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Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works Vol. 4)

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"Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace." And with that sharp warning to his own church, which was engaged in bitter conflict with the official nazified state church, Dietrich Bonhoeffer began his book Discipleship (formerly entitled The Cost of Discipleship). Originally published in 1937, it soon became a classic exposition o "Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace." And with that sharp warning to his own church, which was engaged in bitter conflict with the official nazified state church, Dietrich Bonhoeffer began his book Discipleship (formerly entitled The Cost of Discipleship). Originally published in 1937, it soon became a classic exposition of what it means to follow Christ in a modern world beset by a dangerous and criminal government. At its center stands an interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount: what Jesus demanded of his followers-and how the life of discipleship is to be continued in all ages of the post- resurrection church. "Every call of Jesus is a call to death," Bonhoeffer wrote. His own life ended in martyrdom on April 9, 1945. Freshly translated from the German critical edition, Discipleship provides a more accurate rendering of the text and extensive aids and commentary to clarify the meaning, context, and reception of this work and its attempt to resist the Nazi ideology then infecting German Christian churches.


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"Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace." And with that sharp warning to his own church, which was engaged in bitter conflict with the official nazified state church, Dietrich Bonhoeffer began his book Discipleship (formerly entitled The Cost of Discipleship). Originally published in 1937, it soon became a classic exposition o "Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace." And with that sharp warning to his own church, which was engaged in bitter conflict with the official nazified state church, Dietrich Bonhoeffer began his book Discipleship (formerly entitled The Cost of Discipleship). Originally published in 1937, it soon became a classic exposition of what it means to follow Christ in a modern world beset by a dangerous and criminal government. At its center stands an interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount: what Jesus demanded of his followers-and how the life of discipleship is to be continued in all ages of the post- resurrection church. "Every call of Jesus is a call to death," Bonhoeffer wrote. His own life ended in martyrdom on April 9, 1945. Freshly translated from the German critical edition, Discipleship provides a more accurate rendering of the text and extensive aids and commentary to clarify the meaning, context, and reception of this work and its attempt to resist the Nazi ideology then infecting German Christian churches.

30 review for Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works Vol. 4)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dwight Davis

    I went into Discipleship thinking that I would really hate it. I love the early academic theology of Bonhoeffer, and I'm really interested in Bonhoeffer studies, but I figured that a book couldn't be that interesting and ground breaking if so many fundamentalists love it. I was so wrong. Bonhoeffer puts forth a lot of very radical ideas here. The idea of the Church being the physical manifestation of Christ, and therefore vicariously representing Christ on earth is brilliant. Bonhoeffer completel I went into Discipleship thinking that I would really hate it. I love the early academic theology of Bonhoeffer, and I'm really interested in Bonhoeffer studies, but I figured that a book couldn't be that interesting and ground breaking if so many fundamentalists love it. I was so wrong. Bonhoeffer puts forth a lot of very radical ideas here. The idea of the Church being the physical manifestation of Christ, and therefore vicariously representing Christ on earth is brilliant. Bonhoeffer completely redefines ontology and personhood. Bonhoeffer argues, "The new human being is not the single individual who has been justified and sanctified; rather, the new human being is the church-community, the body of Christ, or Christ himself." The implications of this train of thought on philosophy, theology, ontology, ethics, race issues, ecclesiology, etc. are staggering. And yet Evangelicals skip over these ideas and only talk about Bonhoeffer's concept of cheap and costly grace. While that is a great meditation on the role of grace in our lives, there's so much more to this book. Having a knowledge of Bonhoeffer's life, particularly his role in the conspiracy against Hitler, his context in Nazi Germany, and his disgust with the holocaust, is essential to fully understanding this work. According to the German editors of this volume, this work is entirely bound up in Bonhoeffer's life, inseparably so. This critical edition is essential reading. The editors do a great job of providing contextual footnotes to help the reader understand many of the concepts presented here and how they are being built on the foundation of his early academic theology. The foreword and afterword are incredibly helpful as well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Ferguson

    Where does one begin? This is a book that will profoundly change your understanding about what it means to be a person of faith in the world. Bonhoeffer challenges us to look beyond the values of this world, and asks us are we willing to embrace the true cost of discipleship? His analysis of cheap grace, and its corrupting influence reminds us that there are times that we have to challenge the powers of this world, that there are times when to be a good Christian means we can't always be a good c Where does one begin? This is a book that will profoundly change your understanding about what it means to be a person of faith in the world. Bonhoeffer challenges us to look beyond the values of this world, and asks us are we willing to embrace the true cost of discipleship? His analysis of cheap grace, and its corrupting influence reminds us that there are times that we have to challenge the powers of this world, that there are times when to be a good Christian means we can't always be a good citizen. Bonhoeffer wrote in the shadow of evil, made even worse by the reality that many so-called Christians were only too willing to serve Adolf Hitler and his evil regime. Bonhoeffer makes it clear to the reader that cheap grace is at the heart of such fatal compromises of faith, that allow evil to flourish. It is through understanding costly grace, that we can embrace discipleship that will allow us to witness to this world in such a way that we are freed from the powers of this world. Bonhoeffer's words are just as important today, as they were in the dark days of the Nazis, and will always challenge us in our faith.

