Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bonhoeffer: a book by Eric Metaxas

“And when you pray, pray like this…”
by Charlie Leck

I noticed in a newspaper photograph the other day that President Obama was holding up a copy of a fairly new book by Eric Metaxas [BONHOEFFER]. The author had just given a copy to the President. Yesterday I stopped at our village bookstore and picked up a copy of the book.

I’ve written pretty extensively here about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His life’s story is a compelling one and his mind was extraordinary. His faith is inspiring. I won’t go into the story again (perhaps, that is, until I’ve finished the Metaxas book, which has begun wonderfully), but I do want to remind you that should know about Dietrich and his life. It’s a requirement for the educated person.

He died in a German concentration camp just a few days before the allied forces arrived to free its prisoners. He was executed by the Nazis for playing a part in the attempted assassination of Adolph Hitler.

Affected by simple caprice, I am tempted to write more of him here. Instead, I’ll simply provide a link to one of those blogs of several years ago…

I posted this blog [Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)] in April, 2007. It is a copy of an essay I wrote in 1995 for a 50th anniversary celebration of Bonhoeffer’s death.

Bonhoeffer is a giant among thinking Christians. He didn’t see Christianity as easy; it called for sacrifice and discipline. He understood the salvation in Christ that Christians talk about; he also understood the obligation it put upon the life of him/her who is saved. No work has influenced my understanding of Christianity any more than Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship!

Now I look forward to the next couple of days during which I will read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. Look for a review and recap of the book here soon.

By the way, Metaxas spoke at that National Prayer Breakfast a couple of days ago and you can read an account about the prayer gathering if you’d like and you can also watch the President’s remarks and the statement by Eric Metaxas on this page. You can pick and choose and watch what you want of this gathering, but I went ahead and watched the entire hour and a half – and I’m happy I did. Metaxas was excellent. There were also some remarkably beautiful and meaningful prayers.

“Prayer is from the heart,” Metaxas said. “We do not try to fool God with phony religiosity! …Prayers come from a place of honesty!”

At another point in his remarks, Metaxas said: “Remember, when some people tell you… ‘I am a Christian,’ they may not know what they’re talking about!” Later he said: “Human beings do not do the right thing apart from God’s intervention!”

Metaxas is genuinely funny and he had me laughing pretty hard a few times. He’s creative and innovative also. If you do listen to his remarks you’ll be pleased you did.

It was extremely interesting to hear President Obama talk about his family’s visit to see evangelist Billy Graham at his Carolina home. Graham has prayed for U.S. presidents for a long, long time now and he prayed for the President during that visit. Obama was very moved and surprised the evangelist by asking if he might pray for him. Somewhere inside himself Obama had found the courage to ask and the ability to utter a simple prayer for the Reverend Mr. Graham.

We have a surprising president in this man. I wish more people in the country would be open to the possibility of getting to know him.

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