BONHOEFFER’S SEMINARY VISION
Author PAUL R. HOUSE
“A call for costly discipleship and life together,” sums up the thrust of this very timely and helpful book. Written by a Divinity Professor who tells us that he is not a Bonhoeffer scholar but one who has been immersed in Bible Seminary education in the USA for many years and who himself is greatly challenged by the increasing technological approaches to Seminary teaching and the subsequent absence of personal interaction both of ‘costly discipleship’ and ‘life together.’ Actually. although the book concentrates on seminary methodologies in particular, it is incredibly pertinent to what is going on in churches today. Bonhoeffer had a vision, he gave himself to serving in small Bible seminaries in a Germany that was steadily coming under the tragic spell of Hitler and his false vision. That vision was thoroughly anti Christ and from earliest days Bonhoeffer discerned the coming conflict to the death that would undoubtedly come to the German church. He understood that church is God’s community living together under the word of Christ, true disciples caring for each other, encouraging, rebuking, building each other up and living to the glory of God. He recognised that only churches living as holy communities under Christ could survive the onslaughts of wickedness and also knew that such churches necessitated pastors and leaders who themselves were living costly discipleship and life together. The concert churches of today are a million miles from this costly Christ glorifying vision. Reading Paul House’s book should provoke many to either read for the first time, or reread, both Costly Discipleship and Life Together the two famous writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. These were written in the throes of growing opposition to the Confessing Church and its ministers in Germany. Pastors and people were making choices that at bottom meant coming under the headship of the Nazi regime and the churches becoming mere pawns of Hitler or living under the Headship of Christ Jesus and possibly suffering the ultimate price as a result. These writings demand our renewed attention. Every leader should make a priority to read and measure his life and that of his church against what Bonhoeffer and House (in his turn) focuses upon. The challenge is profound and will rock the foundations of much that masquerades as church and church life today. The book by House and the two Bonhoeffer books House uses as the foundation of his reasoning will put the essential’s in place. We could say that what is being presented is the ‘ideal’ of Christian community and that we live in a busy world and thus technology, online education for pastors and ‘e church’ for Christians is necessary. But, pretty soon these lesser endeavours will swamp the ‘ideal’ and the result will be a church, no longer living under its Head, Jesus Christ but one diluted beyond almost all recognition.