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The Hammer Of God

4.39  ·  Rating Details ·  644 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
In this bestselling novel, three pastors learn the necessity of relying on God's grace. They fall short of their pastoral duties through public humiliation, self-doubt, inability to accept God's promises in their own lives, and divisions and quarreling among their parishioners. Ultimately each man rejects temptations and permits the Holy Spirit to work through him. This re ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 1973)
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Douglas Wilson
Jun 23, 2016 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, theology
This book is a collection of three loosely related novellas about the "cure of souls" in Lutheran Sweden. It is all very good, and parts of it are glorious. I think it would be particularly encouraging to pastors involved in the hard slog of pastoral care.
Feb 14, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Another one I had a hard time getting into at first and had to set a time to just do it. This is now one of my top books of ALL TIME. It's several stories of pastors going through the motions of serving their churches and how they related to the culture and people, etc. Different time periods, but same town. I don't often re-read a book, but I think this will be one I will probably read annually.

1 of 4 on my best of 2013 books I read. The others are reviewed as well:

The Invisible Wall: A Love St
May 29, 2017 Devin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, christian
An incredible journey in young pastors' lives to truly experience the difference between empty, pious religiosity and a true saving faith.

Written by a Swedish Lutheran about fictional Swedish Lutherans, there are some theological points that I might disagree with. However, the overall theme of grace, humility, and repentance seen in three very unique circumstances is a timeless message that I hope many will have the opportunity to enjoy.
Mar 28, 2017 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith-related
Five stars for the theology; this book is really on point with solid doctrine and the pitfalls of error. Two stars for the fiction. I found it boring and repetitive, though some of that may be translation.
I've had this book on my physical shelf for a long time. Possibly two years, I'm not sure. I was putting off reading it because I knew it was a "Lutheran" book and I was a little wary of how Lutheran it might be. I wasn't interested in something that was like reading the catechism or the Book of Concord.

Thankfully, it wasn't like that at all! In reality, the book doesn't talk much of Lutheranism, it simply "preaches" Jesus only; grace, redemption, and salvation through Christ alone. Yes, this is
Jim B
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 28, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erin by: Pastor Hill
My husband's been telling me for years I needed to read this book, as has Pastor Hill. For whatever reason, this last time Pastor told me I should read it, I decided to finally go ahead and do it. And I'm glad I did. At times, the writing got a little flowery and overdone for my tastes, but the stories themselves were really interesting. With the parishoners (and Pastors) who found themselves in error on doctrine, it was interesting to see that I could identify so many other denominations in the ...more
Glenn Crouch
Feb 03, 2014 Glenn Crouch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Whilst it took me a little while to get into and to "adjust" to the Scandinavian background (of which I must admit I have very limited knowledge), I thoroughly enjoyed this book and do highly recommend it to fellow Pastors.

Admittedly (and naturally) it has a strong Lutheran emphasis - but as a Lutheran Pastor, I did enjoy that :)

It was inspiring, thought-provoking, challenging and so much more. I found it very easy to relate to the various characters even given the cultural and time period diffe
Stephen London
Aug 04, 2014 Stephen London rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was quite moved by this book. It is really three short stories, each about a pastor who fails and has to fall back on the grace of Jesus Christ to really learn what ministry is really about. That is a very familiar story for me. I had not heard of the author before; he was a bishop in the Church of Sweden. He was a man who knew the power of grace and knew how to tell others about it.
Matthew Mitchell
"God is mightier than all the evil in the world." - Britta Torvik, a character in this powerful spiritual novel.

So glad I read it this month.

I was turned onto "The Hammer of God" by this post:
May 15, 2013 Rich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good stories with appropriate law and gospel. Rare combination
Dec 22, 2014 K B rated it really liked it
Good read overall.
Mar 28, 2016 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

In this well-written novel, Bo Giertz deploys a myriad of characters to examine many of the religious doctrines that have historically created dissension in the Christian church. The cool thing about this novel is that Giertz uses his characters to unveil the absurdities of both sides of extremist positions. Much like in James Herriot’s, All Things Bright and Beautiful, the reader will find themselves laughing out loud at the comical idiosyncrasies of Giertz’s characters; while simul
Kurt Brubaker
Jul 03, 2017 Kurt Brubaker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful story about the transformation of three young ministers who serve the same church of over a 100 year period. It speaks to the grace of God as he uses churches & ministries to conform pastors into the image of Christ. This book is well worth the time & effort to read.
Susanna Grant
May 12, 2017 Susanna Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
hands down the best and most unusual religious book i've read--plan to read more stuff by Mr. Bo
Oct 19, 2016 Dominick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Practical applications of the Law/Gospel distinctions in a well-written fictional story that spans three generations.
Patricia Wolverton

Interest in view of the other side of being a minister in the Swedish Lutheran perspective. A view on pastoral soul searching as well.
Christine Keegan
A surprising find. I thought these were well-written stories powerful at communicating theological truth. I enjoyed reading these.
Feb 26, 2017 Aino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could write about this book for pages and pages so I'll try to keep it short and sweet.