  3. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    Listened to the audio version of this book and found it very compelling. It challenged me in ways I didn't know I needed challenging, which is why it earns 5 stars from me. As a lifelong cultural Catholic and for the last twenty years (or so) actively striving-to-be-Christlike Catholic, I need books which help me to look at my faith from a fresh perspective. Bonhoeffer's eclectic approach to the Gospels reminds me very much of his German compatriot and one of my other favorite authors, Pope Bened Listened to the audio version of this book and found it very compelling. It challenged me in ways I didn't know I needed challenging, which is why it earns 5 stars from me. As a lifelong cultural Catholic and for the last twenty years (or so) actively striving-to-be-Christlike Catholic, I need books which help me to look at my faith from a fresh perspective. Bonhoeffer's eclectic approach to the Gospels reminds me very much of his German compatriot and one of my other favorite authors, Pope Benedict XVI. The fact that they are both devout German Christians couldn't have anything to do with that ... could it? Especially insightful in this text are Bonhoeffer's contrast between cheap and costly Grace; his exegesis on the encounters between Jesus and the Rich Young Man and others; and his challenges to our understanding of our own discipleship. Highly recommended, especially in the audio format! I was reluctant to do anything else once I started listening.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I have spent most of my life attending what are generally called the mainline Protestant denominations in the US. I grew up in the United Methodist Church and I'm now a PCUSA Presbyterian. I have heard this book quoted or referenced In sermons and bible studies more times than I can count. But I had never actually read it myself so I decided to as part of a Lenten discipline of reading only books on religion during Lent. Having now finished, I am surprised at its popularity among liberal Christi I have spent most of my life attending what are generally called the mainline Protestant denominations in the US. I grew up in the United Methodist Church and I'm now a PCUSA Presbyterian. I have heard this book quoted or referenced In sermons and bible studies more times than I can count. But I had never actually read it myself so I decided to as part of a Lenten discipline of reading only books on religion during Lent. Having now finished, I am surprised at its popularity among liberal Christians. Don't get me wrong, I liked a lot it but the message of this book is that the gospel is true, that it is urgent that it be proclaimed, and that all men need to repent and follow it. This is so very different from the Stuart Smalley like "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me" school of preaching that I hear more Sundays than not. Here's a couple of sentences from Bonhoeffer: "Nothing could be more ruthless than to make men think there is still plenty of time to mend their ways. To tell men that their cause is urgent and that the kingdom of God is at hand is the most charitable and merciful act we can perform, the most joyous news we can bring." Now maybe your PCUSA or United Methodist (or Episcopal Church or ELCA Lutheran) church is different from mine, but that's not the message I'm hearing every Sunday. (How I wish I did.) So why is Bonhoeffer quoted so often? I think it is mainly that his heroic life and martyrdom while struggling against the Nazis has made his biography more prominent than his theology. And the phrase cheap grace makes a nice sound bite for those who've never really taken the time to read what Bonhoeffer meant by it. And that's a shame because there is much here that we in 21st century America need to hear. Anyway, I have the book 4 stars. On message and theology, I'd give it 5 but it is pretty thick and not easily readable in parts. How much of that is due to translation issues from the original German and how much is due to it being just a very academic writing styleI don't know. I had the same issue when I read Pope Benedict's book on the life of Christ. Perhaps I just have a problem reading German theologians. I would also note that this probably isn't the best book for a non-Christian or someone who has been away from church a while. It presupposes a pretty good grasp on the bible and basic concepts of theology. CS Lewis' Mere Christianity would be a better introductory kind of book. But if you're looking for a meaty, substantive theological treatise, this is a good one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    This book will mess you up, and you will be better for it - at least it should. Bonhoeffer combats what he coins "cheap grace" (i.e., grace with no demand, no cost, no cross). He demonstrates that the life of discipleship is the life of crucifixion. But this is not from some pussified metrosexual pastor, wearing his tight button-down, throwing around terms like "imitatio christi." No, this is from a man who did it, who faithfully followed and bore witness to Christ until the end when he was hung This book will mess you up, and you will be better for it - at least it should. Bonhoeffer combats what he coins "cheap grace" (i.e., grace with no demand, no cost, no cross). He demonstrates that the life of discipleship is the life of crucifixion. But this is not from some pussified metrosexual pastor, wearing his tight button-down, throwing around terms like "imitatio christi." No, this is from a man who did it, who faithfully followed and bore witness to Christ until the end when he was hung naked with thin wire. .... I just read this quote from the camp doctor who witnessed his death: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer ... kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Geaney

    Whew! My brain is mush. It has been really helpful for me to read this book alongside my friend and mentor. We have gotten together over the past three weeks (and once more this Friday) to discuss what we've read and how our lives as disciples differ from Bonhoeffer's definition of a disciple. *** UPDATE 9/14/18: I came across this article which helped me better understand Bonhoeffer's theology. We need to be discerning readers. A Reliable Guide? https://banneroftruth.org/us/resource...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    Wow. I’m so glad I finally “read” (listened) to this compelling book. Now I need to read my old print copy with pen- in- hand to mark up all the gems that inspired and challenged me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    I'm not going to attempt to "review" such a classic work. Rather, I thought I would comment on what I thought were some striking themes in Bonhoeffer's work. One thing is the theme of unqualified obedience to Christ. One of Bonhoeffer's chapters is "The Call of Discipleship" and I think that may have been an even more appropriate title for the book. The call is both a gracious call, one we need but don't deserve, and a call to implicit, unqualified obedience in following Christ, as in the case of I'm not going to attempt to "review" such a classic work. Rather, I thought I would comment on what I thought were some striking themes in Bonhoeffer's work. One thing is the theme of unqualified obedience to Christ. One of Bonhoeffer's chapters is "The Call of Discipleship" and I think that may have been an even more appropriate title for the book. The call is both a gracious call, one we need but don't deserve, and a call to implicit, unqualified obedience in following Christ, as in the case of the rich young man. In various ways, we want to follow "Jesus and". For Bonhoeffer, it is Jesus alone. His chapter on "the enemy" was interesting in light of his eventual participation in an assassination plot against Hitler. The book discussion group I was in all struggled with reconciling what he wrote about unreserved love for the enemy with his actions against Hitler. From reading Metaxas' biography on Bonhoeffer, it may be the case that he didn't reconcile these but simply saw this as a tragic necessity for which he was prepared to accept judgment not only by men but God. Finally, one of the striking themes of this book is the idea that discipleship is inescapably lived out in the visible community of the church. In fact, he cannot think of sanctification in purely personal terms but only in the context of the church. Whereas we may tend to think of the church as instrumental in our growth in holiness, Bonhoeffer would see the bride of Christ being prepared for her wedding day, that bride being the church. As you can see from the edition, this one has been on the shelves a long time. I read about 100 pages in college and then set it aside. Perhaps that was enough challenge for a young disciple. Thanks to the Dead Theologians Society reading group for helping me read the whole!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dean

    Indeed a great book!!! Bonhoffers work is dripping and saturated with the spirit of a martyr, which hasn't loss a bit from his freshness and his relevance to the present.... The deep love to his Lord, and his genuine esteem for God's word, are without doubt the items that stand out visible trough the entire book. Bonhoeffer explain the difference between what he calls the cheap grace versus the costly grace. Particularly trough the light by the chapter about single-minded obedience I've been exposed Indeed a great book!!! Bonhoffers work is dripping and saturated with the spirit of a martyr, which hasn't loss a bit from his freshness and his relevance to the present.... The deep love to his Lord, and his genuine esteem for God's word, are without doubt the items that stand out visible trough the entire book. Bonhoeffer explain the difference between what he calls the cheap grace versus the costly grace. Particularly trough the light by the chapter about single-minded obedience I've been exposed as a Christian. A memoir by G. Leibholz about Bonhoffers background and life with his dead as a martyr trough the Nazis at Flossenbürg round off this remarkable work. Since then, Bonhoeffers name has been tightly link together with the cost of discipleship!!! Chapters like the body of Christ and the visible community, at least for me, are especially precious... This book isn't a dry theologian paper, but much more this is like an early morning call and even an alarm call for the church today!!! Every Christian should read this work, even for non Christians would I dare to say its a rewarding reading experience. Of course I give with pleasure 5 stars to it!!! A wonderful and fascinating book, written by a charismatic and outstanding personality..... My full recommendation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul Mullen

