Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy + LINKUP


Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, SpyWelcome once again to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I’ll feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. Some will be about relationships, emotional struggles, or other areas of practical living. Some are books that have helped me in my personal devotional life. This week’s selection, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is a biography.

I enjoy reading biographies and don’t have the time to read nearly as many as I would like, but I read this one a year or so ago. To say the book impacted me would be an understatement!

In case you’re not familiar with him, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor, theologian, and writer (The Cost of Discipleship) who came into his own during Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. While many pastors and religious leaders were wooed into believing Hitler only wanted the best for Germany, Bonhoeffer refused to close his eyes to what was happening. He was a founding member of the Confessing Church, those who went underground because they refused to fall in line as Hitler nationalized the German church. They understood and taught that God and His Word must be the final authority in life.

Friends who recognized his importance to the true church in Germany got him out of the country and safely to America. But a couple of weeks later, convinced he needed to stand with the believers in his homeland, he was on a boat back to Germany.

He eventually joined the German underground, working selflessly and in spite of great personal danger, to save and protect as many Jews as they could. Over and over he demonstrated great moral courage in the face of unspeakable evil. Eventually, he and others decided Hitler must be stopped.

He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler and was imprisoned for one and a half years. He was tried and hanged just before the war ended.

I can’t begin to summarize in a few paragraphs the various ways I was impacted by Bonhoeffer’s life, but among them, I gained a fresh realization for the cost many have suffered willingly for the cause of Christ and others.

Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer is full of history, personal accounts, excerpts from his writings and correspondence, glimpses of his family and personal life, and explanations of his theology and work for the kingdom of God.

Metaxas wrote this about his execution:

The camp doctor at Flossenbürg was H. Fischer-Hüllstrung. He had no idea whom he was watching at the time, but years later, he gave the following account of Bonhoeffer’s last minutes alive:

“On the morning of that day between five and six o’clock the prisoners, among them Admiral Canaris, General Oster, General Thomas and Reichgerichtsrat Sack were taken from their cells, and the verdicts of the court martial read out to them. Through the half-open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

Bonhoeffer thought it the plain duty of the Christian—and the privilege and honor—to suffer with those who suffered. He knew that it was a privilege to be allowed by God to partake of the sufferings of the Jews who had died in this place before him. According to Schlabrendorff, the crematorium at Flossenbürg was not working, so the bodies of the men hanged that morning were burned in piles, and in this, too, he had the honor to be joined to the millions of other victims of the Third Reich.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (Jn. 15.13).


Quotations taken from:
Metaxas, Eric (2010-04-20). Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Previously featured books:

Week #1 – Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer. You can read my post here.

Week #2 – I featured a little gem of a book entitled Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries. You can read my post here.

Week #3 – Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. Read about it here.




Christian bloggers linkupMondays @ Soul Survival is a Christian linkup, a place to share your insights about God and His Word. Feel free to link up multiple posts as long as they bring glory to God.

If you are new to the linkup let me know in the comments so I can say hello and follow you back.

Share your posts on character, family, parenting, marriage, homeschooling, devotions, and more – any God-honoring post.

I frequently (as time allows) pin your pinnable posts to my “Mondays @ Soul Survival” Pinterest board. I would love it if you followed me there.


If you are not already signed up, sign up for Daily Through the Bible Posts for 2016 here.

Sign up for reminders of this LINKUP and Christian Living posts here.

30 thoughts on “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy + LINKUP

  1. I loved this bio of Bonhoeffer. Did you know that Metaxas has also rwritten a version for student readers? It was also very well done, and much too good to be limited just to young readers. It’s great for people who aren’t up for the several hundred pages and the level of detail in Metaxas’s excellent original bio. Thanks for reminding me of the pleasant experience of reading about Bonhoeffer’s amazing life.

    • I didn’t know about the student edition. That is great to know. I have read several of Metaxas’ books and loved everyone of them! Have a great week, Michele!

  2. Wow! What an amazing impact this man had in the life of that doctor! I’ve heard of Bonhoeffer before but never really looked into it. What a great biography – makes me want to go out and buy it right now! Thanks for the book inspiration and for the link up too!

    • It is truly an amazing story. It was one of those books that, even though it’s long, you hate to end! It was convicting, inspiring, and I learned so much about that time in history. Biographies can bring history alive in such a real and interesting way. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment and thanks for linking up!

