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The Cost of Discipleship [Paperback]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall & IBD; Revised edition edition (1 Mar 1963)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020838506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020838500
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 342,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The German theologian interprets the scriptures in an attempt to articulate the meaning of true Christian living and its basis in the giving of self.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not For Most New Believers 9 Dec 2009
By Mark K. Wickersham - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was caught in the planning of assassinating Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer was executed by the Gestapo by being hung at the Flossenburg Concentration Camp in 1945. He wrote The Cost of Discipleship almost 70 years ago at an age not much younger than I am. My wife read this book back in her Wheaton days, and I thought I should read it since it is considered by many to be one of the most important Christian books ever written. I zipped through Bonhoeffer's Life Together a few years ago, but I was not as motivated to complete The Cost of Discipleship. The Cost of Discipleship is an exposition of what it means to truly follow Christ, and it is not exactly light reading. The book provides us the true meaning of grace, gives an interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and explains what is required of followers of Christ.

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves... 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... Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.... It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life."
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The price to be paid... 25 Oct 2005
By FrKurt Messick - Published on
Format:Unknown Binding
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one who knew of that which he spoke when dealing with the issue of cheap grace versus costly grace. Bonhoeffer's commitment to the principles of his vocation and being cost him his life - executed in the closing days of World War II, Bonhoeffer walked a dangerous path through exercising his vocation faithfully in the midst of the twin evils of warfare and Nazi domination of Germany.

Bonhoeffer's life, from the earliest days, probably seemed like it was set on an idyllic path - the son of a professional family with strong roots in a prosperous and civilised culture, Bonhoeffer would seem to have 'had it made'. His early days in school showed him to be a minister and academic of great promise. However, his experiences at Union Seminary in New York City, an academic environment very different from the German academy, and at the Abyssian Baptist Church, an African-American congregation, vastly different from his Germanic Lutheran background, prepared a way for Bonhoeffer to expand beyond his upbringing and learning to become someone striving to find God in all people, and the will of God in all that he did.

The subject of this book is grace - too often, in Bonhoeffer's day and our own, people seem to look at grace as something free, instead of something freely offered. Bonhoeffer points out that the call of God and the gift of God's grace is not to be taken lightly - 'the call to follow Jesus always leads to death'. This may seem an unusual call in our day; after all, the more prosperous of our churches would seem to espouse a conventionally respectable lifestyle (far from the 'death' Bonhoeffer speaks about) as the reward for following God. However, Bonhoeffer uses the example of the disciples, each of whom faced martyrdom, as did many early Christian leaders, as a touchstone for the vocation.

Bonhoeffer also gives a great deal of attention in this text to the Sermon on the Mount, providing interpretations that still speak to congregations today, but also with warnings. Bonhoeffer admonishes those who would pick and choose the parts of scripture, or indeed the parts of the Sermon on the Mount, that fit what they want to hear, disregarding the rest. Bonhoeffer writes that we are not called to interpret, but to obey, giving ourselves up to God, as the disciples did, as martyrs did, and as Bonhoeffer himself would do in the fullness of his lifetime.

This edition of Bonhoeffer's great work is prefaced by his friend, Bishop G.K.A. Bell of Chichester, a friend and admirer of Bonhoeffer, who states that, 'Dietrich himself was a martyr many times before he died'. There is also a memoir provided by G. Leibholz, which puts the text in historical context. However, the real substance of the book is in Bonhoeffer's own words. Cheap grace was the deadly enemy of the church then, and it remains a dangerous foe to this day.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars review of The Cost of Discipleship 7 Sep 2009
By Kay - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is NOT an easy read; however it is very thought provoking for the more "mature" Christian. I would not recommend it for a reader new to his or her walk with God as the concepts presented might be a bit overwhelming. To someone firmly grounded in Christian faith, I found it inspiring and helpful in understanding absolute obedience.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H. Propp - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, as well as a participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism. He was hung for his part in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This book was first published in 1937.

He begins this book by asking, "In the last resort, what we want to know is ... what Jesus Christ himself wants of us." (Pg. 37) He believes that it is becoming clearer every day that the most urgent problem besetting our Church is this: "How can we live the Christian life in the modern world?" (Pg. 60)

For Bonhoeffer, we must boldly assert that "the step of obedience must be taken before faith can be possible." (Pg. 72) He cautions us that if Jesus comes between the disciples and the law, he does so not to release them from the duties it imposes, but to validate his demand that they should fulfill it; he concludes, "Only the doer of the law can remain in communion with Jesus." (Pg. 139-140) The Incarnation is the ultimate reason why the service of God cannot be divorced from the service of man. (Pg. 140)

He concludes that we cannot know Jesus without at the same time knowing his will. (Pg. 251) Ultimately---and this passage has even greater meaning in the context of Bonhoeffer's own life experience---"no higher privilege can the Christian enjoy, than to suffer `for Christ.'" (Pg. 273)

Bonhoeffer provided a sterling example in his own life of the "cost of discipleship"; this book is essential reading for any student of modern theology.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cost of Decipleship 26 Jun 2009
By William A. Berg - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is a tribute to having the right personnal convictions and being willing to suffer the consequences when they are unpopular.
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