    Having read Eric Mataxus's brilliant biography of Bonhoeffer... 5 stars... skip this review... go read the biography... I had to read more of what Bonhoeffer wrote. It is tough reading. Good food, but vegetables when my brain occasionally wanted chocolate! The book is divided into 5 sections: 1) Grace and discipleship 2) The Sermon on the Mount 3) The messengers 4) The Church of Jesus Christ and the life of discipleship The book is worth your time if you're interested in deepening in discipleship. Se Having read Eric Mataxus's brilliant biography of Bonhoeffer... 5 stars... skip this review... go read the biography... I had to read more of what Bonhoeffer wrote. It is tough reading. Good food, but vegetables when my brain occasionally wanted chocolate! The book is divided into 5 sections: 1) Grace and discipleship 2) The Sermon on the Mount 3) The messengers 4) The Church of Jesus Christ and the life of discipleship The book is worth your time if you're interested in deepening in discipleship. Section 1 was the most helpful in terms of laying out Bonhoeffer's central argument. He puts grace (freedom in the midst of imperfection) side-by-side with discipleship (pursuit of perfection... at least in the area of devotion and service.) This tension will eventually strike any Christian if s/he is thoughtful and lives long enough. The exposition of the Sermon on the Mount could be a book on its own. Lots more in Matthew 5-7 than I ever saw through my own eyes. The balance of the book is about how to apply all this to living in the ordinary sense of our lives and our associations. This is one that will require several re-readings to fully consume.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

    Bonhoeffer was only a few that understood that National Socialism was godless and in my opionion stripping men of dignity, liberty and freedom. I think this is a good read because the enemy of cheap grace is so rapid in our churches today. Bonhoeffer lived in a time where cheap grace could not be afforded and so do we. The book gives a clear understanding of grace thru discipleship. Bonhoeffer goes on to say that this cheap grace is what we give ourselves instead of being given by God thru Jesus Bonhoeffer was only a few that understood that National Socialism was godless and in my opionion stripping men of dignity, liberty and freedom. I think this is a good read because the enemy of cheap grace is so rapid in our churches today. Bonhoeffer lived in a time where cheap grace could not be afforded and so do we. The book gives a clear understanding of grace thru discipleship. Bonhoeffer goes on to say that this cheap grace is what we give ourselves instead of being given by God thru Jesus Christ crucified. Grace that is given by the Lord thru the blood of Jesus will reveal truth and give us strength. Grace that we will love freely without worry of circumstances or outcome. Discipleship is abiding in Christ and having all fixed on fixed on him. Bonhoeffer gives clear understanding of discipleship and because of his understanding, he was able to stand against the Nazi regime. On the bad side of this read, I thought it to be mechanical. He obviously did not let his emotions rule his heart. This may cause people not to connect to what he is saying, however, I do think when you are in a battle situation, that is the only way to have victory.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Weber

