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  • Darrell Stetler II

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's View of Discipleship


Dietrich Bonhoeffer's view of discipleship in the local body of Christ

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian and pastor, had a unique view of discipleship that emphasized the communal aspect of following Jesus. He believed that discipleship is not just about personal spiritual growth, but also about the formation of a community of believers who live out their faith together.


Bonhoeffer's theology was shaped by his experiences in Nazi Germany, where he witnessed the failure of German Christianity to resist the Nazi regime. He believed that the German Church had become too closely aligned with the state and had lost sight of its true mission, which was to proclaim the gospel and make disciples. In response, Bonhoeffer called for a return to the biblical understanding of the Church as a community of faith, committed to following Jesus and living out his teachings in the world.


Discipleship and "costly grace"

One of the key aspects of Bonhoeffer's view of discipleship is the concept of "costly grace". He believed that grace is not something that is freely given without any effort or sacrifice on the part of the believer. Instead, he believed that true grace comes with a cost, and that true discipleship involves following Jesus even when it is difficult or uncomfortable. He believed that the local church is the place where individuals can learn to live out this costly grace in the context of a community of believers.


Bonhoeffer also believed that true discipleship involves a commitment to living out one's faith in the world. He believed that the church should not be a separate entity from the world, but rather that it should be actively involved in working to bring about social and political change. He believed that the local church is the place where individuals can learn to live out their faith in the world and make a difference in their community.


How Bonhoeffer thought the churches could facilitate discipleship

One of the key ways that Bonhoeffer believed that the local church can foster discipleship is through small community groups. He believed that these groups provide a space for individuals to share their struggles and victories, to be accountable to one another, and to learn to live out their faith in the context of a community of believers. He believed that these groups should be focused on the study of the Bible and prayer and should be led by mature believers who can serve as examples and guides for the others.


Bonhoeffer and the value of servant leadership for discipleship

Bonhoeffer's view of discipleship also emphasizes the importance of servant leadership. He believed that true leadership is not about power or control, but rather about serving and empowering others. He believed that the local church is the place where individuals can learn to lead as Jesus did, by serving others and putting the needs of others before their own. He believed that the local church should be a place where individuals can learn to lead by serving and empowering others, which helps to build a strong and united body of believers.


Discipleship and active resistance to evil in the world

Bonhoeffer's understanding of discipleship also involves a strong emphasis on the practice of community and active resistance to the forces of evil. He believed that the Church is called to be a counter-culture, a community of believers who live differently from the world around them. He believed that the local church is the place where individuals can learn to resist the forces of evil and to live in the way of Jesus.


Summary of discipleship in Bonhoeffer's view


In summary, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's view of discipleship emphasizes the importance of the local body of believers in a church and the role they play in helping individuals grow in their faith. He believed that true discipleship is only possible within the context of a community of believers, and that the local church is the place where individuals can learn to live out their faith in the context of a community of believers. He believed that discipleship involves a commitment to living out one's faith in the world, servant leadership, small community groups focused on the study of the Bible and prayer, and the active resistance to the forces of evil.



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