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A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Paperback – August 11, 2009
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Original Language: German
From the Publisher
Top Customer Reviews
As one of the major figures of the minority 'Confessing Church' (along with Karl Barth) who rejected Nazism's total claims on the churches, Bonhoeffer spoke out in favour of the Jews, whom he called 'the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ'. He was arrested by the Gestapo on suspicion of being part of a group planning to assassinate Hitler. Then, just weeks before the end of the war and Hitler's suicide, he and his co-conspirators were executed, hung by piano-wire before the dictator's malicious eyes.
In the almost sixty years since his death, Bonhoeffer's influence has continued to grow as more and more people have encountered his forward-thinking theology and the way it was lived out concretely in his life. Today he is fast surpassing Barth and Tillich as the major (German) Protestant theologian of the 20th century. There is good reason for this: Bonhoeffer was an original thinker, and all his thoughts came out of a concrete experience of God in real life, and the quest to serve and follow God - always a dynamic process - rather than serving rigid 'principles' that can never fully encompass the divine will.
This book makes for an excellent introduction to this powerful theologian's work. Serious students may then wish to turn to the full volumes of 'The Cost of Discipleship', 'Ethics' (Bonhoeffer's unfinished masterpiece), and the important and compassionate 'Letters and Papers from Prison'. Learn why this is the man many are calling not only a martyr, but also a saint.
I have a German background, my mum was a German teacher, and when someone sent me Bonhoeffer's poem "Wer bin Ich?" (in english "Who Am I?") I was overcome with emotion and conviction.
This poem is only one powerful part of Bonhoeffer's extensive writings. This poem, reaffirming Bohoeffer's faith and trust in God, was written by Bonhoeffer when he was prisoner in a Nazi camp for conspiring against Hitler.
Bonhoeffer knew that the Nazi control of Germany and the holocaust of the Jews/Minorities was wrong. While many stood aside and did nothing, Bonhoeffer was hung by the Nazis for his dedication to freedom and righteousness. He once wrote:
"We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds. We have been drenched by many storms. Experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open. Are we still of any use?"
The threat of death did not phase Bonhoeffer, he saw his actions as a responsibility: "Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility."
He also wrote, sounding very much like the Apostle Paul: "To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ."
This is a wonderful collection of Bonhoeffer's writings in an easy to read translation.
In an illuminating introductory section, the editors chart some of the details of Bonhoeffer's life and provide insights into his character. "His life," they assert, "was a unity in that mysterious oneness where all contradictions are resolved in the experience of God's abiding love and forgive¬ness. 'Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine'" (p. 4). Consequently, in the opinion of Payne Best, a British Secret Service officer who witnessed Bonhoeffer's final days in prison, he "'always seemed to diffuse an atmosphere of happiness, of joy in every smallest event in life, and a deep gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive. . . . He was one of the very few men I have ever met to whom his God was real and ever close to him'" (p. 45). Following the introduction, the book divides into seven parts, topics within which Bonhoeffer's writings appear in chronological order. The topics include Bonhoeffer as a teacher, a pastor, a leader in the Confessing Church, and a letter writer.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Chapter 46 "The Secret of Suffering" is worth the price of the book alone. Excellent.Published 1 month ago by Karen Page
Haven't finished it but I know D. Bonhoeffer will not disappoint me.Published 7 months ago by Pat Smith
Timely arrival, good condition. Content emphasizes suffering too much, as if it is a virtue in itself.Published 17 months ago by Brigitte Gleason
We need more pastors like this, his thinking is amazing, and is far outside the modern day box of Jesus loves me, John 3:16. Definitely recommend for serious studiers.Published on May 30, 2014 by Justin Moody
I am really liking the wide variety of writings by Bonhoeffer that have been collected in this book. Read morePublished on April 18, 2014 by dcdaddy
A compilation of all his great works, personal letters and even sermons. Makes a great gift to anyone interested in Bonhoeffer. What a great find!Published on April 8, 2014 by Charles Frechette
I love Bonhoeffer. This is a great book and highly recommended. Bonhoeffer is a compelling Christian still speaking 70 years after his death.Published on April 1, 2014 by eddie ozols