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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Book Study Thread: Bonhoeffer

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Joined: 2012/7/12
Posts: 185
Southeast USA

 Book Study Thread: Bonhoeffer

Would anyone be interested in participating in an online Book Club thread on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Cost of Discipleship"?

There are threads which address this issue.

We could read and discuss a chapter a week and align the reading with any intertextually cited scripture. Though he bases his book mostly on Matthew 5.

This would be a dream come true to reread and discuss this book with folks like you.

Pretty please?!?

I don't live in a town with a church that would be game to reading Bonhoeffer or even Spurgeon (the latter I read every night). They read all of the "prosperity gospel" malarkey like "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" by John Maxwell.

Yuck! C'mon, saints! This book is absurd. Yet, I went to a church that did a book club study on this. I joined the book club, got three chapters into the book and was heartbroken.

If only I lived in a town with a church that cares about Discipleship. Yet, the motto of this church was "We Make Disciples". No, you make worldly leaders...big difference.

 2012/7/14 14:57Profile

Joined: 2011/9/30
Posts: 1211

 Re: Book Study Thread: Bonhoeffer


I will do that with you. Let me get a copy of his book. Do you know of one that is available online? If not, I will purchase one. He was a great Christian, I just disagree with him getting involved with a group to assasinate Hitler since Jesus taught non-resistance. But, I am willing to read his justifications about what brought him to this point. It should be very enlightening since we may face worse despots in the future and many may be tempted to do the same thing as Dietrich.

I think it is interesting that one of the worst deposts ever were the Caesars and there is no record of the early church conspiring with flesh and blood weapons.

Anyway, I am getting ahead of things and I should wait till we get to that part of the book. I hope the chapters are short if you want to do one per week. :-)

Maybe SI will make another category called "Book Club".


 2012/7/14 15:05Profile

Joined: 2006/7/31
Posts: 3057


If its alright I have already been reading this book but I can start over and join in the study with you both?

Look forward to hearing others insights.

God bless

 2012/7/14 15:21Profile

Joined: 2011/9/30
Posts: 1211


Ok, I am going to get a copy of the book.


 2012/7/14 15:27Profile

 Re: Bonhoeffer: The marble man?

A martyr yes; executed for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler; but maybe a social martyr?

" Moreover, Bonhoeffer believed that the true Christian was the confessing believer who totally immersed his life in the secular world, becoming a secular Christian."

"Bonhoeffer plainly rejected such cardinal doctrines as the virgin birth, physical resurrection, and substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.

According to Bonhoeffer, it is a "cardinal error" to regard Christianity as a religion of salvation. In an article at the Way of Life web site we have documented Bonhoeffer's heresies from a 1967 edition of his Letters and Papers from Prison. (See the Modernist section of the End Times Apostasy Database ]..(discern the time )....................................................

And..."Bonhoeffer, like many good theological existentialists, would say that the resurrection of Jesus is not something that literally happened to Jesus, but rather it is something that happens to us, his disciples. “Jesus Christ has been raised in our hearts” and that “resurrection” gives significance to our existence.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, many evangelical Christians fell in love with Bonhoeffer’s writings, because they found a deep personal piety contained therein that they found attractive.

They also appreciated his courage and willingness to die for his convictions. But once again, this shows how uncritical evangelicals have become.

While we might find many statements from Bonhoeffer on such subjects as personal piety and personal ethics that we might agree with and even appreciate, those statements come packaged in a theology that should be troubling to those who take the biblical narrative seriously. [Literally].

I myself do in fact believe that the proposition “Jesus Christ is risen from the dead” is an ontologically true statement. In fact, if it were not so, I would concur with the apostle Paul that “our faith is futile.” What genuine transformative power is that proposition supposed to have if it is not ontologically true?"..[ REAL]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a neo-orthodox German theologian, pastor, preacher, radio broadcaster, and prolific writer in the 1930s and early-1940s, during the rise, rule, and downfall of Adolph Hitler.

He was greatly fascinated with neo-orthodox thought, theology, and terminology, and was greatly influenced by the major theologian of neo-orthodoxy, Karl Barth (1886-1968).

Bonhoeffer's writings are credited with helping to father the "Death of God" theology which was popularized by the Anglican Bishop John A.T. Robinson in the decade of the1960s.

Bonhoeffer was in reality a practical atheist and a religious humanist who denied virtually every cardinal doctrine of the historic Christian faith (Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge, New York: Macmillan Co., 1972, pp. 9-12).

