Book Review: Breakfast with Bonhoeffer, by Jon Walker

Breakfast with BonhoefferPaul wrote, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, ESV). For a long time I took this to be nothing more than Paul’s arrogance. Why imitate Paul when I can just imitate Christ? It wasn’t until I heard a brother mention how helpful it was for him to have someone in his life to whom he could look up, watch his life, and see what living like Christ looked like—someone, at least in some respects, he could imitate. But if all I have are recorded words of Paul and Jesus, why wouldn’t I just follow the words of Jesus? Well, Paul wrote a lot and expounded upon the words of Christ to help Christ’s disciples better understand them in a practical sense. Somehow, probably lost in translation, we sometimes lose the “better understanding,” in a practical sense, of Paul’s writings because we become too focused on words, archaic phrases, and getting that legalism down pat. So, we read what others have written on those words, or we listen to preachers tell us what they think they mean, and still we cling to thinking we’re “just following the Bible” and no man. But we are. We pick and choose to whom we listen and whose interpretations, however “plain” and “obvious” they may tell us they are, we choose to follow. We all imitate someone somehow. Paul just thought he was the better example over others.

Although Bonhoeffer is no longer around to “see,” he left behind many writings, many quite practical, and a legacy of which others had witnessed and written for many to imitate. For Jon Walker, Bonhoeffer is one to imitate, one whose writings has helped him better understand his life and carry it forward. Walker brings his reader on a not-so-chronological, bi-polar swaying, progressively topical journey peppered with Bonhoefferific gleanings that have helped him along the way and/or have aided in hindsight, all with the perspectival mix of student, teacher, and narrator. This is for the reader who is interested in a lifetime of change, not just a life-changing moment, in being brought closer to leaning on Jesus and following the Spirit. My suggestion is that one initially approach Breakfast with Bonhoeffer as embarking on a journey with Walker, keeping theological and practical judgments at bay until the journey’s end, at which point one may wish to revisit a time, place, or conversation for further mulling. If nothing else, it may interest the reader in picking up a copy of Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from ACU Press/Leafwood Publishers as part of their ACU Press Bookclub Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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