Welcome to our book study series on “Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This seminal work, written in the late 1930’s, represents Bonhoeffer’s critique of popular Christianity in Germany under the growing influence of the Nationalist Socialist Party. His views put him in the minority within the German church and placed him at odds with the political system. For where the ethical work of the church had increasingly become the justification of and conformation to nationalist policies and the broader German culture, “for Bonhoeffer, the primary challenge of ethical thinking [was] how to conform one’s life to the teaching of Jesus and the patterns of his life lived in obedience to his father’s will.”
Bonhoeffer’s writing is deeply rooted in the context of his time and his country, and it remains fresh and pertinent to us, three-quarters of a century later. Wherever the church is found, it is challenged by the human tendency to seek the path of least resistance, and must make a choice. It will either choose the tempting and easy path of becoming a church of the world, a church that embraces the world and its ways. Or it will choose the difficult path of becoming Christ’s church, a church that embraces Christ and pursues after Christ. This was true in the year 500, in the year 1937, and in the year 2022.
The schedule of our sessions is listed below. To aid your reading, a companion guide is provided for each chapter with some key themes, reflection questions, and other helpful information.
The following syllabus breaks out the chapters of the book that we will be covering in each session. In addition, links are provided for the chapter companion guides to assist in your reading. Our sessions will meet from 6-7:15pm, in person or online over Zoom. If you are joining over Zoom, you will find the details to the right.
Meeting ID: 280 033 1497
March 8: Preface, Costly Grace, The Call to Discipleship
Please read before our first session the Preface, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2 (Touchstone edition: Preface, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2).
March 15: Simple Obedience, Discipleship and the Cross, Discipleship and the Individual
Please read before our second session Chapter 3, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5 (Touchstone edition: Chapter 3, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5).
March 22: The Sermon on the Mount, Part 1
Please read before our third session the first half of Chapter 6, through approximately p. 140 (Touchstone edition: Chapters 6-17).
March 29: The Sermon on the Mount, Part 2, The Messengers
Please read before our fourth session the second half of Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 (Touchstone edition: Chapters 18-26). The split between Sessions 3 and 4 is a bit flexible: our goal will be to talk about the whole of the Sermon on the Mount section of the book across the 2 sessions, wherever we leave off at the end of session 3 is where we’ll pick things back up at the beginning of session 4.
April 5: Preliminary Questions, Baptism, The Body of Christ
Please read before our fifth session Chapter 8, Chapter 9, and Chapter 10 (Touchstone edition: Chapters 27-29).
April 12: The Visible Church Community, The Saints, The Image of Christ
Please read before our sixth and final session, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, and Chapter 13 (Touchstone edition: Chapters 30-32).
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