1 of 2view allJUNE 2010
A decade ago, Christianity Today published a list of the ten best religious books of the 20th century. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship came in second, behind only C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity—a measure of Bonhoeffer's standing among contemporary Christians, and evangelicals in particular. And yet until now, American readers have lacked an account of Bonhoeffer's life that is both thorough and engagingly readable, a book that captures the full sweep of his remarkable story and highlights its meaning for us today. In Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas has given us just such a book.
Library shelves are already loaded with studies of Bonhoeffer from every conceivable angle. In The Bonhoeffer Phenomenon: Portraits of a Protestant Saint, Stephen Haynes argues that Bonhoeffer fits the criteria for a saint, while Craig Slane has written a monograph entitled Bonhoeffer as Martyr. But for the television and movie-soaked American evangelical, perhaps Bonhoeffer's appeal can be explained best with the term "hero," in the "Entertainment Weekly All-time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture" sense: James Bond, Superman, Spider-Man, Jack Bauer, Batman, etc. An intelligent, courageous, romantic figure faces stark choices as the world is threatened by a ruthless evil that perhaps only he has the power to stop.