Thursday, July 17, 2014
Strange Grace - A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I had heard a little about and had read portions of the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life prior to reading the new biography written regarding his life by Charles Marsh. But I had not encountered quite so thorough a treatment of the details of his tale until my recent selection. This book was offered to me for free through the book review program for bloggers, available at http://www.bloggingforbooks.org from the Crown Publishing Group and since I enjoy reading biographies, I decided to give it a try.
If you are unfamiliar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life, a little background will be helpful before you even begin. Bonhoeffer was a German Pastor and Theologian who was executed during World War II for his "crimes against the state". The book discusses that portion of his life, and the rest of it, quite extensively, so I won't delve into the story for now. But, I will state that it was his courageous stand against the Hitler regime and the means he was willing to go to which would finally earn him the execution he received.
First, the book does what a biography should, which is thoroughly cover Bonhoeffer's life with complete chronological investigation, And, it is to be commended for that point. However, I feel that this strength is also it's weakness, as it made the book extremely long for me, and I found it hard to finish once I had started, when I normally am a diligent reader.
Second, perhaps you may feel differently when you read it, but, I did not find the theology Bonhoeffer espoused clearly differentiated. Many famous theologians and professors are mentioned throughout the tale, and while I had heard a few of their names before, I was not able to understand where that put Bonhoeffer's beliefs because of his interest in these leaders. I also felt like Bonhoeffer's faith wavered in where he DID stand at times throughout his life, so a clear place where he landed was not readily identifiable on the theological map.
But, last, the story does need to be heard. I found the descriptions of Hitler's rise to power and how it progressively affected the Christian believers to be eerily parallel to the build-up occurring presently in the western world. It would do good for everyone as a Christian to study this history, realize the time we're living in, and like Bonhoeffer of old, determine what we are willing to live for and to die for, prior to no linger being given a choice. I hope that if you read this selection, it will sober you to the truth that makes men free, the truth that is only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.