Some notes on two books I’ve read recently:

Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Eric Metaxas
Thomas Nelson, 2010

I have been fond of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer ever since I first read The Cost of Discipleship. I had heard bits and pieces of his life story, and I knew of his involvement in the conspiracy against Hitler in the 1940’s.

But a new biography gives us a broader picture of his life and thought. Eric Metaxas shows us Bonhoeffer as a theologian of action. Bonhoeffer was not interested in theology for theology’s sake. He was determined to boldly act upon his faith, which during the Nazi era led him into ethical quandaries demanding difficult decisions.

Some have debated whether Bonhoeffer was solidly evangelical or more of a Barthian neo-orthodox thinker. Metaxas’ book describes Bonhoeffer as the former, though he would have shared Barth’s disgust at the vapid liberalism in American mainline churches.

This book ably combines a look at Bonhoeffer the theologian and Bonhoeffer the man. We are treated to portions of his letters from more than twenty years of correspondence. We are also given a glimpse into his theology through extensive quotes from his writing. I can’t recommend this biography highly enough. It’s a gem that will undoubtedly make my top ten book list of 2010.

Your Intercultural Marriage:
A Guide to a Healthy, Happy Relationship

Marla Alupoaicei
Moody, 2009
*** 1/2

Not too long ago, our family was driving through town listening to music in our car. After several songs on our playlist, I realized that not one of them had been in English! We had sung songs in Romanian, Spanish, Italian, and Latin. It was then that I remembered, Oh yeah! We’re a multicultural family.

When visiting Romania last year, Corina and I did a radio interview and were asked what it’s like to have an international marriage. Our response? “It’s the only marriage we’ve ever had. We don’t know what to compare it to!”

Your Intercultural Marriage is written by an American woman married to a Romanian man. The book places intercultural marriage within an evangelical framework. To some degree, all marriages are inter-cultural, but some (like mine, I suppose) are more intercultural than others. Marla’s book provides helpful suggestions in avoiding common cultural pitfalls.

My only disappointment with this book is its lack of emphasis on how an intercultural marriage spotlights the gospel. Of course, every marriage is intended to image the gospel. But intercultural couples, who sometimes feel disadvantaged, have an opportunity to shine light on the gospel in a unique way by bringing nation, tribe, and tongue together in one lifelong union.