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“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” 

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship   

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Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” 
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship   

Bucket List Books: Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship

By RACHEL LYNN ALDRICH

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a controversial figure on many counts. I wrote a research paper on him one semester in college hoping to come to a conclusion. The only conclusion I came to was that, while I wasn’t sure what I thought about all of his theology and actions, there was one thing I respected greatly about him: Bonhoeffer decided what he believed about something and then acted on it without reserve, regardless of the cost.

It is on this backdrop that his book The Cost of Discipleship becomes even more powerful.

As a book it stands easily on its own merits. The book essentially takes on the format of a sermon, moving passage by passage through the Sermon on the Mount and drawing Christian living principles from it.

As one might expect from a character such as Bonhoeffer, he wastes no words and stands firmly on his points. In the very first chapter he makes his distinction between the “cheap grace” he sees as a significant problem in the church and the “costly grace” that is consistent with the Bible.

“Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate,” Bonhoeffer wrote. “Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has … such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it call us to follow Jesus Christ.”

Bonhoeffer presents some controversial ideas, and it is certainly a book that will make you think. I read it with a notebook on one side and a Bible on the other, following along with his logic and writing down quotes. Some were marked with an all-capital “THIS” and others with question marks and concerns. Some stand on their own. All that to say, the book is well worth your time.

For the rest of the review…

Breakfast with Bonhoeffer is Jon Walker’s third book based on the life and works of German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His previous books are Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” (2010) and In Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s Classic Work “Life Together” (2011).

Chapter three of Breakfast with Bonhoeffer is titled, “Double-Minded”.  Below are some quotes from the chapter…

…This morning Bonhoeffer reminds us that as long as we live with our delusions, we hinder ourselves from engaging the Kingdom of Heaven in the now (40).

…This cheap grace, Bonhoeffer says, “is the preaching of forgiveness with requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate” (41).

…we’re like an obese man who can understand the need to exercise, talk about exercise, and even plan to exercise, but who does not actually begin to exercise. It does him no good (42).

…When we aren’t focused on what is real–on Kingdom reality–it’s like we have bipolar faith. We swing from belief to unbelief, from hot to to cold without ever being either. Jesus says our lukewarm faith makes him want to puke (46).

…I borrow this question from Dallas Willard, who asks in his book, The Divine Conspiracy: Have you ever considered that Jesus is the smartest man in the world? Would the very fact that we follow conventional wisdom instead of the commands of Jesus indicate that we don’t believe he is? (50).

“Here is the sum of the commandments—to live in fellowship with Christ.”

~ Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost Of Discipleship

“Not hero worship, but intimacy with Christ.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

If we love God, we hate the world; and if we love the world, we hate God. 

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 ed., 196.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“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.”

― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

Only the obedient believe. If we are to believe, we must obey a concrete command. Without this preliminary step of obedience, our faith will only be pious humbug, and lead us to the grace which is not costly. Everything depends on the first step. It has a unique quality of its own. The first step of obedience makes Peter leave his nets, and later gets out of the ship; it calls upon the young man to leave his riches. Only this new existence, created through obedience, can make possible faith possible. 

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 edition, 70.

Discipleship without Jesus Christ is a way of our own choosing. It may the ideal way. It may even lead to martyrdom, but it is devoid of all promises. Jesus will certainly reject it. 

Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship1961 edition, 64.

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