Book Review: THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If you know anything at all about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, you know that he was a man who lived what he believed. He was also the sort of fellow whose biography far proceeds his written work, so I was disappointed, though not surprised, to find that most of the people I asked had heard of Bonhoeffer (and had, in most cases, seen the documentary Bonhoeffer, which I heartily recommend) but had never read any of his books or letters. This makes me sad, though I must admit that THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP took me three tries to actually finish (and that Letters and Papers from Prison still sits half-finished on my bookshelf), not because it was slow or boring or too dense--I think it had more to do with the fact that I just wasn't at the right point of my life to get into the book and appreciate it, though the first few chapters on "cheap grace" versus "costly grace" stuck with me for an awfully long time after each failed attempt.

This last attempt was wholly successful, and very rewarding. Bonhoeffer's examination of the Beatitudes, his no-nonsense tone as he examines what it means to be a true disciple of Christ convicted me again and again as I fairly soared through the book. I felt a bit like I was the student and Bonhoeffer my professor, who caught me gazing out the window whenever my mind started to wander and unfailingly reined me back in with a harsh (but painfully true) passage that I needed, right then, to hear.

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP does not fool around, and for that I'm quite grateful. Though it might seem a difficult read, the reward is enormous, and Bonhoeffer had my head all full of ideas and clear images of what it means to serve Christ and how I can serve better. Also, as the book goes on the chapters get shorter and shorter, though more intense, which is good for forcing the reader to pause and consider the enormity of whatever Bonhoeffer has just said (because no matter what it is, when he says it, it's enormous). I rate DISCIPLESHIP a big fat 5.


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