Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Review: The Cost of Discipleship

The Cost of Discipleship
Author: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I have now tried to write this blog 3 times...each time it gets erased somehow...I wonder if that is a sign.

The Overview: 
Dietrich...I am pretty sure he could have been a might fine mathematician because most of this book feels like one large proof to me. He is wise and thoughtful...that is for sure.
The Good: 
Even though this book was first published in 1937, I was surprised at how applicable it still felt for a 2011 Christian. He really emphasized the idea of "Costly Grace"...the grace that results in a life change and not just a few free words. I really liked how he went through the Beatitudes and made them a little more impactful (I don't think that is a word) with his particular form of passion for Christ.
The Bad: 
I am quite certain I only actually understood about 1/3 of what I was reading. If I were to describe this book in one word it would be heady...but it is good to read hard things...right? I think actually comprehending would've had more of a positive effect, but hopefully I gleaned a few morsels of wisdom.
The Memorable: 
Chapter 14 is the only chapter I dog-eared and then highlighted the I am guessing I was a big fan. Here is talks about the in the world/not of the world idea:
"We are therefore confronted with a paradox. Our activity must be visible, but never be done for the sake of making it visible...That which is visible must also be hidden. The awareness on which Jesus insists is intended to prevent us from reflecting on our extraordinary position. We have to take heed that we do not take heed of our own righteousness. Otherwise the 'extraordinary' which we achieve will not be that which comes from following Christ, but that which springs from our own will and desire."
Throughout the book, he takes the position of "Why not? It is for our own good." Which is so true, but often hard to remember. The harships...well, that seems hard. The mercy...seems like something we should deserve (to our selfish brains). The sacrifices...that seems like something everyone else should be required to endure, but not us. Dietrich is pretty blunt about it all. We signed up...we carry the cross, not because it is easy, but because it is good.
Here is another quote I liked: 
"If when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. But if we are on the look-out for evil in others, our real motive is obviously to justify ourselves, for we are seeking to escape punishment for our own sins by passing judgment on others, and are assuming by implication that the Word of God applies to ourselves in one way, and to others in another. All this is highly dangerous and misleading. We are trying to claim for ourselves a special privilege which we deny to others."
The Recommendation:  
This book was good...but it took me a super long time to finish it. I wasn't super stoked about picking it up, but there were little gems of wisdom to be found every time I did. Game? Go for it...heady is good once and awhile, but if you aren't up for the challenge then don't feel bad.


chelsea said...

i wish that i took the time to read as much as you have been. but right now i'm reading emily's book, and it's GOOD.

Ben Schnell said...

I'm game. Thanks for the helpful review