The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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.

Homeschooled Olympic Athlete

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 is all he wants.

It sounds to me as if she’s got it pretty well in perspective. Read more about Jennifer Nichols and her Olympic performance here, and here.
Jennifer Nichols only made it to the quarterfinals in individual competition at the Olympics, but I’m sure she and her parents and God are all pleased with her best. She still has the team competition on Friday. Oh, and for Dancer Daughter, J. N. is a dancer, too.
She says dancing is an outlet and has taken classes in ballet, modern, jazz, tap and Irish Step. She recently started teaching a “pre-dance” class to 4- to 6-year-olds at a dance studio in Cheyenne.

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

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), real estate (Prov. 31:16), agriculture (31:16), evangelism (Phil. 4:3), philanthropy (Prov. 31:20), logistical support for ministry (Rom. 16:1,6), explaining theology (Acts 18:26), and more. In all of this, the central responsibility is of course the home. This priority on the home is not threatened by geographical location; it is threatened only by sin and disobedience. ?Douglas Wilson in Credenda Agenda, Vol. 7, Issue 3 Feminist Traditionalism

I’m not doing too well at my dominion over the home, but it’s not because my mind and my abilities are not being challenged enough. I’m just not very good at the career in which God has placed me. Right now a simple 9 to 5 job sounds boring, but at least possible. No, really, I’ll keep doing my best to manage my home, and pray for grace and wisdom.

Join Me in Glad Adoration

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 grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion?
For more than conquerors we are!

His Word shall not fail you?He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

In 1918, Helen Lemmel, a teacher of voice at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, wrote these words and the tune to go with them. She was inspired by these words in a tract called Focused: “So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness. ”
I desperately need to focus my attention and hope on Jesus Christ himself today instead of all the things that distress and distract me. Won’t you do the same?

Sin Leads to More Sin; Movies Lead to Catharsis?

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 Much, North By Northwest, Notorious, Rear WIndow, Rebecca, To Catch a Thief, and Vertigo.

(Semicolon’s 107 Best Movies)

So Hitchcock is my favorite director. He made scary movies that were not (usually) gory nor full of gratuitous violence. I don’t include Psycho or The Birds on my list because I watched them both ages ago and they scared the bejabbers out of me. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I do know that I plan never to see either one of them again. As for the others that did make the list, they are full of suspense, plot twists and engaging characters. I would have preferred that Hitchcock had cast someone besides Kim Novak in Vertigo, but as compensation, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart are about my favorite leading men.

Hitchcock, again, with the last word: “‘Once a man commits himself to murder, he will soon find himself stealing. The next step will be alcoholism, disrespect for the Sabbath and from there on it will lead to rude behaviour. As soon as you set the first steps on the path to destruction you will never know where you will end. Lots of people owe their downfall to a murder they once committed and weren’t too pleased with at the time ‘”

Charlotte Mary Yonge

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, I gather from my reading, too Victorian and Christian and didactic to be very popular nowadays, but they were enormously popular in Victorian England. She loved history and wrote many volumes of history, especially history stories for young children. I read a bit of one of her books online at Project Gutenberg, a book called Young Folks’ History of England. I thought it was delightful–even though I couldn’t agree with her characterizations of all the kings she writes about. Here’s an excerpt to give you a sample:

About Henry V The young King Henry was full of high, good thoughts. He was devout in going to church, tried to make good Bishops, gave freely to the
poor, and was so kindly, and hearty, and merry in all his words and ways, that everyone loved him. Still, he thought it was his duty to go and make war in France. He had been taught to believe the kingdom belonged to him, and it was in so wretched a state that he thought he could do it good. The poor king, Charles VI., was mad, and had a wicked wife besides; and his sons, and uncles, and cousins were always fighting, till the streets of Paris were often red with blood, and the whole country was miserable. Henry hoped to set all in order for them, and gathering an army together, crossed to Normandy.

Here are some titles of books by Yonge; I truly enjoyed reading just the titles, so evocative of a bygone era.

Aunt Charlotte’s Stories of English History for the Little Ones
Aunt Charlotte’s Stories of German History for the Little Ones
(and Greek and French and Roman, etc.)
Burnt Out: A Story for Mother’s Meetings
Aunt Charlotte’s Evenings at Home with the Poets
How to Teach the New Testament
Stray Pearls
Given to Hospitality
Spring Buds: Counsels for the Young
The Penniless Princesses
The Crossroads, or a Choice in Life
The Patriots of Palestine, a Story of the Maccabees
Reasons Why I am a Catholic and not a Roman Catholic
Willie’s Trouble and How He Came Out of It

Don’t those titles take you back in time? The books themselves may be pure drivel, but I plan to add Yonge’s most famous novel, The Heir of Redclyffe to my legendary and growing Reading List. She may simply be too pious, in the best sense of the word, for our modern and post-modern sensibilities.

Frontier House

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 homestead in Montana using only the tools and survival skills available to a family in 1883. I’m impressed with the amount of work, ingenuity, and just grit that it took to live on the frontier–even in the summer/fall of the year. I can’t imagine surviving a Montana winter. I told my son that I don’t think I’d last any longer than two days, but then even in my rather sheltered life I’ve found that people often can do whatever they have to do. In other words, if there were no choice, if I were “stuck” on a homestead in Montana in 1883, I might find that I could do what had to be done. I thought the historical aspects of the program were very interesting, and the concept is intriguing. However, I did find it amazing that at least two of the three families were willing to air so much “dirty laundry” in public. These families know that they’re going to be on TV, yet they feud and gossip and talk about divorce and about their private lives. I doubt if families of the 1880’s would have been anywhere near so open with their private affairs. But in our day and age we “let it all hang out.” I’m also amazed at what some people write on their blogs for all the world to see. Propriety is a lost concept.