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The Cost of Discipleship [Kindle Edition]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (331 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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? What is his will for us today? Drawing on the Sermon on the Mount, Dietrich Bonhoeffer answers these timeless questions by providing a seminal reading of the dichotomy between “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” “Cheap grace,” Bonhoeffer wrote, “is the grace we bestow on ourselves...grace without discipleship....Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the girl which must be asked for, the door at which a man must know....It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

The Cost of Discipleship is a compelling statement of the demands of sacrifice and ethical consistency from a man whose life and thought were exemplary articulations of a new type of leadership inspired by the Gospel, and imbued with the spirit of Christian humanism and a creative sense of civic duty.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." With these words, in The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave powerful voice to the millions of Christians who believe personal sacrifice is an essential component of faith. Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, was an exemplar of sacrificial faith: he opposed the Nazis from the first and was eventually imprisoned in Buchenwald and hung by the Gestapo in 1945. The Cost of Discipleship, first published in German in 1937, was Bonhoeffer's answer to the questions, "What did Jesus mean to say to us? What is his will for us to-day?" Bonhoeffer's answers are rooted in Lutheran grace and derived from Christian scripture (almost a third of the book consists of an extended meditation on the Sermon on the Mount). The book builds to a stunning conclusion: its closing chapter, "The Image of Christ," describes the believer's spiritual life as participation in Christ's incarnation, with a rare and epigrammatic confidence: "Through fellowship and communion with the incarnate Lord," Bonhoeffer writes, "we recover our true humanity, and at the same time we are delivered from that individualism which is the consequence of sin, and retrieve our solidarity with the whole human race." --Michael Joseph Gross

Language Notes

Text: English
Original Language: German

Product Details


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524 of 538 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book on what it means to follow Christ December 29, 2001
Format:Paperback
I recently took a seminary class that dealt with traditions in Christian devotion, and one of the assignments was to pick a classic Christian book and do a report on it. I chose "Cost of Discipleship" because I had wanted to read it for some time. Much has been said about the book's power, and I desired to experience that for myself. After finishing it, I can see why "Cost of Discipleship" has challenged so many in their walk with Christ.
The book's major theme centers on what it really means to be a disciple of Christ. This is summed up by Bonhoeffer's statement that Christ calls us to "come and die." Christ wants all of us - nothing is to be held back. One is either a disciple of Christ, or they are not. There is no middle ground. The true disciple is dying to his or her life as a whole, and their old life is being replaced with the life of Christ.
"Cost of Discipleship" is soaked in Scripture, and that is one of its main strengths. This is not surprising, since reading the Bible actually contributed to Bonhoeffer's personal conversion and commitment to Christ. Bonhoeffer constantly refers to Biblical passages to make his points, and he does not resort to storytelling or even personal anecdotes. One can sense his deep love for the Bible and for Christ throughout the book. Another strength is Bonhoeffer's conveyance of how imperative commitment to Christ really is. Bonhoeffer was an early foe of Adolph Hitler, and this book was published while he was being persecuted by the Nazis. Thererfore, he wrote as one who has stood for Christ in tough times, and he knew that Christ is one's only hope. Indeed, he eventually gave his life for his faith, and by all Christian and secular accounts glorified God to the very end.
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192 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "He Who Learns Must Suffer . . . January 13, 2005
Format:Paperback
"And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." These words of Aeschylus echoed through me time and time again as I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Cost of Discipleship". This was not an easy book to read. I do not think it was meant to be easy.

Bonhoeffer was a person of limitless courage and faith. Born 1906 in Breslau, Germany to a prosperous family Bonhoeffer studied theology and completed his doctoral thesis when he was 21. He rose to some measure of fame in the 1930s by virtue of his writings and radio sermons.

The rise of Adolph Hitler ran parallel to Bonhoeffer's own rise and it was opposition to the evils of Nazi-ism that compelled Bonhoeffer to put his words into actions, actions that cost him his life. As is set out in the introductory memoir in this edition, Bonhoeffer understood immediately that Hitler and his national socialist ideology represented a grave threat to Germans, to Christianity, and to western civilization. In a radio adress he gave in February, 1933 Bonhoeffer denounced Hitler and denounced his fellow Germans for accepting a corrupt and inhumane leader and system as its idol. Although Bonhoeffer spent a great deal of time living in England, safe from harm, he understood that he could not in good conscience "participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people." Bonhoeffer returned to Germany in 1939 to take up the struggle against Nazi-ism. He had to have known that his return would lead to his death but he knew he could not do otherwise. He was called and he obeyed that call without question.
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209 of 229 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is without question a hero of the Christian Faith, and one would be well served to study his thoughts, theology, commitment and example. But this is probabaly not the place to start, for two reasons.

(1) The writing style of this book is badly outdated and hard to follow and understand. This book badly needs an editor to put Bonhoeffer's thoughts into more modern prose. This book, as it is, is a difficult and at times convoluted read. A new updated editon is badly needed.

(2)Secondly, and more importantly, this book is early Bonhoeffer,full of didactic thought, at times morally pompus. A better place to start a study of Bonhoeffer might be his last work, "Letters from Prison..." written at the end of his life. this work is the more seasoned, more mature Bonhoeffer, a man who has seen to some the degree the mistakes and folly of his earlier thinking.

Case in point: In this work, Bonhoeffer says to be a disciple a man must separate himself from the everyday living of life. In the later book, "Letters from Prison," he writes, it is "only by living completely in the world that one learns to have faith..." He says he stands by his earlier book because he wrote it, it is his work, but he makes it clear that if he had it to do over again, his thought would be different and he would express himself in a way much more understanding of the world in which we live.

For that reason, "Letters From Prison..." would be the best place to get the complete, aged and wise Bonhoeffer.
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More About the Author

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 Naz*s, which led to his arrest in 1943. Linked to the group of conspirators whose attempted assassination of Hitlerr failed, he was hanged in April 1945.

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