The figure of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) has become a clay puppet in modern American politics. Secular, radical, liberal, and evangelical interpreters variously shape and mold the martyr’s legacy to suit their own pet agendas.
Stephen Haynes offers an incisive and clarifying perspective. A recognized Bonhoeffer expert, Haynes examines “populist” readings of Bonhoeffer, including the acclaimed biography by Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. In his analysis Haynes treats, among other things, the November 2016 election of Donald Trump and the “Bonhoeffer moment” announced by evangelicals in response to the US Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Battle for Bonhoeffer includes an open letter from Haynes pointedly addressing Christians who still support Trump. Bonhoeffer’s legacy matters. Haynes redeems the life and the man.
Stephen Haynes has written a must-read Bonhoeffer book. Tracing Bonhoeffer’s American reception over time through scholarship, op-ed pieces, blogs, documentaries, artistic presentations, and more, Haynes uncovers—with striking clarity—the range of images of Bonhoeffer and his legacy, paying particular attention to the evangelical appropriation of that legacy and its role in current political realities. I cannot commend this book highly enough.
—Lori Brandt Hale, Augsburg University
Highly visible US evangelicals endorsed and still support Donald Trump, some doing so in the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to the horror of the vast majority of serious students of the great German theologian and resister. Stephen Haynes long ago carved out a niche as the single best scholarly interpreter of the American reception of Bonhoeffer. Here he not only updates his scholarly work but also enters the Bonhoeffer-Trump-evangelicals debate himself with an impassioned warning to evangelicals to reverse their surrender to Trump before it is too late. This is a riveting book that every US Christian should read—immediately
—David P. Gushee, Center for Theology & Public Life, Mercer University
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Stephen R. Haynes is professor of religious studies at Rhodes College and theologian-in-residence at Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The coauthor of Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians, he has also written articles about Bonhoeffer and American culture for the Huffington Post and the Christian Century.