    Ever since reading the remarkable Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas last year, I’ve been eager to read more of Bonhoeffer’s own writings. Discipleship is of particular interest to me, so I decided to start with this book. As was alluded to in the biography, the book deals not primarily with the concept of discipleship in regards to discipling others, but primarily with the individual’s role and responsibilities as a disciple of Christ. I copied down many excerpts from various chapters, but es Ever since reading the remarkable Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas last year, I’ve been eager to read more of Bonhoeffer’s own writings. Discipleship is of particular interest to me, so I decided to start with this book. As was alluded to in the biography, the book deals not primarily with the concept of discipleship in regards to discipling others, but primarily with the individual’s role and responsibilities as a disciple of Christ. I copied down many excerpts from various chapters, but especially appreciated Bonhoeffer’s insights on the Body of Christ, and the Church as a Visible Community. I love this statement that he makes about bearing fruit as a disciple: “Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth. The fruit of the Spirit is always a gift of God, and only he can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of him on whom their life depends. There is no room for boasting here, but only for an ever more intimate union with him.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    This book is chock full of wisdom and deeply profound insights, but it took me almost two months to get through it simply because its readability is quite low. Perhaps this is because of the translation, or because Mr Bonhoeffer wrote in a different era, but whatever the reason, it's a tough read. Compounding the problem of poor readability is the injection of strong opinions about non-essential Christian beliefs. Writers are entitled to their opinions like everyone else, and I'm entitled to dis This book is chock full of wisdom and deeply profound insights, but it took me almost two months to get through it simply because its readability is quite low. Perhaps this is because of the translation, or because Mr Bonhoeffer wrote in a different era, but whatever the reason, it's a tough read. Compounding the problem of poor readability is the injection of strong opinions about non-essential Christian beliefs. Writers are entitled to their opinions like everyone else, and I'm entitled to disagree with them and give them a lower rating because of it. That said, this is a good book with many many pearls of wisdom in it, but for me it was a slog to get through it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Some final thoughts here after reading Cost of Discipleship. I give it 4/5 stars, but I would almost rather knock it down to 3/5. However, I suspect that its worth grows on future re-readings. I hoped for better exposition of Scripture, but I was also very taken with Bonhoeffer's theological courage and often exacting pull-no-punches arguments. For brevity's sake, I'll leave my comments as an itemized list: What about joy and resurrection? Bonhoeffer barely develops this central aspect of the dis Some final thoughts here after reading Cost of Discipleship. I give it 4/5 stars, but I would almost rather knock it down to 3/5. However, I suspect that its worth grows on future re-readings. I hoped for better exposition of Scripture, but I was also very taken with Bonhoeffer's theological courage and often exacting pull-no-punches arguments. For brevity's sake, I'll leave my comments as an itemized list: What about joy and resurrection? Bonhoeffer barely develops this central aspect of the disciple's life. He is overly glum about the whole Christian enterprise, despite his persistent emphasis on finding joy in Christ. If he has found such joy, where in the world is it? Why does it not leap off the page? To be fair, his context was perhaps part of the reason for this. He is reacting to a superficial progressivism, and perhaps he sees himself as a prophet instilling discipline upon would-be disciples of Christ in the face of a German church that seems incapable of divorcing itself from the growing Nazi culture. Still, we need to be wary of this emphasis, because I firmly believe that the present Western world needs to know much more about the joy of Christian life than a reminder of our persistent sinfulness. Furthermore, I think a stronger emphasis on the meaning of Christ's resurrection would balance out Bonhoeffer's treatment of death and sin. We do worship a God who has become incarnate in Jesus and crucified as the Messiah - but even more so, we worship a God who has been victorious over both of those conditions, that is, the frailty and dirtiness of human life and the torture of sin and death. That victory should be emphasized as something much more than a means to our own salvation. It is this, but it is also the dawning of a new world, the springtime after a very long winter, the very foretaste of unimaginable good things. (Thank God for NT Wright and his work in this area.) Literalism. One more important concern or criticism I have of Bonhoeffer's book is that his hermeneutic is at times, well, amateurish. He literally interprets most of the Sermon on the Mount AND THEN a lot more. It is one thing to take Christ's words literally in a sermon that is probably intended to be taken mostly literally anyway. But it is quite another thing to continue in this vein throughout much of his further exploration of the sermon's themes. For example, in his interpretation of Christ's command to preach to Israel, not the Samaritans and Gentiles, he states that this shows that Christian disciples are to be 100% dependent on Christ's will and ideas, not their own. Well okay, I get your point, Dietrich, but I think you are pushing it too far. The passage does not spell this interpretation out, and your interpretation gives very little help to a Christian who might try to assume such determinism. What is to be the medium for such explicit divine instructions? Are we to constantly doubt ideas that seem to come from our own brains and wait for dreams or verbal instructions from God? I don't aim to disparage these avenues of divine communication, because I think they can be valid. However, Bonhoeffer's interpretation leaves us little to work with when it comes to the 99% of life in which God seems much more quiet and even at times silent. The lesson to be learned here is that Bonhoeffer is not the most critical thinker of Biblical texts. We should value his thoughts on culture much more than his reading of the Bible. I'm sure a lot of people might disagree, but given my knowledge of Biblical scholarship, I can't help but see the holes and lack of systematic, interpretive rigor in his writings. The Task of the Church. This is the heart of Bonhoeffer's message, I think, and it is of great value. Once we establish that we are each individually and ultimately responsible before God, we need to take a step forward alongside our fellow disciples. We must embrace each other because it is in fact part of sanctification. He says that "by pursuing sanctification outside the Church, we are trying to pronounce ourselves holy." Such a pronouncement can only come from Christ, and this happens within the Body of Christ. (How mystic is this Body? Does it exist outside the walls of formal Christian communities?) Crucially, Bonhoeffer is writing about this at a time when the German church had grown limp and refused to turn away from the thrall of an idolatrous German nationalism. He is a theologian refocusing the task of the church amidst one of Christianity's most grievous abandonments of righteousness. This lends a credibility that is often missing from today's prevailing theologies of Western comfort. Bonhoeffer, I believe, has the spark of prophetic discernment and speech that can call the church, even now, out of periods of malaise. And while each person is ultimately responsible to God as an individual, we can, as the people of God, turn back to Him together, collectively, as the full body of Christ.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    I wish I could have read this book in its original language - German - because I'm just just a bit of the brilliance is lost in translation. However, the necessary content has remained well intact and it is the content which makes it a book for all seasons, nations, and peoples. In Bonhoeffer's work, he describes the many ways in which the Christian will have to sacrifice himself in order to follow Christ. He deals seriously with topics such as "the Enemy," speaking of the time which is "coming I wish I could have read this book in its original language - German - because I'm just just a bit of the brilliance is lost in translation. However, the necessary content has remained well intact and it is the content which makes it a book for all seasons, nations, and peoples. In Bonhoeffer's work, he describes the many ways in which the Christian will have to sacrifice himself in order to follow Christ. He deals seriously with topics such as "the Enemy," speaking of the time which is "coming when the confession of the living God will incur not only the hatred and the fury of the world, for on the whole it has come to that already, but complete ostracism from 'human society,' as they call it. The Christians will be hounded from place to place, subjected to physical assault, maltreatment and death of every kind. We are approaching an age of widespread persecution. Therein lies the true significance of all the movements and conflicts of our age. Our adversaries seek to root out the Christian Church and the Christian faith because they see in every word we utter and every deed we do, even when they are not specifically directed against them, a condemnation of their own words and deeds" (151). He goes on to say that Christians "must not fear men. Men can do them no harm, for the power of men ceases with the death of the body. But they must overcome the fear of death with the fear of God. The danger lies not in the judgement of men, but in the judgement of God, not in the death of the body but in the eternal destruction of body and soul" (218). Furthermore, Bonhoeffer goes on to encourage the Christian person in the community of believers in chapters on "The Visible Community" and "The Saints," making statements like "Let [the Christian] remain in the world to engage in frontal assault on it, and let him live the life of his secular calling in order to show himself as a stranger in this world all the more. But that is only possible if we are visible members of the Church" (264-265). Bonhoeffer describes how Christians are to live in the world, but not be of the world - having marriages, relationships, practices and behaviors that are transformed by the Holy Spirit and lived out in an effort to become more like Christ (269). His book ends on a triumphant note, speaking of him who "is born of God has ceased from sin, sin has no more dominion over them, they are dead unto sin and live through the Spirit" (286) and talking about God's followers in this way "They wander on earth and live in heave, and although they are weak, they protect the world; they taste of peace in the midst of turmoil; they are poor, and yet they have all they want. They stand in suffering and remain in joy, they appear dead to all outward sense and lead a life of faith within. 'When Christ, their life, shall be manifested, when once he appears in glory, they too will appear in glory with him as princes of the earth. They will reign and triumph with him, and adorn heaven as shining lights. There, joy will be shared by all' (C.F. Richter). That is the Church of the elect, the Ecclesia, those who have been called out, the Body of Christ on earth, the followers and disciples of Jesus" (270-271). Following Christ is serious business; not following Christ is a death wish for one's soul. Please read this book regardless of which category you fall into - you may find yourself switching teams.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    I'm rating this a 5 mostly due to the personal significance I derived while reading, as well as for the enormous theological insight Bonhoeffer's book gave me, in particular about what the Beatitudes actually mean. I put this in the 'life-changing' heading of my personal library, and I'd estimate that about 25% of my copy is now underlined. As for readability, it was a bit of a slog at points as Bonhoeffer's style is quite academic, though his insights are broadly relevant. Overall I found his e I'm rating this a 5 mostly due to the personal significance I derived while reading, as well as for the enormous theological insight Bonhoeffer's book gave me, in particular about what the Beatitudes actually mean. I put this in the 'life-changing' heading of my personal library, and I'd estimate that about 25% of my copy is now underlined. As for readability, it was a bit of a slog at points as Bonhoeffer's style is quite academic, though his insights are broadly relevant. Overall I found his explanatory section on the Sermon on the Mount to be the highlight of the book. I highly recommend the book to anyone willing to put in some work to derive significant insight from the book. I find it so much more revealing that not only did Bonhoeffer preach self-sacrifice and complete obedience to Christ, he actually lived it to the point that he re-entered Nazi Germany and preached openly against Hitler's regime and was eventually martyred just before the end of WWII. A few of my favorite quotes: On 'cheap grace' (the grace we seek without seeking repentance): "In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin." On costly grace (the grace given by God, the result of which is following Christ): "Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life." "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." "The Incarnation is the ultimate reason why the service of God cannot be divorced from the service of man." "If when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts." On the image of Christ: "Rather, it is the image of one who enters a world of sin and death, who takes upon himself all the sorrows of humanity...the Man born to poverty, the friend of publicans and sinners, the Man of sorrows, rejected of man and forsaken of God. Here is God made man, here is man in the new image of God." "It is only because he became like us that we can become like him." And about a hundred more!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brenton

