Concerning Life as It Is Supposed to Be

Metaxas vs. Me: A Reprise

I give up.

From all that I can gather, Eric Metaxas is a nice guy, a smart guy, a funny guy, and generally, a good writer.

But I also am gathering that my wife and I are the ONLY people on planet Earth and, for all we know, in the galaxy not to fall head over heels over his biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I went public with my issues with the work just over a year ago: Bonhoeffer vs. Metaxas. Since then, I’ve yet to find someone who agrees with me.

A recent dinner guest when the subject turned to books mentioned being deeply impressed with the book. He was unaware of my take. A good and wise and discerning friend in Bradenton recently told me that he loved the book. He WAS aware of my view. Ouch.

But that’s not all.

The religious news service recently ran an article about Eric Metaxas being something of the ‘new’ Charles Colson. I’m not sure what a new Charles Colson is, but the article mentioned George W. Bush having read the bio and implied that Barack Obama would do the same.

The NY Times then recently asked National Institutes of Health director and human genome decoder and all around really smart guy Francis Collins about the best books he’s ever read. Of all the books in all the world, he has to mention this one:

I was deeply moved by Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and loved “Einstein: His Life and Universe,” by Walter Isaacson.

Sigh. The irony is that I read the Einstein biography immediately after the Bonhoeffer, and it was so much superior in my mind that the only way to compare them was by contrast. But how do I take issue with presidents and preeminent geneticists?

My opinion has not changed. A biography should tell a story well. Bonhoeffer’s story is great, but this is not a good telling of it. I continue to believe that readers are so drawn to Bonhoeffer that they fail to see the faults of the book itself. So, I guess I haven’t given up after all. I’m just losing.


One Foot on a Banana Peel and the Other in the (Empty!) Grave


Life Goes On; Blogging Struggles to Keep Up


  1. Kedric

    A list of punishments:

    You will have to read Metaxas’ book on Wilberforce,
    while drinking decaf coffee at a Waffle House,
    with a cat constantly rubbing against your leg,
    and being served Jeremiah’s Italian Ice.

  2. Okay, here’s someone who partially agrees with you; but maybe that’s b/c not only did I read your original review but you personally shared some additional thoughts with me.
    I did find that it was repetitious and found myself wondering, “Why is he writing this again; he already stated this at least once before.”
    Both my husband and I were impressed with the character of Bonhoeffer; his deep dedication to the gospel and the church, his thoughtful and giving nature and other fine qualities. Of course that has nothing to do with Metaxas’ writing.
    As for punishment, I can’t think of anything suitable.

    • Your husband was the one who said he loved the book (paragraph #5)! And you guys KNOW that you are not allowed to disagree with me… 😉

  3. I am mid stream in the book, and while I am favorably impressed with Metaxis from his National Prayer Breakfast speech– likely the source of the Bush/Obama allusions– I must confess that almost half way through the book, I am not in love with his writing. But I am moved and intrigued with Bonhoeffer. I am constantly amazed at how few people know his story, and perhaps it is the power of that story that people are reacting to more than the writing itself.

    • When you finish, go immediately to read Unbroken, which is on your list, and then imagine what Laura Hillenbrand would have been able to do with this story.

  4. child4

    1) I second your recommendation on Unbroken.
    2) I thought it was a different friend from this area who LOVED the Bonhoeffer book.
    3) Agree with Chris that it’s surprising (and I think sad) so many are not familiar with the Bonhoeffer story.

  5. If I intentionally never bothered to read the book, does that put me on your side?

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