responsibility obliged him to commit treason, for which he would pay with his life.  

My Thoughts:  About three years ago my husband and I "discovered"  Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Bonhoeffer's life takes place during World War II.  
How Bonhoeffer influenced those around him, how he found Christ, and how he felt about Hitler are all pretty interesting facts.  Considering that he seemed to be a wealthy, spoiled, maybe lazy child and teen . . .  but then something "snapped" in his heart.  It seems that Bonhoeffer was one of those men who wanted/needed to change the world for God.  But Bonhoeffer was such a young man to take on so much responsibility.  
His life began to change after he came to America and visited the Harlem church.  He had already began to have doubts about his countrymen and the Third Reich but now he knew that God was not pleased with people who took the lives of other, innocent people.  
This book is "chock full" of Bonhoeffer's life and thoughts.  It is written in a most excellent way...smooth and easy to read.  A great read about a great man who just wanted to do the "right" thing and live for God.

*This book was provided for review by Blogging for Books*

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (April 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307269817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269812

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