Just in Case You Do Not Recognize Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Last week I mentioned I was putting together a Lenten mailing list to offer a practice that incorporated readings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer and realized I assumed “everyone” knew who Bonhoeffer was.

If that is not the case for some, let me offer a few thoughts.

First, let me offer a link to a very good overview provided at the The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute –  “https://tdbi.org/dietrich-bonhoeffer

That page includes most of what I considered including in this post.  Allow me to point out what I find helpful.

In most circles Bonhoeffer is remembered mostly for three books – The Cost of Discipleship, LIfe Together and Letters and Papers from Prison.

In The Cost of Discipleship Bonhoeffer tells us – 

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Given how often the word “discipleship” is dropped in many religious circles today, maybe it is time to revisit Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on discipleship.  More recent translations of the book bear the title Discipleship.

The small volume, Life Together, is drawn from material for the “underground seminary” Bonhoeffer directed for pastors of the German Confessing Church.  The Confessing Church was started by Bonhoeffer and others in opposition to the Nazi control of the German churches.  The Nazi’s eventually shut down the seminary.

And, Letters and Papers from Prison, is what what the title suggests – material written by Bonhoeffer while he was imprisoned by the Nazi government.  The imprisonment ended with his execution on April 9, 1945.  Eleven days before the Flossenburg prison was liberated by the Allied armies.  Bonhoeffer was 39 years old.

He was a musician, a writer, a pastor, a theologian, a spy, and a member of the German resistance to Hitler.

Given the range of his writings, he has been claimed as a champion by evangelicals and theological conservatives as well as those who consider themselves Christian progressives and at one time the “Death of God” theologians claimed him.

During Lent we will have time to sample a small portion of the writings he left us.  May you find encouragement and blessings in these readings.


{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

PS – 

If you are interested in some more resources on the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer you could look into the following – 

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Kendrix – an excellently done graphic biography (yes, graphic, as in graphic novel), 

Two well reviewed “traditional” biographies are, 

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance by Ferdinand Schlingensiepen

And not to left out is 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography by Eberhard Bethge and Victoria J Barnett (Bethge was one of Bonhoeffer’s closest friends and associates)

And the documentary by Martin Doblmeier, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Pacifist, Nazi Resister would be a excellent way to spend an hour an half learning about Bonhoeffer

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