    "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." As a Christian this book was deeply challenging and moving to me. It's difficult to put into words the effect that this book has. Someone of another faith or belief system may find it hard to sympathize, but reading the text will have a similar effect on anyone. Bonhoeffer lived out the radical faith he preaches in this work, and proved it with his life. This forum is too short a medium to convey everything unique and valuable about this work, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." As a Christian this book was deeply challenging and moving to me. It's difficult to put into words the effect that this book has. Someone of another faith or belief system may find it hard to sympathize, but reading the text will have a similar effect on anyone. Bonhoeffer lived out the radical faith he preaches in this work, and proved it with his life. This forum is too short a medium to convey everything unique and valuable about this work, so let me simply encourage anyone out there to read this work, especially those claiming the Christian faith. This work is the root of the theology that is becoming so popular today with books like 'Radical', 'Crazy Love' and 'Irresistible Revolution'. Written during the 1930's and 40's, this work delivers it in a less conversational and fashionable manner, with a much heavier ton and a more thorough treatment of scripture. This isn't a fire and brimstone book, but it will certainly leave the reader feeling sober and reflective. This book was deeply challenging to me personally, and I'm thankful that I had the chance to be exposed to it. I don't agree with 100% of the content, but the struggle with the ideas posed made the comprehension deeper. Once more, I cannot encourage any reader, especially Christian readers looking for a deeper faith, to pick this up, work through the difficult passages (not difficult in reading, but difficult in accepting) and take what they can from it. Even those who have no respect for the Christian faith stand to learn a great deal about it from this work.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Glad to have finally gotten through this classic. The opening of the book was very edifying and I enjoyed the way how the author tackled on the problem of cheap grace theology. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is truly a Lutheran and one get that feel in the book. It is a call to believers to be disciples of Jesus Christ and to be one faithfully. An excellent book for a believer to read to count the cost and one in which the readers must keep in mind that for the author who lived in Nazi Germany had to pay t Glad to have finally gotten through this classic. The opening of the book was very edifying and I enjoyed the way how the author tackled on the problem of cheap grace theology. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is truly a Lutheran and one get that feel in the book. It is a call to believers to be disciples of Jesus Christ and to be one faithfully. An excellent book for a believer to read to count the cost and one in which the readers must keep in mind that for the author who lived in Nazi Germany had to pay the ultimate cost in following Jesus rather than go with the “mainstream” Lutheranism that was supporting if not even being sympathetic to the Nazis. Of the sections in the book, I enjoyed the most the exposition of the Sermon on the Mount as it was challenging as well as sanctifying. He does a good job of showing how the law points us to our utter depravity and ultimately our need for Jesus as Savior. While not taking away from the book’s exposition of the Sermon of the Mount I think his denial of the distinction of turn the other cheek for personal offence versus certain roles and duties (think of police officer, judge, etc) that this doesn’t apply in is problematic. I also have to note that I disagree with the author’s understanding of the role of baptism as well (I don’t find it biblical to baptize infant and his understanding of the relationship between baptism and salvation). I was genuinely surprised that despite the author’s theological educational background, he shows little if any influence of Liberalism in his book. This is a classic that serves as a good devotional.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Woodward

    Within the first few pages of the first chapter, I fell in love with this book. The first chapter, entitled “Costly Grace,” caught me hook, line, and sinker. This is not to say, however, that Bonhoeffer keeps me fastened to his words. Actually, quite the opposite happens. I find that his thoughts become repetitive, and unnecessarily provocative. Themes are repeated over and over. This is not to say that The Cost of Discipleship does not offer a good read, rather it was unnecessarily repetitive i Within the first few pages of the first chapter, I fell in love with this book. The first chapter, entitled “Costly Grace,” caught me hook, line, and sinker. This is not to say, however, that Bonhoeffer keeps me fastened to his words. Actually, quite the opposite happens. I find that his thoughts become repetitive, and unnecessarily provocative. Themes are repeated over and over. This is not to say that The Cost of Discipleship does not offer a good read, rather it was unnecessarily repetitive in areas I thought Bonhoeffer had made his point already. Bonhoeffer also is rather liberal in his theology. Many people refer to Bonhoeffer without knowing the truth of his theology. He didn't believe in a risen Christ, but that the Christians themselves were the only Christ there now is. He did not believe in an ontological resurrection of Jesus. The only resurrection that Bonhoeffer actually believes in is the "resurrection" of the heart. The only reason I did no rate it 2 out of 5 is because if I did, I think I would be judging out of hostility toward it. As it stands, his writing is thought provoking and I did learn from reading this book. I would not, however, recommend this book to a new believer, or one who is unsure about his theological convictions. This would be something good to read for someone who has a solid conviction of his own theological worldview.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Emily Woodham

