The Cost of Discipleship

The Cost of Discipleship

One of the most important theologians of the twentieth century illuminates the relationship between ourselves and the teachings of Jesus in this classic text on ethics, humanism, and civic duty.What can the call to discipleship, the adherence to the word of Jesus, mean today to the businessman, the soldier, the laborer, or the aristocrat? What did Jesus mean to say to us?...

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Title:The Cost of Discipleship
Author:Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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Edition Language:English

The Cost of Discipleship Reviews

  • 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

    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,

    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

    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,

    . 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Amanda Geaney (Christian Shelf-Esteem)

    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.

    I am a work in progress.

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