Bonhoeffer readily acknowledged "the debt he owes to liberal theology." Declaring that it was impossible to know the objective truth about Christ's real nature and essence, Bonhoeffer proclaimed that God was dead.

Moreover, Bonhoeffer believed that the true Christian was the confessing believer who totally immersed his life in the secular world, becoming a secular Christian.

Rejecting the objective unalterable moral standards of the Bible, Bonhoeffer proclaimed a situational ethics -- that right and wrong are determined solely by the "loving obligations of the moment"

(Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge, New York: Macmillan Co., 1972, pp. 9-12, 378; Ethics, pp. 38, 186; No Rusty Swords, pp. 44-45).

I might investigate Bonhoeffer before investing so much time in him. Yes, I read the COST, many years ago, but became unsettled in his intellectual confusion centered around the simplicity of the Word as being the WORD.

He was a Mass-taking confessional who studied at Catholic monasteries and worshipped there also. He was a champion of Ecumenical-ism also. He possessed the courage to die for his beliefs, but in my view, was never a Christian at all.

 2012/7/14 16:13

 Watch what you eat!

Bonhoeffer beliefs and teachings: Documented. Watch what you eat.

He believed that "God is teaching us that we must live as men who can get along very well without Him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us."

Bonhoeffer also believed that the concept of God as a "supreme Being, absolute in power and goodness," was a "spurious conception of transcendence," and that "God as a working hypothesis in morals, politics, and science ... should be dropped, or as far as possible eliminated" (Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, pp. 122, 164, 360).

2. He believed that mankind had become of age and no longer needed religion, which was only a deceptive garment of true faith; he suggested the need for a "religionless Christianity." To Bonhoeffer, "the Christian is identified not by his beliefs, but by actions, by his participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world"

(Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, p. 163).
Thus, Bonhoeffer's final writings have given impulse to Marxist theologians sponsoring "liberation theology" and to others wishing to promote a worldly social gospel.

3. He refused to discuss the origin of Christ, His relationship to the Father, His two natures, or even the relationship of the two natures. Bonhoeffer was adamant in his belief that it was impossible to know the objective truth about the real essence of Christ's being-nature (Christ the Center, pp. 30, 88, 100-101).

4. He questioned the Virgin Birth, and in reality denied it (The Cost of Discipleship, p. 215).

5. He denied the deity of Christ; he advocated that "Jesus Christ Today" is not a real person and being, but a "corporate presence" (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 75-76; Christ the Center, p. 58).

6. He denied the sinlessness of Christ's human nature and further questioned the sinlessness of His earthly behavior (Christ the Center, pp. 108-109).

7. He believed that Christ exists in three "revelatory forms" -- as Word, as sacrament, and as church. From asserting that Christ is the church, he followed that all persons in the church are identical with Christ (Christ the Center, p. 58; The Cost of Discipleship, p. 217). This amounts to pantheism!

8. He believed that Christianity is not exclusive, i.e., that Christ is not the only way to God (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 55-56).

9. He was a prominent figure in the early ecumenical movement, as evidenced through his associations with the "World Alliance for International Friendship" (a forerunner of the apostate World Council of Churches [WCC]), Union Theological Seminary, and Visser 't Hooft (who later became the first General Secretary of the WCC) (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 22, 212, 568).
Bonhoeffer also reached out to Roman Catholics, prefiguring the broader ecumenism that blossomed after Vatican II in the mid-1960s.

10. He was a practical evolutionist (No Rusty Swords, p. 143), and believed that the book of Genesis was scientifically naive and full of myths (Creation and Fall: A Theological Interpretation of Genesis 1-3).

11. He adhered to neo-orthodox theology and terminology concerning salvation (Testimony to Freedom, p. 130), was a sacramentalist (Life Together, p. 122; The Way to Freedom, pp. 115, 153),

.. believed in regenerational infant baptism (Letters and Papers from Prison, Macmillan, pp. 142-143) as well as adult baptismal regeneration (The Way to Freedom, p. 151), equated church membership with salvation (The Way to Freedom, p. 93), and denied a personal/individualistic salvation (Letters and Papers from Prison, Macmillan, p. 156).

12. He placed little or no value on the Old Testament --"... the faith of the Old Testament is not a religion of salvation" (Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, p. 112).