    I loved this book! Some passages were more difficult than others, but I found it to be time well spent to think through what Bonhoeffer had to say. I disagree with some of Bonhoeffer's pacifist views. He mentioned that he differs from the Reformers on those points, and I think I'd side more with them. Considering that he was a part of the plot to assassinate Hitler, I'd be interested to know how he reconciled the plot with what he proposes in The Cost. I am reading his biography by Metaxas, and I loved this book! Some passages were more difficult than others, but I found it to be time well spent to think through what Bonhoeffer had to say. I disagree with some of Bonhoeffer's pacifist views. He mentioned that he differs from the Reformers on those points, and I think I'd side more with them. Considering that he was a part of the plot to assassinate Hitler, I'd be interested to know how he reconciled the plot with what he proposes in The Cost. I am reading his biography by Metaxas, and I'm hoping that the biography will shed light on this. (My favorite essay on pacifism is C. S. Lewis's "Why I Am Not A Pacifist." I'm sick of war, but there are times when war is necessary.) The book deserves five stars for his expositions of cheap vs. costly grace, the Call, the Incarnation, Baptism, Holy Eucharist, the Believer, and the Church. It was written nearly 75 years ago, but the problems he addresses in this work are timeless. Bonhoeffer does a thorough and excellent job exploring a life lived out by the Spirit with works which are done unawares, yet saints still being purposeful in the pursuit of the Call. My soul feels well fed!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    This book begins with a devotional and challenging coverage of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew's Gospel. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was jailed in World War II because he resisted Nazi influence in the Church and elsewhere. He was hung just before the prison camp was liberated by the Allies. I used to read this book once per year, especially the material about what Bonhoeffer calls "Cheap Grace." As a New Testament Professor, I also assigned it as part of a seminary course on Matthew's Gospel, so th This book begins with a devotional and challenging coverage of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew's Gospel. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was jailed in World War II because he resisted Nazi influence in the Church and elsewhere. He was hung just before the prison camp was liberated by the Allies. I used to read this book once per year, especially the material about what Bonhoeffer calls "Cheap Grace." As a New Testament Professor, I also assigned it as part of a seminary course on Matthew's Gospel, so that my students would read beyond the academic requirements that term. Feedback was always positive. I recommend this to any person who is interested in Christian spirituality, especially those who are resistant to gimmicky things that require no change in believers' lives. I do not agree with everything Bonhoeffer writes here [or elsewhere], but I think that thinking Christians should encounter his view of "Costly Discipleship" versus "Cheap Grace."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brent McCulley

    What is the cost of discipleship? What is cheap grace? What is the Christian walk wherefrom we have stolen what is most holy and subsequently profaned? Bonhoeffer tackles such tough issues that were prevalent in Lutheran Germany previous to National Socialist Germany and WWII in his 'Cost of Discipleship.' Hung in the gallows as a prisoner of the Nazis at the end of the Second World War, Bonhoeffer alone stands as a testament - this book is living proof. "When Christ calls a man, He bids him com What is the cost of discipleship? What is cheap grace? What is the Christian walk wherefrom we have stolen what is most holy and subsequently profaned? Bonhoeffer tackles such tough issues that were prevalent in Lutheran Germany previous to National Socialist Germany and WWII in his 'Cost of Discipleship.' Hung in the gallows as a prisoner of the Nazis at the end of the Second World War, Bonhoeffer alone stands as a testament - this book is living proof. "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." If you haven't read this book, now is the time to. Brent McCulley (10/26/13)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    One of the most personally challenging books I've read; this is not 'family-friendly', soft-hearted, mush-minded evangelicalism but a hard, robust Christianity that recognises the true 'cost': suffering and death in the hope of being raised to new life. I only wish he had drawn even a little from Wesley, rather than largely from Luther on the matter of sanctification (which didn't go nearly far enough, and remained somewhat in despair of sin).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lmichelleb

    Perhaps it is because it has taken me many months of reading just a few pages every Sunday to reach the end of this book, it has become very dear to me. The ideas it has helped me wrestle with and the challenge it gives me to live an active and sacrificial faith make it worth the time spent in its pages. Do I agree with Bonhoeffer on everything? No, but there was room for plenty of dialogue between us as I followed his thinking and challenged my own. Ideas I will continue to ruminate on are: costl Perhaps it is because it has taken me many months of reading just a few pages every Sunday to reach the end of this book, it has become very dear to me. The ideas it has helped me wrestle with and the challenge it gives me to live an active and sacrificial faith make it worth the time spent in its pages. Do I agree with Bonhoeffer on everything? No, but there was room for plenty of dialogue between us as I followed his thinking and challenged my own. Ideas I will continue to ruminate on are: costly grace vs. cheap grace, the interrelated nature of belief and obedience, the desirability that my good works will be visible to others but invisible to me, the coexistence of faith and good works. An immediate re-read would be welcome and may be imminent!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Will

    “If a father sends his child to bed, the boy knows at once what he has to do. But suppose he has picked up a smattering of pseudo-theology. In that case he would argue more or less like this: ‘Father tells me to go to bed, but he really means that I am tired, and he does not want me to be tired. I can overcome my tiredness just as well if I go out and play. Therefore though father tells me to go to bed, he really means: Go out and play.’”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tim Chavel

    What is the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ? Well that is what this book explains. Bonhoeffer makes nit plain that the price is high. Ther cost means we must die to self! I few quotes from the book: Jesus asks nothing of us without giving us the strength to perform it. His commandment never seeks to destroy life, but to foster, strengthen and heal it. p. 40 "Ye are the salt." Jesus does not say: " You must be the salt." It is not for the disciples to decide whether they will be the salt o What is the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ? Well that is what this book explains. Bonhoeffer makes nit plain that the price is high. Ther cost means we must die to self! I few quotes from the book: Jesus asks nothing of us without giving us the strength to perform it. His commandment never seeks to destroy life, but to foster, strengthen and heal it. p. 40 "Ye are the salt." Jesus does not say: " You must be the salt." It is not for the disciples to decide whether they will be the salt of the earth, for they are so whether they like it or not, they have been made salt by the call they have recieved. Again, it is: "Ye are the salt," not "Ye have the salt." p. 130 The call of Jesus makes the disciple community not only the salt but also the light of the world: their activity is visible, as well as imperceptible. "Ye are the light." Once again it is not: "You are to be the light," they are already the light because Christ has called them, they are a light which is seen of men, they cannot be otherwise, and if they were it would be a sign that they had not been called. How impossible, how utterly absurd it would be for the disciples-these disciples, such men as these! - to try and become the light of the world! No, they are already the light, and the call has made them so.The light is not an instrument which has been put in their hands, such as their preaching. It is the disciples themselves. pp. 131-132 Prayer is the supreme instance of the hidden character of the Christian life. It is the antithesis of selfdisplay. When men pray, they have ceased to know themselves, and know only God whom they call upon. Prayer does not aim at any direct effect on the world; it is addressed to God alone, and is therefore the perfect example of undemonstrative action. p. 181 I highly recommend this book but be prepared to be challenged!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eli Mostrales

