Over the weekend I finally finished reading Bonhoeffer. It took me a while to get through (I started mid-February), but I read every last word- all 542 pages of it. Some days I read chapters at a time while other days I could only get through a paragraph. But oh, how I loved every bit of it so much. It’s had such a profound effect on me.
Here’s my attempt at explaining how.
If you’re unfamiliar with who Bonhoeffer is, he was a pastor during the rise of Hitler and the opening of World War II. He was executed in a concentration camp in 1945 for a part he played in the plot to assassinate Hitler. This book walks through Bonhoeffer’s life, and gives an up close look at Germany and the war.
- New words. Many times (especially at the beginning) I had the dictionary app opened on my phone. I remember one day I looked up five words in one paragraph. Words like ecumenical.
- Academia. I love academia. I love learning new things, studying new concepts, and relating the new with the old. Bonhoeffer’s love of academia is what drove him to be who he was. Watching his pursuit in it made me a little jealous.
- Theology. I loved Bonhoeffer’s take on many theological ideas. From his perspective of the church in America during the civil rights movement to his methods of spiritual disciplines. All of it was fascinating to me.
- Application. Bonhoeffer cared more about living out his theology than just believing the “right” things. I love when he said, “it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith”.
- Servant. Above all, when I think of Bonhoeffer, the one word that comes to mind is servant. His heart was focused on people. He had compassion for those who were in need. He committed his life to pastoring people. In his last days, in a prison cell among prison guards, He preached the gospel and served the prisoners there with him.
- Surrender. Bonhoeffer surrendered his whole life to Jesus and living out his calling on earth. Ultimately it cost him his life. His final recorded statement as he was taken to the concentration camp (to die) was, “This is the end…For me the beginning of life.”
Those are just six, though if you talk to me about it, I could go on and on. I felt a little sad after I finished the book. I felt like I lost a teacher or a friend. I told my husband that this is a book I want to read over and over again. That’s how much it’s impacted me.
“Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God –the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“In the almost fifty years I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
– Doctor who executed Bonhoeffer
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