Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man of academic excellence, theological insight, and spiritual fortitude. During August, you can get his inspiring insight free—download Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 3: Creation and Fall today!
The life of Bonhoeffer
On February 4, 1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born to an aristocratic family with a rich history and noble character. Bonhoeffer’s father was a psychiatrist and neurologist, his mother was a teacher, his great-grandfather—Karl von Hase—was a popular protestant theologian, and his brother was a renowned chemist. Dignity and honor ran thick in his family’s veins and Bonhoeffer laid at the crux of it all.
As Bonhoeffer matured, he began blazing a trail in Christian history. He pressed on toward theological studies at the University of Tübingen, where he completed his Staatsexamen (the equivalent of a master’s degree). But Bonhoeffer had no plans of halting his education—by 25, Bonhoeffer had completed two doctorates at Berlin University. Still wanting more, he traveled to America where he studied under Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, at Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Shortly after returning from his postgraduate studies at Union Theological Seminary, Bonhoeffer began to pen his series of lectures on Genesis 1–3, which he presented as a professor at the University of Berlin. This series has since been compiled into Creation and Fall, August’s free book.
In Creation and Fall, Bonhoeffer juxtaposes our origin to the fall of mankind. He emphasizes the earth’s creation as the middle of eternity, which belongs to the eternal God. Furthermore, Bonhoeffer anchors Christ at the center of it all.
Carrying on against all odds
Not long after Bonhoeffer’s return to the University of Berlin came the Third Reich’s rise to power. By 1936, the Nazi suppression of the Confessing Church—a church that Bonhoeffer and a colleague formed in resistance to the Nazi-controlled state churches—intensified and revoked Bonhoeffer’s authority to teach at the University of Berlin. Bonhoeffer was deemed an enemy of the state by Theodor Heckel.
In response, Bonhoeffer boldly moved forward by creating underground seminaries, securing the necessary funds from supporting benefactors. It was through one of these benefactors that he met Maria von Wedemeyer, who he pledged to marry just months before his arrest. It was also during this time that Bonhoeffer composed The Cost of Discipleship.
After being arrested for his involvement with the Abwehr—a German intelligence agency at the center of the anti-Hitler resistance—and the 20 July plot on Hitler’s life, he was sent to Tegel Prison. He spent a year and half awaiting trial, during which he wrote Fiction from Tegel Prison. Though this volume is fictional, Bonhoeffer disclosed to his friend and biographer, Eberhard Bethge, “There is a good deal of autobiography mixed with it.” This book discloses much of Bonhoeffer’s aristocratic childhood, social world, and cultural milieu—all of which shed light on his theology. Characters and situations that represent the Nazi regime form a social criticism and help explain Bonhoeffer’s participation with the Abwehr and the plot to kill Hitler. This month only, you can get Fiction from Tegel Prison (a $27.95 value) for only 99 cents.
Learn from Bonhoeffer’s legacy
Eighteen months later, Bonhoeffer was moved to the house prison of the Reich Security Head Office. In secrecy, he was then transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp, and finally to Flossenburg concentration camp where he was condemned to death by hanging without witnesses, records, or a defense on April 8, 1945—just two weeks before the camp was liberated by the US infantry.
Though Bonhoeffer’s life was cut short, he left a legacy that has spans generations, and reaches across broad denominations.
Download both Creation and Fall and Fiction from Tegel for only $0.99!
Then, explore all of Bonhoeffer’s works and enter to win the entire collection.