13. He denied the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture, believing that the Bible was only a "witness" to the Word of God and becomes the Word of God only when it "speaks" to an individual; otherwise, it was simply the word of man/men.
(Testimony to Freedom, pp. 9, 104; Sanctorum Communio, p. 161).

To Bonhoeffer, the Bible was meant "to be expounded as a witness, not as a book of wisdom, a teaching book, a book of eternal truth" (No Rusty Swords, p. 118). He also believed in the value of higher criticism/historical criticism, which is a denial of the inerrancy and authenticity of the Bible (Christ the Center, pp. 73-74).

14. He had no faith in the physical resurrection of Christ. Bonhoeffer believed the "historicity" of the Resurrection was in "the realm of ambiguity," and that it was one of the "mythological" elements of Christianity that "must be interpreted in such a way as not to make religion a pre-condition of faith."

He also believed that "Belief in the Resurrection is not the solution of the problem of death," and that such things as miracles and the ascension of Christ were "mythological conceptions" as well (Christ the Center, p. 112; Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, pp. 93-94, 110).

Dr. G. Archer Weniger declared, "If there is wholesome food in a garbage can, then one can find some good things in Bonhoeffer, but if it be dangerous to expect to find nourishment in a garbage can, then Bonhoeffer must be totally rejected and repudiated as blasphemy. It is worse than garbage."


 2012/7/14 16:36

Joined: 2012/7/12
Posts: 185
Southeast USA

 Re: Watch what you eat!


Watch what you regurgitate.

This would all seem very convincing if one accepts noncontextual criticism of literary work.

Taken all out of context, you are right!

If you've actually read Bonhoeffer's works, not so fast!

I found the sources of many of your citations above and Claim #4 in particular, is also referenced on a Fundamentalist website called "FundamentalBaptist"

And I have my paperback copy of Bonhoeffer's "Cost of Discipleship" open to "page 215" and it says nothing about the virgin birth.

If you have a copy of the book, pls open to page 215 and you will see that it immerses you into Chapter 24 entitled, "The Suffering of the Messengers" whereby, he gives a commentary on Matthew 10: 16-25

Our diverse interpretations of this man's life all the more necessitate a need to study his book.

Why don't you join me in a book study of "The Cost of Discipleship"?



 2012/7/14 17:11Profile

Joined: 2012/7/12
Posts: 185
Southeast USA

 Online Book Club: "The Cost of Discipleship"


You all are so awesome! The criticism I've read of Bonhoeffer via SI posts has ignited a desire to reread this book.

Thank you BrotherTom and Pilgrim777!

And MaryJane is in for a life changing experience that will not result in enhanced "personal piety" but rather, catapult one's understanding of Christ's teachings about true, authentic discipleship.

If you notice, MaryJane, Bonhoeffer opens each chapter (except chapter 1) with scripture. He puts Christ words before his own.

This book promotes spiritual maturity. An incidental benefit will be in clarifying and discounting the myriad of myths, surprisingly spread about a Christian and martyr with a controversial life.

Should we give everyone a week to respond to the Online Book Club and acquire the book (link to acquire book below):

Should we start on Friday, 07/27/12 prepared to discuss the following?:


I. Introduction (5 pages)
II. Chapter One: Costly Grace (pgs. 43 - 56)


I. Discuss weekly posts to this thread (15 mins.)
I. Prepare/Share two (2) points of inquiry for the Club (30 mins.)
II. Prepare three (3) reflections on passage covered to share with Club (30 mins)


Is every Friday during a certain time convenient for everyone. Wouldn't it be great if we could meet live!?!

If not, what day and time could we meet up here to share the book?

This would be great!

Look forward to hesaring form you.



 2012/7/14 17:44Profile

Joined: 2011/7/29
Posts: 683
northern USA


QUOTE: "He was a great Christian, I just disagree with him getting involved with a group to assasinate Hitler,"==PILGRIM777

As it turns out, not really. He was actually a heretic, from what i have read of his writings and theology. And by heretic i mean that his CORE doctrines (on salvation) were a FALSE GOSPEL. My discovery of this made me quite sad, as he was quite heroic. While most other church people in Germany just sat and warmed the pews he was actually trying to do something to stop Hitler, trying to save lives, speaking out, etc. His whole family was heroic. Whether you disagree with what he did, he at least did SOMETHING.

 2012/7/14 20:48Profile


Trekker are you saying Bohoffer was not a Christian in the New Testament sense if the word? That he was not trusting in Christ for his salvstion?


 2012/7/14 21:05

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