Book Review: The Hammer Of God (Giertz)

Hammer of God by Bo Giertz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bo Giertz’s book, “The Hammer of God,” covers the theological drama that unfolds in a small Swedish parish of Odesjo over 150 years. Each generation struggles with its expression of piety along with struggles with legalism, liberalism, and so forth. Even though each of the stories is separated by time and space, there is continuity to the whole book because of its location and the centrality of the Gospel as a solution to each time period’s struggle.

More specifically, James Nestingen comments on this book saying, “In this classic, Bo Giertz marks the difference between self-absorbed religiosity and healthy piety to center faith where it belongs—in Christ. If there is such a thing as a true Lutheran spirituality, Bo Giertz has illustrated the possibility compellingly.”

What is so appealing about Bo Giertz’s book is that it contains rich theology that is rooted in Law and Gospel, Monergism and the Grace of God. The book does not read like an aggressive dogmatic book but fleshes this fine theology out through the interaction of the characters. One cannot help cringe when reading about Pastor Savonius as well as many of the other characters with their obvious abuse of the Word in ministering to others. Even those that are not theologically trained will be able to identify the characters that are self-absorbed versus the characters that are centered in the Gospel. Furthermore, the reader is also privileged to the thoughts of many of the characters. By obtaining an insider perspective, the reader not only connects with the character but the reader is also able to see the righteous and sinful motives of many of the characters.

While this book is certainly a fiction book, it is true in the sense that it captures the heart motivations and the ethos of a man-centered theology interacting with the Gospel. I do not believe that the book exaggerates any of its stories and/or claims but frames the stories in common everyday life situations.

Overall, I appreciated this book tremendously. I read it 11 years ago and found my recent reading of this book refreshing, enlightening, humbling, and edifying.

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Bror Erickson said…
'If you have enjoyed this book, then you should pick up a copy of "Then Fell the Lord's Fire" by Bo Giertz, he re
ally speaks to the pastor's soul in that book.