Bible Lessons from a Spy

I have been reading my Father’s Day gift recently, it is a book called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. It is a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and with a title like that I could hardly resist! Bonhoeffer was a pastor and a leader in the German resistance to Hitler, earning him the title of ‘spy’. His life was ended by the Nazi’s in a concentration camp as a result of this resistance. I have been so inspired by Bonhoeffer’s example and even though I am only 40% through the book, I thought I would post something he said that has inspired me in my endeavors to be a Bible translator. This is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to a friend who had given into the liberal theology of the day that taught that we really cannot trust the Bible. Instead we need to search out the true “canon within the canon” and filter out the rest. Here was what Bonhoeffer said:

If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands. This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament. . . . And I would like to tell you now quite personally: since I have learnt to read the Bible in this way—and this has not been for so very long—it becomes every day more wonderful to me. I read it in the morning and the evening, often during the day as well, and every day I consider a text which I have chosen for the whole week, and try to sink deeply into it, so as really to hear what it is saying. I know that without this I could not live properly any longer.*

So, why does this inspire me? I realize as I read this that the theology that surrounds me in the world today is not different from that which Bonhoeffer is addressing. We are taught that God is a God of love, but that he is certainly not a judge. As a culture we do not like confrontation, therefore we invent a god that never confronts. We get offended when people make judgments about us, therefore we invent a god who does not judge. We want to define love as it best fits our lifestyle, therefore we invent a god that approves of homosexuality, materialism, and abortion. And by picking and choosing texts from the Bible, we can make it fit our desires. But the Bible does not work like that. If we read the Bible as God’s Word, it confronts our theology and our lifestyle. It tells us who we can sleep with, how we should spend our money, and how we should respond to crises.

The truth is, then, that the Bible is the most valuable thing on earth. It not only contains the words of God, it IS the Word of God. And no matter the culture of the reader, the Bible will definitely confront presuppositions, worldviews, and life choices. But only because they need to be confronted. Like me, the people of Cameroon need to see their sin, to see how they do not line up with God, so that they can repent and seek after Him in faith. But they can only do this if they have God’s Word,

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

This quote then is a reminder that of all of the things I could bring to the people of Cameroon, they need the Bible the most. It makes me excited to go!

*Metaxas, Eric (2010-04-20). Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (p. 137). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.


In case you missed it last week, Stacey added a new tab to the top called ‘Missions at Home.’ This is a help for those of you who desire to raise your children with awareness of Global Missions. Stacey compiled a lot of resources for you there, check it out!


Author: David M. Hare

Dave is a husband, father of four Africans, and is currently helping the Kwakum people do Oral Bible Storying and Bible translation in Cameroon, Africa.