Dietrich Bonhoeffer is best known for his role in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and his subsequent execution at the hands of the Nazis. However, most of us are less familiar with his tireless work educating seminary students for a life of pastoral ministry—a role that occupied him for most of his adult life. Anchored in a variety of influential lectures, personal letters, and major works such as The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, this book attempts to recover a largely unexamined part of Bonhoeffer’s life, exploring his philosophy and practice of theological education in his original context. It then builds on this foundation to address the drift toward increasingly impersonal educational models in our own day, affirming the value of personal, face-to-face seminary education for the health of pastors and churches.
“Bonhoeffer refused to let the church be treated as an abstract concept. He did not accept any view of the church that allowed it to be invisible or inactive. To him the church will always be the body of Christ on earth until Jesus comes again.” (Page 98)
“Active helpfulness is the second act of service he recommends.” (Page 131)
“To them he replies that the Bible does not fulfill their request for certainty, ‘because it [the Bible] is not intended to be an insurance policy for our paths, which may become dangerous. The Bible does only one thing: it calls us to faith and obedience in the truth that we know in Jesus Christ. Scripture points not to our paths but to the truth of God’ (420).” (Page 155)
“Every personality cult that bears the mark of the distinguished qualities, outstanding abilities, powers, and talents of an other, even if these are of a thoroughly spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community of faith; indeed, it poisons the community’ (106).” (Page 133)
“Bonhoeffer’s third goal was to have a seminary that provided a visible example of the body of Christ.” (Page 140)