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The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Posted by Sherry on 3/21/2011 in 40 Inspirational Classics, General, Nonfiction |

40 Inspirational Classics for Lent

Bonhoeffer, like Corrie Ten Boom, was a Christian, a German Christian in his case, caught up in the difficulties of confronting Nazism. He separated himself from the German Lutheran church over the issue of Nazism, and he was finally executed for his participation in a plot to assassinate Hitler. A biography of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxis called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy was published last year and got lots of good reviews. I’m in the middle of reading Metaxis’ biography now, and I’m quite fascinated with its portrait of a young man with such firm beliefs and such an adventurous spirit. I’d also like to re-read Bonhoeffer’s book about the Sermon on the Mount, The Cost of Discipleship, and I do remember it as an inspiring and challenging read.

Bonhoeffer lived and wrote during the same time as two of my literary and spiritual heroes, C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien. One wonders what the men would have made of each other had they met. Tolkien and Lewis both were interested in all things Germanic and Norse, and Bonhoeffer would surely have found the Oxford dons quite congenial and vice-versa. I would note that there is some controversy over whether or not Metaxis’ portrayal of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is accurate or somewhat slanted toward making him seem like a modern-day “evangelical.” However, from what I’ve read so far the biography does a good job of discussing Bonhoeffer’s evolving beliefs in an impartial but respectful way, giving him the benefit of the doubt so to speak. I don’t see the harm in that approach. I really think that arguments over whether men like Bonhoeffer or even Lewis or Tolkien were sufficiently “evangelical” or “orthodox” to be saved are counter-productive and beside the point. They considered themselves Christians, followers of Jesus, and who are we to contradict their affirmation of faith? If there are specific arguments with certain statements made by these faith-filled men, those are worth discussing, but their eternal destiny is in God’s hands.

And again, I would recommend The Cost of Discipleship, a book whose original German title was simply Discipleship. A few quotes:

“His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. They renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they over-come evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.”
I think, looking back, that Bonhoeffer’s book may have been an influence on the pacifism that I adopted as a young adult (and later gave up). I haven’t yet gotten to the part of the biography where Bonhoeffer reconciles his early pacifism with his participation in the plot to kill Hitler, but it will be interesting to read about that aspect of his thinking.

“The call goes forth, and is at once followed by the response of obedience. …. It displays not the slightest interest in the psychological reason for a man’s religious decisions. And why? For the simple reason that the cause behind the immediate following of call by response is Jesus Christ Himself.”
It’s rather amazing to me to remember that God actually understands psychology –better that the psychologists do. He is able to call us over the objections and mystifications caused by our individual psychological make-up and issues.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. 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. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

We are truly bought with a great price, and taking for granted the mercy of God, assuming that we belong to Christ without truly making any effort to follow Him, is a costly error. What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? We are “saved to sin no more” and if we do fall into sin and error, as I do daily, we should claim God’s grace all the more because we need Him so desperately.


Christian Fiction

Posted by Sherry on 8/18/2004 in General |

Interesting article in the Seattle Times about Christian-themed books, particularly fiction. Unfortunately, the author cites the Left Behind books as the primary examples.


Homeschooled Olympic Athlete

Posted by Sherry on 8/18/2004 in General |

Jennifer Nichols is a homeschool graduate, a Christian, and an archer. This quote is from her interview with a PBS reporter: I want it to be like a worship to him. I give God my best, but if that doesn’t measure up to what other people are doing, I have offered my best. And that […]


I Think I’ll Simplify My Life and Get a Job

Posted by Sherry on 8/16/2004 in General |

According to Scripture, a married woman’s focus and orientation is required to be towards her home. But while the Bible teaches that a woman’s priority is the home (Tit. 2:11), the Bible most emphatically does not teach that a woman’s place is limited to the home. Her place is in the home (1 Tim. 5:14), […]


Join Me in Glad Adoration

Posted by Sherry on 8/15/2004 in General, Music and Hymns |

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Helen Lemmel (1863-1961) O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There?s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free! Chorus: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will […]


Blind Love

Posted by Sherry on 8/14/2004 in General |

Today is the birthday of Sir Walter Besant (b.1836) who finished Wilkie Collins’ last novel after Collins’ death. Doesn’t this novel sound like a fine melodramatic thriller for a cold night in October or November? Don’t try to stop me; I’m going to add it to The List.


Sin Leads to More Sin; Movies Lead to Catharsis?

Posted by Sherry on 8/13/2004 in --August, Birthdays, Movies |

Alfred Hitchcock: “”Seeing a murder on television can help work off one’s antagonisms. And if you haven’t any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.” Today is also the anniversary of the birth of Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (b.1899, d.1980). I have seven Hitchcock films on my 102 Best Movies list: The Man Who Knew Too […]


Charlotte Mary Yonge

Posted by Sherry on 8/13/2004 in General |

Victorian author Charlotte Yonge was born on this date in 1823 (d. 1901). She was extremely prolific, author of over 120 books in addition to children’s stories, Sunday School materials, and other writings. She taught Sunday School for over seventy years to children of the village where she lived out her life. Her books are, […]


Musical Homeschooling Family

Posted by Sherry on 8/11/2004 in Education and Homeschool |

Here’s a great article on a family of ten from the Seattle area. The children and the parents all sing together and play instruments. It sounds idyllic. Thanks to Homeschool and Other Stuff for the link.


Frontier House

Posted by Sherry on 8/11/2004 in Movies |

Computer Guru Son and I have been watching the PBS version of reality TV, the series Frontier House. I checked out a DVD of the entire series at the library, and we’ve watched all but the final episode. In the series, three families from various parts of the U.S. are asked to live on a […]

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