Clerics are seen sieg-heiling and speaking lovingly of their Fuhrer with a reverence that convicts them of spiritual adultery. Bonhoeffer bravely stood against them as he participated in the formation of the "Confessing Church," which, among other things, spoke up for the Jews. The high regard in which the Bonhoeffer family was held in Germany and their supreme intellect temporarily protected Dietrich from the hands of the Gestapo.
Inevitably he was arrested, but even then he won the respect of prison guards, who offered him special treatment, which he refused. Further complicating things and adding to his temptation to live was that he had fallen in love with a young woman, 18 years his junior. Their love letters, mostly written when Dietrich was in prison, are riveting.
Metaxas writes, "Bonhoeffer thought it the plain duty of a Christian -- and the privilege and honor -- to suffer with those who suffered." That's why he considered it both privilege and honor to be executed at the Flossenburg Concentration Camp on April 9, 1945 where his body was burned in a pile of bodies, many of which were likely Jewish. The doctor at the camp said he had never seen anyone die with such peace. Two weeks later, the Allies marched into Flossenburg. A week after that, Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker.
Bonhoeffer's memorial service at Holy Trinity Church in London on July 27, 1945 was broadcast in Germany where his parents listened. The sermon by Bonhoeffer's longtime friend, Bishop George Bell, is reprinted in the book.
In an age (then and now) full of "cheap grace," here is a book that will challenge Christians and non-Christians alike. Few books can claim to be a "must-read." This is one.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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