UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds


Book encompasses the life of a pastor, martyr, prophet and spy

By Eric Bacon

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
By Eric Metaxas
(Thomas Nelson) 21.99

If the subtitle of Eric Metaxas’s recent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has the air of a thriller — Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy — it’s a testament to the German cleric’s exceptional life. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran theologian who is remembered principally for his stand against Nazism. While his execution by the Gestapo at age 39 raises the question of how his theology would have developed, his Christocentric focus and commitment to social justice both in action and in his writings have remained influential.

The book encompasses the totality of Bonhoeffer’s life, from his birth in 1906 to his role in the German resistance.

Metaxas provides an informative summary of the insurmountable challenges facing the church in Nazi Germany. Hitler forced church elections in 1933, and the Nazi-backed German Christian movement, which planned to unite German Protestant churches into the Reich church, won 70 percent of the vote. As a result, Bonhoeffer led the charge to establish the Confessing Church, which was the centre of Protestant resistance to the Nazis.

As early as 1939, Bonhoeffer joined the German resistance movement, and a relative arranged for him to work in German counter-intelligence, where he became a double agent. He soon grew deeply involved with a plot to assassinate Hitler. In 1944, incriminating evidence was discovered and Bonhoeffer’s fate was sealed. He was hanged by the Gestapo on April 9, 1945.

For the reader who is looking for an introduction to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, this volume serves as an excellent choice. Bonhoeffer remained a man of unwavering faith in response to the incomprehensible evil of Hitler and Nazi Germany. The moral of this courageous man’s story is summed up in his own words: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Rev. Eric Bacon is chair of The Observer’s board of directors.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.


June 2017


by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart


March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image