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Hammer of God

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  557 Ratings  ·  78 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
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Augsburg Fortress Publishing (first published January 1st 1973)
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The Lutheran Study Bible by AnonymousThe Book of Concord by Martin LutherSmall Catechism, with Explanation by Martin LutherLaw & Gospel by C.F.W. WaltherOn Being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard O. Forde
Best Lutheran Related Books
8th out of 215 books — 50 voters
Hammer of God by Bo GiertzThe Gift and the Defender by Tyrel BramwellStitched Crosses by Joshua RotheWarrior Monk by Ray KeatingHouse of Living Stones by Katie Schuermann
Lutheran Novels & Novelists
1st out of 111 books — 16 voters

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Community Reviews

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Douglas Wilson
Jun 23, 2016 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 20, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing
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
Glenn Crouch
Feb 03, 2014 Glenn Crouch rated it it was amazing
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
Jim B
Oct 03, 2015 Jim B rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Oct 14, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
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
Mar 18, 2015 Mark rated it it was amazing
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
Stephen London
Mar 21, 2016 Stephen London rated it it was amazing
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.
Mitch Nichols
Feb 07, 2016 Mitch Nichols rated it really liked it
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
Jun 14, 2016 Fredösphere rated it liked it
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
Andrew Votipka
Aug 17, 2016 Andrew Votipka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was very Lutheran....

More nuanced than your average book of "fiction apologetics," but at times the story was cringe worthy. The writing style was always enjoyable (meaning there weren't clunky sentences), but the plot was struggling along. Every one of the three scenes consisted of a bad person, a person who thought they were good but really aren't (insert Lutheran theology here), and a guy who has been around the block enough to know better than the other two (usually an older pastor who is
R. Brett
Jan 12, 2016 R. Brett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is for everyone....

I'll state it up front...I'm a Lutheran.
And although Giertz is a well known Lutheran author, this book is for everyone.
Inside Giertz explains the gift of Christ in a very much down-to-earth fashion.
If you are one who feels intimidated, confused, "put-off" by what we Christians so strongly believe in but yet want something so positive and powerful in your this one.
And I'm no do-goodie. I have been the worlds biggest sinner. But I am working on be
May 10, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Written by a celebrated Swedish bishop, this book consists of three novellas that centre on the life of Christian ministers in Sweden a century or more ago. Its a unique book: deeply theological, and more specifically, deeply Lutheran, in its themes of law and gospel. A pleasure to read, they draw out tensions between staid established church leaders and upstart revival preachers, and draw to light the legalisms and naivete of the latter. In a few instances, the characters wrestle with their ass ...more
Sep 20, 2015 Mels rated it really liked it
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
May 15, 2013 Rich rated it it was amazing
Good stories with appropriate law and gospel. Rare combination
Dec 24, 2014 K B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read overall.
Jun 04, 2016 Shawn rated it liked it

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
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
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
Dec 12, 2011 Kimberly rated it really liked it
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
Jun 08, 2013 Ryan rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 29, 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
Sep 15, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 14, 2011 John rated it really liked it
Recommended to John by: Justin Taylor
Shelves: 2011
This is a collection of three novellas, all taking place in the same Swedish town in three different centuries. Each novella follows a young pastor as he begins to minister in the community, and all three show how the inexperienced pastor goes through a conversion.

The strongest aspects of the book are the christian wisdom displayed--always through an older person in the story--often an older pastor, but sometimes an older woman with a deep, seasoned faith. Perhaps my favorite scene in the whole
Sylvan Finger
Jul 17, 2014 Sylvan Finger rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school, pre-seminary
This was an amazing book. It have a few stories of how a pastor was called to serve at a church and yet was lacking in his understanding of the gospel. The rich, emotional and dramatic narratives made the text come alive. Many examples here give light to what a pastor should not do and the effects of what happens when a pastor does do them. The scary part is that these stories were true in the 200 years ago.
Jan 24, 2011 Heather rated it it was amazing
Here is a lively yet gentle exposition of the Lutheran theology of Law and Gospel--lively because conversations and stories jump off the page and cut into the reader's own heart, and gentle because it is all garbed in the soft folds of fiction. The characters are earthy, real people who are led by forces beyond their control to realize their own helplessness. The three sections are superficially related by their location, but are deeply related by their similar themes. As one is enrapt further a ...more
Feb 26, 2016 Glenn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Pastor's Life: Told with Honesty, Passion, and Conviction

The Hammer of God is a novel that follows the lives of three pastors serving in the same parish over a hundred year period. Jesus is the center of the story and his grace is the main actor. Three men at different places spiritually, but all three find a sweetness in Jesus in the midst of their pastoral challenges. Leland Ryken said that Hammer of God was the best novel no one knows about and I could not agree more. Look into Jesus shou
Oct 01, 2012 Pinkie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
I haven't read much 'christian-fiction' but I was intrigued by this storyline, and immediately drawn in. It is worth of more than the genre suggests. I put it down at the end with a great compassion for pastors and their calling. It is no small thing to be given the title of 'teacher of the scriptures', and faithfulness is always at stake! Congregants hold powerful sway as do the 'times'. In reality the threat to the Gospel is always 'self', and this book highlights the reoccurring struggle betw ...more
Jeffery Williams
Feb 14, 2014 Jeffery Williams rated it it was amazing
This book has what all Christian novels should, a strong focus on the Cross of Jesus and the result of that work.
The first part had me quite frustrated with the protagonist, who was having great worldly success, but could not see the harm he was doing. The character eventually grows, but the growth feels artificial and much too quick.
The second and third parts have a similar arc, but the growth in more believable. Reading them became much easier, having experienced it once.
The third part is by
Jan 07, 2012 Lynnette rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book although at times the translation (from Swedish) left me in the dark. Three different pastors, in three different time periods struggled with the concept of grace, salvation, and feeling worthy to be a pastor.

The names, culture, and geography was a challenge to my understanding. However, it was interesting to see how we all struggle with our sins, understanding the Word of God, and the difficulty between salvation by grace alone, and salvation through works.

Three dif
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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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