    In this book, Bonhoeffer coined the term cheap grace. Justification by grace alone is arrived at as the answer to a sum, not as the initial data in man's spiritual quest; here is a relevant quotation from the book: At the end of a life spent in the pursuit of knowledge Faust has to confess: "I now do see that we can nothing know." That is the answer to a sum, it is the outcome of a long experience. But as Kierkegaard observed, it is quite a different thing when a freshman comes up to the university In this book, Bonhoeffer coined the term cheap grace. Justification by grace alone is arrived at as the answer to a sum, not as the initial data in man's spiritual quest; here is a relevant quotation from the book: At the end of a life spent in the pursuit of knowledge Faust has to confess: "I now do see that we can nothing know." That is the answer to a sum, it is the outcome of a long experience. But as Kierkegaard observed, it is quite a different thing when a freshman comes up to the university and uses the same sentiment to justify his indolence. As the answer to a sum, it is perfectly true, but as the initial data it is a piece of self-deception. For acquired knowledge cannot be divorced from the existence in which it is acquired. The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ. Such a man knows that the call to discipleship is a gift of grace, and that the call is inseparable from the grace. But those who try to use this grace as a dispensation from following Christ are simply deceiving themselves.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Will Waller

    The cost of discipleship was an important one for me-turned a new corner with this one. Here are some of my notes from it: The seemingly dischotomous problem of the clals to faith through grace with the call to obedience as well. * they are not divorced but are united--the story of Peter and the boat. * he must be called to obey -- they faith in Jesus exists and he obeys the call to it. * to the sinner who struggles with faith he must obey Jesus' way then he will find faith. Story of the young ric The cost of discipleship was an important one for me-turned a new corner with this one. Here are some of my notes from it: The seemingly dischotomous problem of the clals to faith through grace with the call to obedience as well. * they are not divorced but are united--the story of Peter and the boat. * he must be called to obey -- they faith in Jesus exists and he obeys the call to it. * to the sinner who struggles with faith he must obey Jesus' way then he will find faith. Story of the young rich man: 3 points: Jesus gives it as a commitment, not from God but from the son of God (not a good master) The commandment to sell everything makes obedience neceesary before discpleship; the end is Jesus--he is the way. " There is no time for questions..." "We are confrtoned by Jesus to spontaneous obedience. Exegesis on the Young Rich Man: * to say that literal interpretation of the story is not applicable. Today it is wrong to change the singleminded obedience into downright disobedience. * Faith is primary but not so that obedience is disregarded faith is more liberating/accessible in following commandments. We are not contemporaries of this message yet we cannot escape--it is the Christ who utters them. The cross is the way of Christ. In it we find suffering, yet it will pass away in his yoke is easy. We to must bear the sins of ritches. Jesus calls us to stand done before him, to give purity, family in order. We must not affirm our situation/sin by saying Christ has already born our sin so its okay to exist in it. Beatitudes: The beautitudes represent a connection to Christ @ Golgotha. "With him who has lost it all, all is found." * the disciples must make peace, be persecuted, suffer, must lose dignity; be living with sinners, simply bearing the suffering that comes the way of a follower of Christ. Salt v. Light - Salt is the necessary element to preserve, therefore it may never lose its cleansing power; you are the salt, not you must be therefore, to reject the nature of one's life is to reject Christ and you are thrown out our light must not shine in a reflection of our own work but to point to Christ. The righteousness of the disciples is better because of the cacll by Jesus of a partnership with his righteousness. He doesn't come between them and the law but connects them to it. Murder: by pronoucning judgment, anger on our brother, we are making ourselves God and commiting murder. We are placing our worth above that of our brother; as long as we bring contempt to the altar of God for our brother. We cannot connect with God; because Christ loved us, we too must love our brother. The reason why lust is impure is it keeps us from believing in God's power, are beliving in what is seen, not unseen; our bodies belong to Christ and a affirmation to keep them know he is God. Oath: an oath is unncessary because we are called to absolute truthfulness in Christ; we must not pledge for the future as one can't dictate it, only God; and all evil must be must be laid bare. Revenge: calls us to expose sinfulness through non-violence. Reveals that christian life is not one that heaps evil for evil like politics. Loving enemies: Jesus is calling us to love them, releasing the love more because he from the lies of old Israel; the enemy is the one who despises us. Not the one we despise; we must pray for them, that which they cannot do; to lvo eour enemies so we may connect with them through the cross as Jesus loved his enemies there; the word is (insert greek word) the extraordinary "the surpreme scandal" of the Christian life; in the cruciform, this become relaity. Abstemious: Christian lifestyle demands self-discipline. must be willing to understand the cross desires of the flesh.` Chapter 16: the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle f the spiritwith every available weapon of the flesh; "we cannot let our asceticism become our imitation of Christ's suffering. Equal to this without idolatry. Chatper 17: the disciple must keep his single eye on Christ; If the heart is devoted to the mirage of the world to the creature instead of the creator the disciple is lost. We msut examine what our treasure is and there our heart will be ; we cannot be given to accumulating wealth, but use daily the God given things with thankfulness. You cannot serve two masters, making loving God/hating him, an either/or event. To worry about the morrow or to assume we can change it is to assume the throne of God and perfom blasphemy; we should store up but be thankful for our daily sustenance. Chapter 18: as disciples, they must not judge despite their special relationship with Christ. To sit in judgment of others is to deny that our own sin is in our hearts. And it is to justify our sinfulness; the one like this receoives no special gicfts other than the strength hat comes from our relationship with Jesus. Chatper 19: The way of the disciples is exceddinyl narrow, few can follow: all the commands of Christ point to a way utterly different from the way of the world. We have Christ’s strength alone. Many false prophets shall arise and we shall look to their merts to see their worth. A thte end, we must not rest on our own laurels of our Church. But on the doing of his will; there is the separation between the sayers and the doers. In the end, it is Christ’s call that we can only cling to. Chatper 20 at the end of the sermon on the mount, one may be odedient and be as the man who built his house on the rock or not do it; like the man on the sand house. Chatper 21-26: gives a play by play for the role of the discipleship. Chapter 27: our call today is the same as the one of the disciple. We must love the Lord with our all. It is simply; follow me means baptism recognizes a breach with a previous life. A clear change.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Wow. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is THE MAN. (And not the one who's always trying to keep us down, either.) That thought kept replaying in my mind as I read the memoir that G. K. Bell, the bishop of Chichester, wrote for him at the beginning of the book. Just amazing that he was so willing to stand up to Nazis and Hitler's power at a time when so few were openly doing so, by working to get the Church to publicly condemn the Nazis' actions, by refusing to serve in the army, and by even plotting to bring Wow. