Hammer of God
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Hammer of God

4.42 of 5 stars 4.42  ·  rating details  ·  260 ratings  ·  48 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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Luther's Small Catechism, with Explanation by Martin LutherThe Book of Concord by Martin LutherThe Lutheran Study Bible by AnonymousThe Spirituality of the Cross by Gene Edward Veith Jr.Law and Gospel by C.F.W. Walther
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Community Reviews

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Glenn Crouch
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...more
Oct 14, 2011 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Jim B
In three eras, a pastor is trying to revive the spiritual lives of his people -- to some degree with success, always relying on pietistic use of the law, always discovering freedom and peace in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In each story, there is a different facet. For example, the last section turns on the authority of Scripture.

Insight into Lutheranism in a situation where the Lutheran Church is the state church. In all three eras, there was a mission society and that was where the "revivals" g...more
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
Good stories with appropriate law and gospel. Rare combination
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 L
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...more
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...more
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
Tamara Blickhan
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...more
Ryan Adair
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...more
Sep 15, 2010 Linda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 14, 2011 John rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
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
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
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...more
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...more
Scott Gercken
Apr 23, 2014 Scott Gercken added it
Shelves: theology
This is not a book easily appreciated to the full on only one read.
Ted Mallory
For years people have urged me to read this. It seems to be something that is virtually prerequisite for becoming a Lutheran pastor.

I have to say, it is not inspiring me to drop everything and go to seminary, nor is it somehow confirming for me God's divine Call. It is confirming for me that pastors are human beings and reminding me of all of the challenges, struggles and blessings they face. It sure takes a special kind of person to take on that vocation. God bless them and guide them! And may...more
A great trilogy of stories about Lutheran ministers wrestling with the concept of being saved by grace alone. The wrestle with sin, outward appearances (works), and even church sacraments and what these things might mean in understanding out standing before God. It comes down to salvation being a work of God so that salvations is by grace. A great read for anyone who struggles with guilt or understanding the gospel message and the power of God's saving grace over sin.
Wow! This novel covers a lot. It presents very authentic human relationships and struggles. The main characters struggle with their understanding of the Gospel and what that means in living out their faith, struggles with pride, piety, forgiveness, and the Church. Ultimately, it is a book that reaffirms for me the need to rely only on the grace of God through Christ. I recommend this book to anyone interested in theology or involved in ministry.
For those interested in the trials of Pastoral ministry and the life of all Christians, the Hammer of God is a wonderful read. It is a good narrative and collection of chained stories, but also provides a glimpse at faithful Christian life while exposing rock solid confessional Lutheran theology in light of the "modern" ideas of the stories' time periods (many of these false ideas still exist today). I suggest to any Christian/Lutheran, Pastors, etc.
May 29, 2008 Adam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Protestants seeking that rare thing--quality religious fiction
It's a small mystery why this book isn't better known--its fans are few but vocal. Masterfully employing a 3-tiered story (each tier having its own plot & characters), Bo Giertz creates an exceptional depth & resonance in this portrait of Sweden's rich Protestant heritage. The novel's central question is this: will a credible religion always change society & individual lives, or can the reverse ever occur?
Jeg har lest denne på norsk (Steingrunnen). Det er absolutt en av de bøkene som har formet meg mest. Den er på samme tid en sjelesorgbok som en utviklings- og historisk roman. Den gir et godt innblikk i vekkelses- og kirkelivet i Sverige i forrige århundre, samtidig som den beskriver det åndelige livet på en måte som er veldig gjenkjennelig, til og med i dag.
Our bookclub read and discussed this. Great fiction story, in three sections, about Christian pastors who face some real issues in their communities. Kinda old-fashioned in its wording at times, and a bit cliched here and there, thus four stars. But highly recommended. Everyone in the book club liked it, which surprised us all (it doesn't happen often!).
Jennie Geiman
I read this book at my dad's insistence... He even bought me the fancy special edition. I really like it. They spoke of some very relevant faith issues even though it was written many years ago. Some of the names are different since the setting is Norway, I believe. I recommend it for both Lutherans and non-Lutherans.
I loved this book!!!! The transparency of the Christian life is refreshing to read!!! All 3 stories were enjoyable and much to be learned from their experiences! A reminder of the life we live in faith as a poor miserable sinner and the grace that has been given to us by Christ.
This was not the easiest book to read. It took me a long time to get into it, and if I was rating it based on that alone, I would rate it lower. However, the stories of the pastors as they discovered the Gospel was uplifting. This book is not a light read, but worth the endeavor.
Lisa4piano Brown
Awesome book. Every "good Lutheran" should read ;) It confirms how by Grace we are saved and not by works as even the pastors in this book learn. It's written about Sweden in the 19 and 20th century, and the pastors of a church through the times. A very good, theological read.
A touching and gentle book about the struggles of three Swedish Lutheran pastors.

It can seem like comedy when one of them is tormenting himself over taking an extra cup of coffee after dinner, but the way they relate to their parishioners is always interesting and moving.
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