Someone needs to do a heavily abridged version of this that keeps the basic story line and the wonderful quotes from Bonhoeffer's writings and letters; it would be a gift to the church.
At 933 pages, I can hardly embark upon an in-depth review of this book, nor would I hardly want to, as this author includes much more detail than is realistically necessary to simply relate the life of Bonhoeffer. Similarly, this is as much a history of the German church as it is a biography of Bonhoeffer. Regardless of how diabolical Hitler may have been, the German people allowed their society to be misdirected by a madman. The choices became either Germanism or Christianity. This book details the efforts of Hitlers administration to destroy the Christian church. More diabolically, Hitlers aim was simply to instigate war in order to infuse suffering and misery into the world. Conscientious Objectors: We must always ask ourselves, even today: does the pledge to our nation state supersede our devotion to that which is most high? Can we really deny the rights of conscientious objectors to refrain from war? How much longer might President Johnson have continued to sacrifice American soldiers in Vietnam because of his nationalistic pride, had not society ultimately arose in protest? The evil of war will never be defeated by negotiations between leaders of nation states who are intoxicated with their own power. Somehow our society sees acceptability in the sacrifice of ones life in war for a nation state but absurd the sacrifice of ones life in non-violent protest. So long as men allow themselves to be manipulated into believing it is somehow right to kill one another, war will continue. Wouldnt it be much better to sacrifice ones life in protest as a conscientious objector, standing for what one believes, than to be killed as a soldier in a war over something that one doesnt fully understand? Conscientious Objectors helped bring the Vietnam War to an end. Discerning and unveiling the truth is part of our obligation as Christians, but we must understand that everything cannot be true so long as we are in the world, for if everything becomes true, the concept of false is eliminated, and hence truth becomes so generic that we are unable to see it clearly. Seeing Hitler helps us to better see Christ! German Propaganda Posters We use falsity to uncover and illuminate truth when, for example, we deploy a fairytale or myth that may not necessarily be literally true but may still convey an important moral truth. For example, the story of the Prodigal Son need not have occurred in the exact literal fashion that it is related in order for us to understand the important moral truths of love and forgiveness that it conveys. Ultimately, our faith may eventually gain sufficient proportion that we are able to jettison all doubt and see truth as concrete fact, at which time we become anew. Instead of merely protesting on ideological grounds, Bonhoeffer sought to work with those who were trying to overthrow Hitler and shape a new future. Bonhoeffers decision to stand with the opposition might be better understood by an American in relation to the institution of slavery in the United States. Standing against the Nazis was social suicide, as it was for any white person standing up for the Civil rights movement in the 60s, as it is still today for the conscientious objector. Ecumenicalism: Dietrich Bonhoeffer spent much effort in furthering the ecumenical movement in the world during his time. He was, I think, enthusiastic about how ecumenism could ultimately be the church, through the process of placing the grace of God above denominational doctrines. The extinguishment of war, race hatred, and social exploitation is a common goal that should bind the churches of the world together in ecumenism. To be Christian is to stand against these things, to extinguish them, to make them unreal, and to have faith in the hope of the ultimate finality. If our focus is solely upon our perception of the perfect heaven, of that which comes in the hereafter, then we tend to forget the penultimate or the time just before, within which God has destined that we should live. The separation of the sheep from the goats is the separation of those who understand their place in the penultimate and embrace hope for a better future from those who are nihilistic, fatalistic, and think only of the hereafter (or only of the here and now). Because of their lack of faith, hope, and belief in the coming kingdom, the goats fight and compete incessantly to be king of the here and now. Even for adults, it is not the process of baptism, but the awakening realization of God that we are seeking. Baptism is something that is simply symbolic of how easily sin is washed away by authentic repentance. Christians must come to understand that the Word is the kingdom of God and that it is better to display naturalness in obedience to God than to construct elaborate superstructure that unbelievers must climb through just to get to the simplicity of the Word.
I actually watched the movie Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace but I did use this book as a reference. Crafton Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace: A Reflection of a Historical Work Lauren Crafton History 495 Professor Thomas 2 February 2004 Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace is a made-for-TV movie that focuses on the last sixteen years of Dietrich Bonhoeffers life. The movie portrays his struggle with morality and ethics during a time when the government had none. The story line then takes Bonhoeffer to Germany where he quickly becomes involved with an anti-Nazi effort to take out Hitler. The last scene may be the most important in conveying who Dietrich Bonhoeffer actually was. When asked what he set out to accomplish with Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace, he said, To bring to the public a story of someone who shows us moral action in a period of great evil. Till was intrigued by a man who struggled so much with ethical and moral questions. Most reviews on the movie praise its excellent representation of the man Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his internal conflict with morality. A few critics complain about the movies lack of drama compared to other Bonhoeffer films; however, most critics enjoy Ulrich Tukurs portrayal of an externally calm and patient man. In a review by The Record, they state, By not presenting him as a standard hero, the film makes Bonhoeffer's life even more dramatic; for it shows a rather 'ordinary' man living in difficult times whose faith leads him to do extraordinary things. Schroth of the National Catholic Reporter critiques a line in the movie delivered by an elderly escaping Jew, who is questioning using Nazi help to escape. Schroth is appreciative that the movie at least portrays at least one question on the veracity of Dietrichs ethics. Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace was critiqued by a wide variety including a Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Ginsberg. This review is based on the portrayal of Dietrichs young fiancé. Most reviews praise the humble portrayal of Bonhoeffer, while expressing their disapproval for the liberties taken which are not necessary to tell the story. As I began watching Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace I quickly became captivated by Ulrich Tukurs portrayal of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When one of his ethics in question was presented in the movie, it never seemed as if he believed in what he had written. The portrayal of Bonhoeffers fiancée was the main drawback in the movie. The actual Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born on February 4th, 1906 and died April 9th, 1945. Dietrich Bonhoeffer...was a German Lutheran theologian and preacher who worked for the ecumene and strongly opposed the anti-semitic policies of Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace Oregon Public Broadcasting, Aid Association for Lutherans, and PBS Online, 2000 (7 February 2004). (7 February 2004.) The Record, Hackensack, NJ Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace Oregon Public Broadcasting, Aid Association for Lutherans, and PBS Online, 2000 /film/reviews.html> (7 February 2004). Bonhoeffer:Agent of Grace Robert-Forster Movie Reviews < Forster_3.html" http://www.vhs-movie-review.com/Ridle...- Forster_3.html> (7 February 2004). A theologian in Nazi Germany AGENT OF GRACE'.(Review) (television program review) National Catholic Reporter, 16 June 2000 " rel="nofollow">http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m1...
Bonhoeffer left nearly all of his church relationships behind and entered into the conspiracy. Well at some point, connected with an operation to help 11 Jews to escape, Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi were arrested and sent to prison to be interrogated. At this point, Dohnanyi had actually been the record keeper of all the Nazi criminal activity (Zossen Files) in an attempt to gather leaders for a cou attempt, had been involved personally in two attempts to plant explosives on Hitler's plane (both times, the fuses failed to detonate) among other things. It was while Bonhoeffer was in prison that he wrote letters that were smuggled out, mainly to Eberhard about the Christ in the world come of age, nonreligious interpretation, Christ as the "man for others" and a return to the arcane discipline.
It is a great book that gives the reader an in depth understanding not only of Bonhoeffer's character but also of the character of the Christian church before and during WWII and the moral dilemmas the church had to face.