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is THE MAN. (And not the one who's always trying to keep us down, either.) That thought kept replaying in my mind as I read the memoir that G. K. Bell, the bishop of Chichester, wrote for him at the beginning of the book. Just amazing that he was so willing to stand up to Nazis and Hitler's power at a time when so few were openly doing so, by working to get the Church to publicly condemn the Nazis' actions, by refusing to serve in the army, and by even plotting to bring Hitler's government down and have his own country be defeated because of the evils that he saw in its persecution of the Jews. Even when he was able to leave Germany to save his life, he made the decision to stay and not abandon his country when he felt it needed him most. Throughout his time in prison and concentration camps, he was constantly helping those who were sick and trying to encourage everyone around him, so much so that his guards gained great respect for him, to the point that they smuggled some of his writings out of prison and apologized for having to lock his door at night! "Further, in his hearing before the Gestapo during his imprisonment, defenceless and powerless as he then was and only fortified by the word of God in his heart, he stood erect and unbroken before his tormentors. He refused to recant, and defied the Gestapo machine by openly admitting that, as a Christian, he was an implacable enemy of National Socialism and its totalitarian demands towards the citizen - defied it, although he was continually threatened with torture and with the arrest of his parents, his sisters and his fiancee, who all had a helping hand in his activities. ... We know from the testimony of a British officer, a fellow-prisoner, of the last service which Dietrich Bonhoeffer held on the day before his death and which 'moved all deeply, Catholics and Protestants alike, by his simple sincerity.' When trying afterwards to keep the imprisoned wives of men executed for their leadership in the plot against Hitler from depression and anxiety, he was taken away. We know that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was never tried, went steadfastly on his last way to be hanged, and died with admirable calmness and dignity." Wow, wow, wow. I was totally amazed by Bonhoeffer's life after reading this, and so was all that much more blown away when I read what he wrote in the Cost of Discipleship (and realized he would probably be very much opposed to me saying that he's the man... =\). He argues that the church has succumbed to a concept of cheap grace, where we are so desperately trying to get people "in" that we will let them (and ourselves) act any way that we want, as long as we say that we "believe," thereby contradicting ourselves by saying that we believe things that we won't actually commit to doing, and also making serious hypocrites out of ourselves. It's a little more complicated than that and much better explained, but basically he is saying that one cannot say one follows Jesus if one does not actually obey him. Then, he goes on to the stuff that really surprised me, taking such a humble view of any action on our part in our whole relationship with God: saying how God calls us and basically enables us to follow, how we are able to be like Jesus only because Jesus first became like us and brings his image to bear in us... There is not much room (if any) for thinking that any positive changes that happen in us, or any good actions that we do, are originated or resulting from ourselves; these things all come from God, and if we feel like we are becoming righteous or good, then, Bonhoeffer says, we'd better be repenting, because that thought shows that we are precisely not. These things, along with the extremely self-sacrificing, humble, pacifist, and dependent (on God) lifestyle that Bonhoeffer describes, are incredibly difficult to accept (and somewhat to understand, since sometimes his arguments get a little convoluted). The discipleship that Bonhoeffer talks about is so incredibly demanding and has such little room for ego appeasement within it that it not only seems nigh impossible, but almost completely unattractive, were it not for his repeated insistence that this is the path that true disciples should be treading. I would say that he says that the recompense, even in an earthly sense, is more than worth it, but I don't think he ever goes there, because I think he wants us not to follow Jesus for our own personal gain, but to follow because we are called, and should obey. A very challenging book for me personally, and in truth, since I read it over such a large period of time, I don't feel like many of the points stuck with me (and part of that was probably purposeful, because what he said was so... radical and demanding). I hope that I will come back to this book again to re-read it in the future, and for now, am still amazed to see such an incredible person live and espouse such a humble, self-effacing, and self-denying lifestyle and life philosophy. Again, wow.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Yes: He tried to kill Hitler, and was martyred for it. If you know nothing else about Bonhoeffer, you just might know that. So no one truly reads Bonhoeffer apart from his biography. As a pastor and theologian, he is always a tyrannicide and martyr first, and I don't apologize for reading him accordingly. This does not limit the force of his writing. Nothing about his biography would explain how he got to where he ended up. How does a Prussian aristocrat become an anti-racist activist in Germany Yes: He tried to kill Hitler, and was martyred for it. If you know nothing else about Bonhoeffer, you just might know that. So no one truly reads Bonhoeffer apart from his biography. As a pastor and theologian, he is always a tyrannicide and martyr first, and I don't apologize for reading him accordingly. This does not limit the force of his writing. Nothing about his biography would explain how he got to where he ended up. How does a Prussian aristocrat become an anti-racist activist in Germany and in America? His life can tell that story, but only in dialogue with his gospel. The richness of his life is nevertheless a valid key to the work. I've now read Discipleship three times: once as a devotional, once in a course on Bonhoeffer's theology, and most recently, with anti-fascist applications in mind. All three readings have instructed and convicted me in different ways, and all are true to Bonhoeffer's life and work. He was always a pastor, and a theologian, and an activist, all at once. And his vision of the disciple, too, partakes always of all three facets. Christians cannot be activists unless we are first, second, and last of all disciples of Jesus-- which will make us pastors and theologians too, defined by God's people and grounded in God's Word. A few salient points from this reading: --The text never calls out its true (Nazi) targets by name, but its meaning was clear enough to its readers. When Jesus calls disciples, Bonhoeffer shows, he calls them specifically out of the blood-and-soil relationships the Nazis idolized, into an anti-racist fellowship that the world will hate. This was a deeply contextual theology, phrased in universal terms: "Each call of Christ's leads toward death", not only the calls of martyrs under fascism. I find this example compelling as a theologian: We may write fearlessly to and about our times without letting our times define or confine our writing. Nor do we need to chase eternity or perfection. Many of Bonhoeffer's phrasings, emphases, and claims are "of his time" at best, but his whole work's provocation remains intact. --For Episcopalians, whose liturgy leads us often to remember our baptisms but who seldom speak in terms of discipleship, Bonhoeffer's chapter on baptism is especially crucial. For him, everything the synoptic gospels say about the disciples, Paul says about the baptized. I want to try preaching this now and see how it goes.

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