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Bonhoeffer as Martyr: Social Responsibility and Modern Christian Commitment Paperback – April 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Brazos Press (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587430746
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587430749
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,303,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Houghton on July 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
As a relative newcomer to the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blended study of martyrdom and Bonhoeffer's life. Both well-organized and clearly communicated, the text provides a thorough and nuanced view into the life of an inspiring man in whom there was little difference between belief and action. I was especially interested in the life-altering effect the Sermon on the Mount had on Bonhoeffer's view of social responsibility. Throughout the central theme threads are woven among a rich collection of friends, philosophers, theologians, and many others, all of whom add color to the larger fabric of a life lived under the sign of the cross.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James A. M. on June 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
By far, this is probably, at least to my knowledge, the most thoroughgoing treatment of the possible 'martryrdom' of Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer, who ran an underground seminary, resisted Hitler and the collusion of church and state, was part of a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. Once a Christian pacifist, Bonhoeffer felt so strongly about the dissolution of the church through, specifically, its persecution of Jews, that Bonhoefffer decided to act in what he hoped would be a faithful attempt to end this madness. Salvation is of the Jews, yet here was a Christian nation killing them. He had to do something. Of course, any decent person would have to do something, the question is whether or not a Christian can attempt to assassinate another human being and still provide a visible witness to the kingdom of God. Does a person show the image of Jesus when they attempt to blow another human being, no matter how wicked, to pieces? Probably not. Unfortunately, we are left thinking that if one does not employ violence in the name of some good (in this, Bonhoeffer simply mirrored the reactions of every noble 'hero' throughout history), then there is nothing else to be done. This is not Bonhoeffer's fault, this is the church's for not giving him any other alternative. People like Trocme risked much and actually did far more good, in relation to the saving of innocent people, through other means than violence. Again, Bonhoeffer should not be faulted. The church failed him.

Slane does an excellent job making the case for his martyrdom, unfortunately, he seems to assume that politics is primarily about the business of violence. I have yet to be convinced that Jesus would fire a bullet into the body of another human being, and therefore, though Bonhoeffer should be widely read (I love his Ethics, Life Together, and Cost of Discipleship!!), and greatly admired, I am not convinced that he is a martyr.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jan Peczkis on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Bonhoeffer opposed Nazism on moral grounds since long before WWII, and contrasted with those who belatedly developed an anti-Hitler policy in the face of Germany's increasingly-certain military defeat, the potential for ghastly Allied retribution, etc. This book provides a solid history of martyrdom, and discusses the modern politics/religion dichotomy and how it impacts Bonhoeffer's martyr status. Does Bonhoeffer the political figure diminish Bonhoeffer the religious leader? Also, assuming the premise that martyrs must submit to God's will and not try to change their fate, does Bonhoeffer's advocacy of violence against Hitler disqualify him from being a martyr? Interestingly, the account of Bonhoeffer's death at Flossenburg may be apocryphal.

This work elaborates on Bonhoeffer's theological and moral views, and his ardent anti-Nazism, but does not necessarily answer fundamental questions about them. The emphasis on the Holocaust, both in this book and in popular culture in general, de-emphasizes questions about non-Jewish victims of the Nazis. For instance, what did Bonhoeffer think of the Nazi aggression and genocidal acts against the Poles? And, taking this discussion beyond Hitler and Nazism itself, one wonders if Bonhoeffer would've considered the pre-Nazi German aggressions against Poland as morally acceptable.

Many religious figures have made Bonhoeffer their hero. Pope John Paul honored Bonhoeffer, even though the Catholic Church cannot make saints out of people outside its communion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ssumner on October 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Craig Slane's book is insightful. It is a very intellectual piece; yet it is even more so an earthy commentary on the basics of the meaning of life.

Anyone who has suffered authentically for the cause of Christ at some personal expense will recognize immediately the truthfulness of Slane's musings and the excellence of his choice in selecting quotes that support his overall message which, indeed, is beautifully nuanced and multi-faceted. Dr. Slane's points are so tightly woven together that one might think he is merely musing about the definition of martyrdom or trying, as a scholar, to say something fresh about Bonhoeffer. That is not at all what he is doing, even though he's certainly doing both of those things.

Dr. Slane is doing something more profound. He is teaching his readers, taking solidarity with his readers, trying to tell us something about sin and the nature of sinners and the epic struggle every sinner must engage if he or she genuinely is to imitate Christ.

Most of all, He is telling us about Christ. He's explaining what Jesus did and why what Jesus did makes all the difference. He's explaining the Kingdom of God and the paradox of its redemptive upsidedownness. He's offering us a way to make sense of the ultimatum God gives to every person without exception--to choose between Life and Death. That's it. Those are the only two choices.

Slane's point, imperfectly embodied in Bonhoeffer, yet perfectly embodied in Christ is that death is a corridor into life when death is rightly approached. Yes, to choose Death is to die. To choose Life, however, is to die too, but dying the death of Life is categorically different from dying the death of Death.
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