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Speaking as a man who truly lived out his faith under the worst of circumstances, Dietrich Bonhoeffer does so with a mantle of authority. The bulk of The Cost of Discipleship is devoted to reclaiming the rightful authority of the Sermon on the Mount, and by extension, the teaching of the Gospels, in the life of the believer.
Throughout Christianity today, the Sermon on the Mount is often presented in a certain context; that is, that it was given under the dispensation of the Old Testament prior to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose was not so much to instruct Christian living, but in its extremity to reveal the utter hopelessness to live it out, and hence to point the sinner to the cross of Christ to receive forgiveness in Him. While this is partially true, Bonhoeffer's argument is that believers are no less bound to take the Sermon on the Mount and the Gospels to heart to live them out every moment of every day to the greatest extent possible.
Bonhoeffer distinguishes between easy grace and costly grace--easy grace being the belief that, because Christ has paid for our sins on the cross, which He has, that the believer need no longer be overly concerned with conforming His life to the hard sayings of Jesus in the Gospels; on the contrary, costly grace, by virtue of our understanding of what it cost Christ, should motivate us even further to go further in Christ and to live out.a life which is worthy of what has been given to us.
I would particularly recommend this to believers who have been in the faith for a while; for whom perhaps the Sermon on the Mount and the New Testament teachings of Jesus in the Gospel have perhaps become "old hat." Such believers will be challenged afresh to measure their lives and fruit against the standard of Christ.
The idea that God loves you too much to let you suffer, is about the most blasphemous and false doctrine to ever permeate the Christian church. It is especially rampant in the United States of America where preachers preach the false doctrine of self gratification, self indulgent Christianity where God is reduced to genie in a bottle that you can rub with the write words (faith formulas) and get anything you want. Where salvation and lavish prosperity is taught as a birthright because you were lucky enough to be born in the the country of America, and because of this God loves you more then any other race in the world and would never consider letting you suffer even the slightest bit.
The Cost of Discipleship will open your eyes to the truth about what is necessary to truly follow the "real" God of the Bible. An omniscient, omnipotent creator who deserves to be worshiped and served. A God who deserves to be followed by His creation that loves Him above all else and trust Him and respects His decrees more then their own opinions, culture or traditions. A God who requires His followers to honor Him as King in their lives and to be patriotic to His kingdom more then their own countries.
Even in the terrible oppression under the Nazi German government, Dietrich Bonhoeffer did not give up his faith with no fear of being killed. He is apprised as an “Apostle of the modern era” and a “defender of Western civilization”. Through this book, I had been kept seeking his core theological source of conviction which enabled him to keep his faith so resiliently: Unfortunately, the conviction lead him to his death of the young age 39. From this book, I could successfully recognize Bonhoeffer’s rigid ideological foundation that made it possible for him to be killed by a capital death of hanging, as a martyr. I found that he thought it is not only the Christian’s right but duty to protest the government which is against God’s law, righteousness or providence.
Needless to say, on the premise that he was a Lutheran pastor, his logic and ethics are elaborated with these words such as “only the Bible”, “Grace alone”, “faith alone”, “the mystery of Incarnation”, and the “theology of Cross”. However, I paid attention to the logical point that how theologically he could make possible to refuse the law of “the world”, the law “on the earth”. Even though those laws and the Nazi government itself had occurred legally in a democratic regime and had legitimacy, he could deny it because of the reason that God’s law is superior to laws “on the earth”.
Bonhoeffer proved theologically the superiority of God’s law than the law of the world with criticism on “leagalism”, the concept of Christ as a “Mediator”, criticism on the Reformers who justify and admits nations’ the right of revenge, criticism on some Protestant denomination who has theology that confuse Christ’s love and patriotism (p.152). Bonhoeffer’s theology depends on fine exegesis or interpretation of scriptures. In fact, we can find at least some evidence that his theology is breaching Lutheran authentic “doctrine of two kingdoms”, i.e. the mutual non-aggression between religion and states. Although it would not be completely denied the doctrine of separation of religion and states, we are able to recognize these phrases as a clue to breach the doctrine: For instance, “The law must be broken for the sake of Jesus; it forfeits all rights if it acts as a barrier to discipleship (p.61)”, Bonhoeffer wrote, “No law of the world can interfere with this fellowship (p.257)”, “They live their own life under alien rulers and alien laws (p.296)”, “Jesus, the champion of the true law, must suffer at the hands of the champions of the false law (p.121)”. From this point of view, we can find the reason of “the evil law is not a law”, in other words, he breached the dogma that “a law is a law, however undesirable it may be”. Laws on the earth are valid only if those are not against the will of Jesus, that is to say God’s law. Jesus “alone understands the nature of the law as God’s law (p.122)”. Apparently this logic is the base what enables Bonhoeffer to protest Nazi Germany and its laws.
Then, if that is the case, on what ethical ground or virtue should we human beings live “in the world”. In Bonhoeffer’s theology, the corner stone of ethics is based on the Lutheran notion of “Pecca fortiter”, i.e. Sin Boldly: Human beings must recognize deeply his weakness, incompleteness, and sinfulness, and then we may be compensated if we completely rely on Omnipotent Father God and Christ as the Mediator. According to Bonhoeffer, Christians need to follow Jesus’ life and death, and to obey his teaching, that means realization of God’s Word. And they should put “beatitudes” into practice in “the Body of Christ” namely in the Church, in the Christian community.
When Christians take the Sermon on the mount into practice, they need to be the Beatitudes; the poor, the person who mourn, the meek, the person who suffer from hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peace makers, the person who are persecuted for righteous sake. Only through this practice, they can become disciples of Christ. If they could practice, simply to do this discipleship on the world, i.e. in daily life, with love of fellowship, they could be “salt of the earth” and they could be able to express their extraordinariness or peculiarity without intention. Bonhoeffer argues that this extraordinariness is the realization of the law of God, and Christian peculiarity will come out in their proclamation, which means manifest of God’s law. The righteousness of God can never be contributed back to “Justica Civils” i.e. laws of citizen, and therefore Christians shall be persecuted as strangers in the secular world. Nevertheless, just in the midst of the persecution, Christians must show the divinity of the righteousness of God. Therefore he wrote it down not only once that the death in martyrdom is the supreme grace for Christians who follows Jesus’ life and want to be imitative of Jesus’ death on the Cross.
From above, we can confirm the base conceptions of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: First, for Christian, God’s law exceeds law on the world. Second, Christians are separated from the secular world and must show their divinity and extraordinariness in the daily life by practicing beatitudes. Third, the death of s martyr is the supreme gift which a few of Christians are given. I guess if he had not these theological conceptions, Bonhoeffer could not get the triumph of martyrdom under the cruel Nazi government.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906. He learned theology in Tuebingen University and became a lecturer of the University of Berlin when he was only 24 years old. Then he studied at the Union theological Seminary in New York. Reckless of danger, in 1935 he started protesting against the German Christian Movement that spread rapidly in Germany together with the prosperity of Nazional Sozialisms. He accused it as an Antichrist ideology. He reported to his friends in Britain and the US the truth and facts of German Church Struggle between the Deutchen Kristen and the Confession Church, and as a leader of the Confession Church movement, he also taught underground at an illegal Church Training College. When the assassination plan for Adolf Hitler comes to surface, Bonhoeffer was arrested by Gestapo, as one of the suspects on April 5th in 1943. On April 9th in 1945, he was killed by hanging through SS chief Heinlich Himmler’s order. It was only few weeks before the day when Berlin was freed by the Soviet Union Red Army.