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15 Nov 1991

The Cost of Discipleship

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer | Issue 32

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s most famous book is The Cost of Discipleship. The German title was Nachfolge, which means simply “Following” or “Discipleship.” We do not have web rights to reprint excerpts from the book, but you can read them on page 28 of both the original magazine and the reprint.

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15 Nov 1991

Who Am I

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer | Issue 32

While in prison in Berlin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote his famous poem “Who Am I” that begins, “Who am I? They tell me….”

Unfortunately we are not able to reproduce it here because we do not have web rights. You can read it in full on page 15 of the original magazine or on page 13 of the reprint.

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30 Nov 1991

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Recommended Resources

by the Editors | Issue 32

For information about Bonhoeffer’s own writings, see  Exploring Bonhoeffer’s Writings in this issue. Here Dr. Clifford Green, professor of theology and ethics at Hartford Seminary, recommends books about Bonhoeffer. For a comprehensive bibliography, see  Bonhoeffer Bibliography: Primary Sources and Secondary Literature in English by Wayne W. Floyd and Clifford J. Green (Evanston: American Theological Library Association, 1991). For information about scholarly publications and conferences, write: The Bonhoeffer Society, English Language...

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30 Nov 1991

My Friend Dietrich

by Eberhard Bethge | Issue 32

A MAN DESTINED TO FAIL, hanged as a 39-year-old, has now deeply influenced—perhaps troubled—Christianity for half a century.

The career in theology for which Dietrich Bonhoeffer was prepared opened with highly specialized works (The Communion of Saints  and Act and Being ). But then came books addressed to insiders of the church, who, like he, were fighting on the losing side in Germany (The Cost of Discipleship ). Later, the Nazis prohibited Dietrich from speaking, printing, and writing. During this time only fragments of manuscripts,...

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30 Nov 1991

Pastor Bonhoeffer

by F. Burton Nelson | Issue 32

FROM THE AGE OF 14, Bonhoeffer yearned for ministry in the church. His brothers, however, charged that the church was “a poor, feeble, boring, petty bourgeois institution.” Dietrich’s physician father wrote later: “When you decided to devote yourself to theology, I sometimes thought to myself that a quiet, uneventful minister’s life, as I knew it . . . , would really almost be a pity for you.”

Ministry in Spain and the U.S.

Despite his family’s reservations, Bonhoeffer prepared himself for ministry. At age 22, he received an appointment as...

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30 Nov 1991

Friends He Met in America

by F. Burton Nelson | Issue 32

Franklin Fisher (1906–1960)

When Dietrich Bonhoeffer arrived for the 1930–31 academic year at Union Theological Seminary in New York, he had encountered few blacks during his life. Early in his Union days, he met Franklin Fisher, a black student from Birmingham, Alabama. Fisher was assigned to the Abyssinian Baptist Church for his field work, and Bonhoeffer accompanied him there. During the spring term, Bonhoeffer helped teach a Sunday school class.  

Through Fisher, Bonhoeffer gained “a detailed and intimate knowledge of the realities of...

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30 Nov 1991

Exploring Bonhoeffer’s Writings

by Clifford Green | Issue 32

Phrases like cheap gracecostly grace , and religionless Christianity  are common coin, because they come from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s two best-known books, The Cost of Discipleship  and Letters and Papers from Prison .

But what about the rest of Bonhoeffer’s writings, now being republished in sixteen volumes in German? What else might today’s reader find stimulating and helpful?

Here are brief introductions to Bonhoeffer’s books, including many that deserve to be more widely known.

The Communion of Saints (1927)

His first two works, both...

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30 Nov 1991

Radical Resistance

by Richard V. Pierard | Issue 32

MOST GERMANS welcomed Adolf Hitler’s appointment as German chancellor (prime minister) on January 30, 1933. Few were more jubilant than Protestant church leaders. They welcomed the possibility of a national regeneration.

The dean of the Magdeburg Cathedral exulted in the Nazi flags prominently displayed in his church. “Whoever reviles this symbol of ours is reviling our Germany,” he declared. “The swastika flags around the altar radiate hope—hope that the day is at last about to dawn.”

Some churchmen even referred to the “turning point in...

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30 Nov 1991

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Christian History Timeline

by the Editors | Issue 32

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life

1906:  Feb 4:  Dietrich and twin sister, Sabine, born in Breslau

1912:  Bonhoeffers move to Berlin

1913:  Dietrich enters grammar school after early years of home schooling

1918:  Oldest brother, Walter, killed in World War I

1920:  At 14, decides he will be a theologian

1921:  Confirmed at Grunewald Church, Berlin

1923:  Begins theological studies at Tübingen University

1924:  Travels to Rome and North Africa with brother Klaus; Begins studies at Berlin University

1927:  Receives licentiate in theology, summa cum laude ;...

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30 Nov 1991

Bonhoeffer’s Costly Theology

by John D. Godsey | Issue 32

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER first became widely known not for his thought but for his actions. He was talked about as the German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was executed by the Nazis for resisting the racial and military policies of Hitler’s totalitarian regime. Only gradually did the church and world become aware of the rich theological legacy of this modern Christian martyr.

In May of 1924, Bonhoeffer had just completed a year of theological studies at Tübingen. That fall he began studies at Berlin University, including seminars under...

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30 Nov 1991

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Gallery of Family, Friends, & co-Conspirators

by F. Burton Nelson | Issue 32

Karl & Paula Bonhoeffer 
(1868–1948) (1874–1951)

Distinguished parents

Dr. Karl Bonhoeffer was a prominent neurologist and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Berlin. In addition, he served as director of the psychiatric and neurological clinic at the Charite Hospital Complex in Berlin. Trained in the disciplines of science, he encouraged in his children self-reliance, control, independence, and objectivity. He was not at all enthused when Dietrich decided as a boy to become a minister and theologian. 

