Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an amazing person who lived quite an extraordinary life. Its worth your time, if you haven’t already, to read one of the available biographies about him. I recommend Charles Marsh’s Strange Glory: The Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Though I have to admit, Bonhoeffer comes across as kind of a spoiled brat in Marsh’s telling. That makes his opposition to the Nazi’s all the more impressive though, as we see him as maturing in his life and faith to the person he became.
I stumbled across The Cost of Discipleship long before I knew anything about Bonhoeffer’s life. It is considered a spiritual classic and it truly is. From the beginning, where he contrasts cheap grace with costly grace, I was hooked. From there he expounds on the sermon on the mount. This was the first book I read, at least that I recall, that took the teachings of Jesus seriously and thus, was my first introduction to the idea of Christian nonviolence. Reading this when I first did, it shaped me in ways I certainly was not aware of at the time. It challenged me and stuck with me.
Bonhoeffer’s work on community, Life Together, deserves high praise also. Honestly, I’ve read about his other works (Ethics, Letters and Papers from Prison) and I need to dive into them one day. Sadly, his life was cut short as he died at the hands of the Nazis. It would have been amazing to have more writing from this brilliant man. What we do have is eye-opening, thought provoking and challenging.