3 Lessons from Bonhoeffer

I recently finished the book Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. It was one of the best books I’ve read in the last 10 years and I took so much from it. While it’s impossible to convey everything I’m taking away from this obedient, God-fearing man, the aim of this post is to sum up 3 main takeaways from this brilliant biography.

1. Music vs. (?) Theology

I had no idea that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was such a talented musician. He grew up in a family where music was valued and family concerts were performed every Saturday night. This type of environment cultivated a deep love of music in Dietrich and gave him the ability to become an accomplished pianist, as well as guitarist and singer. Dietrich struggled whether to “choose” music or theology as he went off to school. While he ultimately “chose” theology/pastoring as his primary livelihood, he integrated music into his ministries wherever he went right up until his death. He often drew encouragement from the hymns of the faith. This struggle to “choose” one or the other ministered to me as I read this book. I have often felt the same way; yet the longer I walk with Christ the more I feel affirmed that it’s not music verses theology – it’s music and theology. They ought to work in tandem with one another.

2. Faith in Action

Bonhoeffer was a man who believed that faith required action. He was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in, even if it meant that he gained some enemies as a result. While his action against Hitler and the Nazi regime resulted in his death, it was not in vein as it helped to bring one of the greatest seasons of injustice in the world to an end. Metaxas says that for Bonhoeffer, “being a Christian was less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

3. Death

Bonhoeffer had a very mature perspective on death for the Christian. This book provoked a healthy desire in me to process death. While God has given me so many earthly blessings (a great family, a home, clothing, food, education, etc.), it’s impossible to go through a day and avoid seeing the brokenness in myself or those around me. We’re not home yet. This quote we have from Dietrich himself sums up his view:

“That life only really begins when it ends here on earth, that all that is here is only the prologue before the curtain goes up…Death is grace, the greatest gift of grace that God gives to people who believe in Him…if only we realize that it is the gateway to our homeland, the tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace.” Amen.


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