Paula Bonhoeffer was...

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30 Nov 1991

Daring Thoughts

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer | Issue 32

THE CHURCH WAS SILENT when it should have cried out.

Christ kept himself from suffering till his hour had come, but when it did come he met it as a free man, seized it, and mastered it . . . We are not Christ, but if we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s largeheartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes . . .

In a letter from prison to his fiancee, Maria:  It would be better if I succeeded in writing to you only of my gratitude, my joy, and my happiness in having you and in...

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30 Nov 1991

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: From the Editor — A Spiritual Tonic

by Ken Curtis | Issue 32

THIS ISSUE marks only the second time Christian History has featured a twentieth-century figure. (The first was Issue 7 on C.S. Lewis)

I happily acknowledge a long-standing debt to Bonhoeffer. During my seminary days, in the midst of an overly smug orthodoxy, his writings motivated me to keep on with the theological quest. At a practical level, his forthright explications of “cheap grace” and “religionless Christianity” helped make sense of the church in today’s world.

It seems that about every five years, Bonhoeffer has provided a needed...

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30 Nov 1991

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Did You Know?

by Mark and Barbara Galli | Issue 32

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER was a twin. (He was born just before his twin sister, Sabine.)

Dietrich’s father, Karl, was Berlin’s leading psychiatrist and neurologist from 1912 until his death in 1948.

Dietrich was so skilled at playing the piano that for a time he and his parents thought he might become a professional musician.

At 14, Bonhoeffer announced matter-of-factly that he was going to become a theologian.

Bonhoeffer earned his doctorate in theology when he was only 21.

Though later he was an outspoken advocate of pacifism, Bonhoeffer was an...

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30 Nov 1991

Barth and Bonhoeffer

by Dr. John D. Godsey | Issue 32

SWISS THEOLOGIAN KARL BARTH (1886–1968) rocked the world of theology when he published his commentary on Romans in 1919. His focus on God as truly God and his return to Scripture “destroyed the older liberalism, ” in one scholar’s words. Later, Barth helped draft the Barmen Declaration (1934) that declared the true German church could never give ultimate allegiance to the Nazi state.

How much did Barth influence Bonhoeffer, who was twenty years younger?

Bonhoeffer studied theology at the great liberal faculties of Tübingen and Berlin. At...

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30 Nov 1991

The Life and Death of a Modern Martyr

by Dr. Geffrey B. Kelly | Issue 32

IN 1942, Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer sent a Christmas gift to his family and his friends who were involved in a plot to kill Hitler. It was an essay, titled “After Ten Years.” In it, Bonhoeffer reminded his coconspirators of the ideals for which they were willing to give their lives. In his words: “We have for once learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled—in short, from the perspective of those who...

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15 May 2007

Following Jesus in the Dark

by John G. Stackhouse, Jr. | Issue 94

Using torture to interrogate suspected terrorists. Intervening in other countries to stop genocide. Resolving ancient disputes and modern violence in the Middle East. Blowing the whistle on corporate crime. Restraining a rogue state. Confronting the crack dealers across town—or down the street.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has become the patron saint of hard cases, a guide to the ethically perplexed, an inspiration in a dilemma, a beacon in moral murk. His participation in a conspiracy to murder Hitler and his subsequent imprisonment and execution...

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Products

  • Bonhoeffer set of 3 $29.99

    Bonhoeffer set of 3

    • DVD
    • 3 DVDs
    • 300 Minutes
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    • Christian History Institute

    Bonhoeffer Collection: set of 3 DVD: Bonhoeffer Agent of Grace, Bonhoeffer: Hanged on a Twisted Cross, Bonhoeffer: Memories and Perspectives

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  • Malcolm Muggeridge's:  A Third Testament $23.99

    Malcolm Muggeridge's: A Third Testament

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    • 350 Minutes/ 5 hours 50 Minutes
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    • 1974
    • Nielsen-Ferns and Time-Life Films

    A Third Testament is the highly praised television documentary presented by noted author and Christian apologist, Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), originally aired in 1974. This revealing documentary profiles six famous and unique men whose search for God forms a kind of modern testament to the reality of Christ.

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  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Memories And Perspectives $15.99

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Memories And Perspectives

    • DVD
    • 90 Minutes
    • Documentary
    • All
    • 1983
    • Bain Boehlke, Gerald Drake

    For those who want a close and intimate portrait of Bonhoeffer. This video follows the life of the martyred theologian as vividly recalled by those closest to him: his friends, family, and students. Included are Bonhoeffer family photographs that have never been shown before.

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  • Hanged On A Twisted Cross: Dietrich Bonhoeffer $15.99

    Hanged On A Twisted Cross: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    • DVD
    • 120 Minutes
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    • 1996
    • Lathika International Film and Entertainment Inc.

    his gripping documentary narrated by Ed Asner captures the life, times, and thought of Bonhoeffer. Using rare archival footage, documents, and visits to original locations, we get an intimate portrait of a man whose life and writings grow in their influence and speak powerfully to issues of our own day some 50 years later. combating unrestrained evil?

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  • Bonhoeffer: Agent Of Grace $12.99

    Bonhoeffer: Agent Of Grace

    • DVD
    • 90 Minutes
    • Drama
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    • 1999
    • NFPteleart/Norflicks/ORB

    The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German clergyman of great distinction, who actively opposed Hitler and the Nazis. His convictions cost him his life.

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