  3. I think I’m going to have to get this one! Thanks for the write up !And Michele’s tip about a shorter version might just be the one I need!

  4. Eric Metaxis has included so much history in this book. I came away with a deeper understanding of the events leading up to WWII and great respect for Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is a great read. I gave a copy to my nephew who is a college student.

  5. I’m rather embarrassed to say that I know little of Bonhoeffer’s life, Donna. I’m moved by the story you’ve shared about his life. I think I will have to get that book and read about his life and incredible faith. Thanks for sharing another inspiring post and for hosting our linkup, my friend!

    • Thank you, Beth, thanks for linking up each week. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the book when you get a chance to read it. Blessings!

  6. Gosh Donna, what a heart wrenching post for me..I’ve always wanted to read this book and will put it on my list for sure! My husband is half Jewish with a very Jewish name..and my teenage son is thinking of traveling to Europe for the summer..I’ve been reading about the flight of Jews from France because of anti-semitism, and worry about my son traveling. The Holocaust doesn’t leave us..and God’s hero– Bonhoeffer is a saint I hold dear in my heart. My husband has been working on distributing feature film about the Holocaust and met with many survivors recently..we can never forget, never stop telling these stories. I have tears as I write. Thank you for this book review.

    • Sadly, it’s so true that prejudice and persecution never really leave us and we must keep telling the stories that remind us of the importance to standing up to it. I read The Diary of Ann Frank when I was in junior high and was so touched by her story that it sent me on a journey to read numerous other books on the subject. Some were very hard to read, but it’s so important to understand. Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer book was such a powerful reminder. Metaxas tells his story in both an interesting and faith deepening way. Thanks, Kathy, for adding your personal thoughts to this. I love to know more about your husband’s film when it becomes available. May God watch over your son if and when he travels. Blessings!

  7. During my time at Lee University, we had the immense pleasure of hearing Mr. Metaxas speak and he was wonderful. Ever since then I have been wanting to read his biography of Bonhoeffer. I have not been able to get around to it, but I enjoyed your piece on it. Thank you for sharing the insight. I am definitely adding this to my “must read” list. #intentionaltuesday

    • I’m so glad my post was an encouragement to you to read the book. I’m like you when it comes to time to read, but once I started this one I just found time to keep going. Although it was long, it went all too quickly!

  8. I don’t typically read biographies, but picked up Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy after my brother recommended it. It was an amazing story about such a faithful man!

  9. Happy to be your #CoffeeForYourHeart neighbor today! I’m so glad to have stumbled onto your post today. It’s refreshing to be reminded of the resolution in those have literally given their lives to further Christ’s Kingdom. There is something so inpiring about a man that just cannot stand by and watch something he knows is wrong against humanity and more importantly against God.
    And what a telling witness written of the observation of his death. God uses us right to the end to affect other’s hearts.
    Beautiful review of this book.
    Happy Wednesday!!

    • Yes … right to the end! I wonder how many others were changed even as he walked in faith and peace up the stairs to the gallows! Blessings, Meg!

  10. I just added this book to my Amazon wish list. I love learning about people who stood up against the evil of Hitler and the Nazis. Another one of my hero’s from that time is Corrie Ten Boom. Reading of her faith and her service renews my strength and faith. Thanks so much for sharing this, can’t wait to read it!

    • I agree 100% about Corrie Ten Boom! I had read various excerpts from The Hiding Place through the years and other articles about her, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally read it. Amazing the risks her family and others were willing to take to save all they could!

  11. Thank you for reminding me about this book, Donna. Another friend had recommended it, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. Bonhoeffer is a favorite, we can learn so much from him. Have a blessed weekend!

  12. This book profoundly influenced my life. It’s a tome, and not something to fly through quickly. I wanted to keep so many quotes that I had to make a whole file folder on my computer just for Bonhoeffer! One of the best: “Christ must be brought into every square inch of the world and the culture, but one’s faith must be shining and bright and pure and robust.” (pg. 248)
    I read Metaxas’ book the same year that I read Oswald Chambers’ biography (Abandoned to God). Along with some other things, God used these two books to change the course of my life and lead me into becoming a writer.

    • Carole, I felt much the same about Bonhoeffer’s biography. I have read some of Oswald Chambers devotional material. In fact, I was greatly impacted by it many years ago, but I have not read his biography. I will have to add that to my list. Thanks so much for sharing. Blessings!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *