Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 125:497 (Jan 1968)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Way To Freedom. By Dietrich Bonhoeffer. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1966. 272 pp. $4.50.

Although Dietrich Bonhoeffer never conformed to the ordinary standards of Biblical orthodoxy and raised more questions than he answered, his heroic commitment to what he believed right has inspired many seeking reality in Christian faith. This volume republishes certain letters, lectures, and notes written from 1935 to 1939 and helps to explain the author’s decision to return to Germany from America and suffer with his fellow Christians ending with his execution by Hitler. The title of the book is taken from one of his poems entitled “Stations on the Way to Freedom” in which four stages to freedom are itemized, namely, “Discipline,” “Action,” “Suffering,” and “Death.” Bonhoeffer’s commitment to these principles does much to explain his heroic action.

The contents of the book deal with the tragic days of compromise in Germany as Hitler’s government gradually brought pressure upon the church to conform to his political pattern. The growing resistance movement, of which Bonhoeffer was a part, indeed illustrates the way to freedom which ended in death for many who were faithful to their convictions.

Bonhoeffer may be characterized as a restless spirit seeking reality, which actually he never found. Interesting insight is his comment on a sermon by Dr. John Hess McComb in Broadway Presbyterian Church of New York. On the same day, Sunday, June 18, 1939, he had attended a service at Riverside Church which he pronounced “Quite unbearable” (p. 230). He characterized the Riverside Church service in these words: “The whole thing was a respectable, self-indulgent, self-satisfied, religious celebration…. Such sermons make for libertinism, egotism, indifference.” By contrast he characterized Dr. McComb’s sermon in these words: “A completely biblical sermon…. This [i.e., Broadway Presbyterian Church] will one day be a centre of resistance when Riverside Church has long since become a temple of Baal. I was very glad about this sermon” (p. 231). One wonders what Bonhoeffer’s ultimate decision theologically would have been if he had ever had adequate exposure to Biblical orthodoxy as it is known in many churches in America.

J. F. Walvoord

The Altizer-Montgomery Dialogue. Chicago: Inter-Varsity Press, 1967. 96 pp. Paper. $.95.

This is a transcript of a debate (certainly no dialogue) between John Warwick Montgomery of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Thomas J. J. Altizer of Emory University, well known for his “death-of-God” viewpoint. The “dialogue” was held at t...

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