The True Cost of Discipleship

On February 4, 1906, in Breslau, Germany, Dietrich became number six of eight children born to Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer. Karl was a professor of psychiatry and neurology. Paula was a university graduate who home-schooled Dietrich while he was young. A brilliant student, Dietrich went on to become the only  Bonhoeffer ever to pursue a career in theology.

If you are a student of history, you may recognize that Dietrich lived during the rise of Hitler. As a Christian, it may seem obvious that the ethics of the Nazis and their anti-Semitism were offensive to a student of the Bible such as Dietrich. More importantly, his outspoken demeanor got him banned from teaching at the University of Berlin, so he created an underground seminary. And when the German church proved less than enthusiastic in its stand against Nazism, Dietrich helped create the Confessing Church to fight against Hitler’s Third Reich. Eventually,  Dietrich became recognized as an active force of protest against the Nazi regime.

By the 1930s, Nazi power and philosophy were in high gear, and the holocaust began as Hitler’s “final solution” against the problem of “Jewish infestation.” In an effort to thwart Hitler’s efforts, Dietrich joined a military intelligence organization and began feeding information to the resistance. By 1943,  Dietrich’s anti-Nazi resistance landed him in Tegel prison, cell 92, where he began to live out his famous words: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die” (Cost of Discipleship).

On April 9, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was stripped and hanged for his fight against Hitler and Nazi Germany in the name of Christ. More than most, he understood the true Cost of Discipleship.
  • What do you suppose it would have been like living and working under Hitler’s Nazi Germany?
  • Apparently, Bonhoeffer’s “outspoken demeanor got him banned from teaching” . . . and eventually imprisoned and even hanged. Has your desire to speak out ever got you in trouble
  • Do you think the actions of Bonhoeffer were brave, stupid, or both? Why?
  • Obviously, none of us have been martyred for our faith. And while that would be the ultimate sacrifice, certainly there are many other types of sacrifice that we can make. So, what would you say you’ve personally learned about the Cost of Discipleship?
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About Eric Wilbanks

Brand strategist. Wordsmith. Change architect. Training specialist. DiSC Certified. Family guy (hot wife and 4 cool kids). Love my Bible, guitars, baseball, and MMA.


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