When David Platt mentioned Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” in his book, “Radical“, I knew I had to reread it. It has been 25 years since I last read the book but I still remember the impression it made — a real faith forged in the reality of the pseudo-Christian culture of Nazi Germany. I thought about searching my library for that old copy but saw there was a new translation available and couldn’t pass it up.
We may not be fighting the same culture wars as Bonhoeffer but the battles are similar. Not only must we struggle against a secular culture that hates the message of Christ but we also must struggle against a Christian culture that confuses the Gospel with right-wing politics and God’s blessing with affluence.
Do we see ourselves as enemies of the anti-Christian culture around us or as servants willing to sacrifice ourselves for our neighbors? Are we identified by the moral and political stands we take or do people marvel at our love for our neighbors, all our neighbors? Discipleship means following Christ. Following Christ means ….
[Update: 11/14/2013] Having now finished the book I can say that I was not disappointed. Reading Bonhoeffer is like eating meat when you have become used to eating mush. It is so complex and so good for you but at the same time so difficult to chew. I have placed the book on my todo list to read again next year.
Book InfoDiscipleship: Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 4
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Publisher: Fortress Press
“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.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau in 1906. The son of a famous German psychiatrist, he studied in Berlin and New York City. He left the safety of America to return to Germany and continue his public repudiation of the Nazis, which led to his arrest in 1943. Linked to the group of conspirators whose attempted assassination of Hitler failed, he was hanged in April 1945.
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