There is plenty that we can learn from the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, especially when it comes to challenging a sleeping, compromising and errant church. He was among the first to see the warning signs about the Nazis, and took a strong stance, which sadly many of his fellow Christians resisted.

Even some of his allies were a bit slow to see the dangers, including Martin Niemoller. Thus Bonhoeffer was acting in a prophetic capacity, sounding the alarm and warning the church not to get too cosy with this new and dangerous regime.

Back in the early 1930s he was sounding the alarm, when very few other believers were even aware of the dangerous path the nation was heading on. And even as believers did become aware of what the Nazis were on about, including their ugly anti-Semitism, too many Christians simply ignored the warning signs or were willing to compromise.

All this is clearly spelled out in the newest and most comprehensive biography of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, (Bonhoeffer, Thomas Nelson, 2010). In 600 pages his life story is told in careful detail. It is an extremely valuable book and has plenty of relevance for Christians today.

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