This book moved something in me. It challenged me to take a good look at my own life and my own faith. It underlined the absolute importance and desperate need of grace in our lives every single day. This is a book of honest humanity, in all of its stubbornness and the need to try to be good enough for God. And it is a book about understanding we'll never be good enough. But that's okay. Because Jesus is eno
I listened to an interview by Eugene Peterson a couple of years ago where he talked about how important it was for pastors to steep themselves in good Christian literature, and to guard themselves against the current culture. Two of the books he named where Gilead and Diary of a Country Priest, both of which I read and loved. But hearing his talk also created a desire in me to find more good Christian literature.

I heard about the Hammer of God about a year or so ago from Leland Ryken, in his bo
Mar 02, 2017 Charles rated it it was ok
Fantastic theology wrapped in overwritten, Victorian, hurl-inducing crap.
John Hoh
Nov 07, 2011 John Hoh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How does a young graduate from the seminary deal with people and their lives? Especially if the young pastor has been taught Rationalism or Pietism? Is 'orthodoxy' dead, or just a simple tool through which the Holy Spirit creates and strengthens faith?

Working with a cross-cultural ministry in Milwaukee, a ministry that not only transcends races and socio-economic status, but also lifestyles as we deal with people suffering from addiction, this novel has certainly helped to keep my focus on what
Oct 26, 2011 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this novel (or, to be more precise, this collection of three related novellas), I had heard Giertz described as the Lutheran C. S. Lewis. I've heard a number of people state that this work was life-changing for them, and I know it's a popular choice among young pastors. So, I came to this novel with very high expectations. I enjoyed the novel very much, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about Lutheran doctrine, but I can't say that it was life-changing for ...more
Aug 09, 2015 Mels rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Each of the three segments follows different pastors. The first story captured me the most, bringing the reader through a man's transformation from self-righteous comfort, to Christ-like living.

It is very clear this book is written by a man, for men (pastors), due to the nearly-flat illustrations of the women. Each of the women were tidy. In the last segment (of three), there was one lady who was always apologetic for having "spoken too much." (This is in all liklihood due to the bit in Timothy
Jan 09, 2014 Jacqui rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
Written in the context of the 19th century this novel chronicles the issues plaguing the main characters [pastors] in the Swedish Lutheran church. A caveat: if you don't know anything about Lutherans I suggest you read a little about them on wikipeadia as the setting is within that church body and they tend to run church a little different to many church bodies. If you have a Roman Catholic or traditional Anglican background you will be OK.

I was worried about reading this book because not many
It's good, once in a while, to read a book that you would never chose according to your usual algorithms. I picked this book as part of research for a short story I'm writing about Lutheran life in small-town Sweden from a century ago. I learned about a few new things, notably about the highly efficient, low-maintenance ceramic stoves that most Swedes use instead of fireplaces or Franklin stoves.

Bo Giertz was a pastor and theologian, and this novel, consisting of three loosely-linked novellas, i
I'd been wanting to get my hands on this book for a couple of years and finally borrowed it from the local Lutheran seminary. It's a collection of three novellas, set respectively in the early 1800s, late 1800s, and early WWII, about young pastors coming to grips with the power of the gospel, often out of various kinds of revivalist and rationalist formation in seminary. It wasn't so much the stories or characterization that I found compelling, though the settings in various periods of Scandinav ...more
Mar 18, 2015 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How can I describe this book? Written by a Lutheran pastor decades ago, following church life in an unfamiliar culture, you would think this book would have little benefit for a modern evangelical. Nothing could be further from the truth! The first time I read through this book I benefited from the pastoral dialog between the pastor and his parishioners. It was great to see a pastor point people to Christ. Yet, I can say that not having an understanding of Lutheran theology really left many part ...more
Mitch Nichols
Jan 28, 2016 Mitch Nichols rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Swedish author has been compared to apologists C.S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and although it was written in 1941 it still is relevant to the 21st Century reader. The book focuses on many issues that face the modern church including revivalism, zealous pietism, legalism, dead orthodoxy, liberalism and moral relativism and how they can subtly and easily creep into the church body to supplant the Gospel. It is written as a trilogy of short novellas following the lives of three pastors and ...more
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“One ought not talk about oneself, it may hide Jesus from view.” 4 likes
“No, what was the good in this! Torvik turned over in bed and folded his hands. After all, they could not shoot God. Temples had been desecrated in times past in Christendom, but the Church remains. The gates of hell would never overcome her. In the final account, all this was only a drop in the cup of suffering that mankind through the millennia again and again had prepared for itself through its disobedience. Was it reasonable to think that our generation, which maybe had been more disobedient than any preceding one, would be spared from it? And had not Christ himself fully drunk the cup to show that the way did not go above a cruel reality but straight through its blood and anguish?” 0 likes
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