The book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas and published by Thomas Nelson (Repeat edition, 2011) is a deep, riveting analysis of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is very extensive, containing over 500 pages of interesting information about Dietrich, a man who submitted to nothing and no one except God and his Word.

As Adolph Hitler and the Nazis fooled a nation and attempted to exterminate the Jews of Europe, a small number of scholars attempted to destroy the Third Reich from the inside. Bonhoeffer was one of these. It is convicting to read of his bravery in the face of evil.

In 1898, Dietrich’s parents, Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer were married, and within a decade, brought eight children into the world. All of the children were born in Breslau, Germany, where Karl held the chair in psychiatry and neurology at the university. He was also the director at the hospital for nervous diseases. Their large house at 7 Birkenwaldchen was near the clinic.

On February 4, 1906, the Bonhoeffer’s youngest son Dietrich was born just before his twin sister, Sabine. Their mother, Paula taught the children herself until they were eight, then she sent them to public schools where they excelled. Although their father, Karl, was not a Christian he allowed their mother to teach them the Bible and hymns. In this strong and loving family, the children were taught to live by biblical principles and to think for themselves.

Dietrich’s father was appointed to the chair of psychiatry and neurology in Berlin in 1912. He retained this position until his death in 1948. Even though his wife Paula was a Christian and they had an excellent marriage, Karl was wary of anything beyond what one might observe with his senses. He could be termed an agnostic. However, he never stood in the way of his wife instructing the children in the Bible and prayer.

The Bonhoeffers were a very musical family. They would conduct musical evenings every Saturday night. Dietrich’s sister Sabine wrote, “Usually the boys began with a trio. Karl-Friedrich played the piano, Walter the violin and Klaus the cello. Then Dietrich accompanied my mother as she sang. The big sisters sang duets, as well as Lieder by Shubert, Brahms, and Beethoven.”

In August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. The two oldest sons, Karl-Friedrich and Walter were called to war. In April of 1917, Walter died. This was a spiritual turning point for Dietrich. He began to think more seriously about God and his faith. In 1918, Germany lost the war. The monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm, admitted defeat.

In 1920, when Dietrich was 14, he determined he wanted to become a theologian. From this point on, he focused on his education, attending schools and seminaries. At the age of 18, He began speaking to others. He traveled throughout Europe and America. Here is a quote from the book that shares the beginning of the change in Germany,

“On January 30, 1933 at noon, Adolph Hitler became the democratically elected chancellor of Germany. The land of Goethe, Schiller and Bach would now be led by someone who consorted with crazies and criminals, who was often seen carrying a dog whip in public. The Third Reich had begun.”

Many issues and problems arose, but Dietrich went against Hitler, and fought for God’s truth to prevail. He preached sermons, wrote books and instructed others in the Lord. The last book he wrote was called Discipleship, known generally in English as The Cost of Discipleship, is certainly worth reading.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer died in a German prison at the age of 45.

Here is one of his quotes that has inspired me:

“If we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes, and by showing a real sympathy that springs, not from fear, but from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. The Christian is called to sympathy and action, not in the first place by his own sufferings, but by the sufferings of his brethren, for whose sake Christ suffered.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput states, “Metaxas has created a biography of uncommon power–intelligent, moving, well researched, vividly written and rich in implication for our own lives.”

I know that your will find this story as life-changing as I did.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her six children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law and one-daughter-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for more than 35 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”