In 1937, on the threshold of Nazi Germany's war on the world, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote what turned out to be one of the most influential books of the century, The Cost of Discipleship. In it, he challenged the flabby faith and compromises of German Christians, famously writing, "When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die."
Now, seventy-three years after the book was first published, Jon Walker writes Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. Walker brings to a new generation the timeless message of Bonhoeffer against the background of today's political upheaval and societal change and what it means to those who claim to follow Christ's teachings.
Christianity Today named Bonhoeffer's book one of the ten most influential books of the twentieth century, but although the book still has a loyal readership, it has not been adequately viewed through the eyes of the twenty-first century, until now. In Costly Grace, Walker, who worked with Rick Warren for several years and recently authored Growing with Purpose (Zondervan, 2009), writes a book that will challenge contemporary teachings and lifestyles.
Grace is a foundational doctrine for Christians, yet it is one of the most misunderstood. Bonhoeffer watched as many used the doctrine of grace as an excuse to do whatever they wanted, and in response, he wrote his classic work on what it truly means to follow Jesus. We cheapen grace, he declared, when we use it to compromise our behavior or to lower the standards of God's Word. In a modern retelling of this Christian classic, Walker explains what Bonhoeffer meant when he taught that grace is free but will cost us everything.
- CLEAR CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP - This stirring book reminds us what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
- GRACE UNDERSTANDABLE - This book makes the doctrine of grace understandable and practical.
- SMALL GROUP OR CONGREGATIONAL STUDY - Following Bonhoeffer's example, Walker has anchored this book around an expository study of Matthew 5–7, including the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. As such, Costly Grace is an excellent resource for small group curriculum or congregation-wide study.
- 90-DAY DEVOTIONAL - Leafwood Publishers will release a Costly Grace devotional as well, helping readers bring these important ideas even more deeply into their personal times of prayer and study.
Jon Walker has worked closely with Rick Warren for many years, first as a writer/editor at Pastors.com, later as vice president of communications at Purpose Driven Ministries, and then as a pastor at Saddleback Church. He's also served as editor-in-chief of LifeWay's HomeLife magazine and founding editor of Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox. His articles have appeared in publications and Web sites around the world. You can learn more about his ministry at
Praise for Costly Grace
"I believe Costly Grace may be one of the most important books published during this time of economic uncertainty and world turmoil. It strips discipleship down to its essentials, where we discover again that, when we face uncertainty, our only certainty is in Jesus."
- Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life
"No one studies the life and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer without being blessed and challenged. These reflections by Jon Walker on his classic work will give you insight into the heart and mind of a man who called those who follow Christ to do nothing less than die."
- Daniel Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
"The truth of God’s grace is so powerful, so transformative, it is no surprise that it is under attack. While some settle for cheap grace and others strangle grace with legalism, Jon has written a book to focus us on the reality of God’s amazing grace. It is a book that will challenge you to look at the hard truths that lead to new joy!"
- Tom Holladay, Teaching Pastor, Saddleback Church; author of The Relationship Principles of Jesus
"Jon Walker has made one of the most important Christian classics more accessible than ever before. This book introduces Bonhoeffer’s work to a whole new generation."
- Chris Forbes, co-author of the bestselling Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits
"If you are looking for a light and entertaining read, you picked up the wrong book. But if you sense something amiss deep down in your believer’s soul, then you may find this book enormously helpful. Jon Walker mines gold from Dietrich Bonheoffer’s Cost of Discipleship and from the words of Jesus to clearly contrast impoverished ‘nominal Christianity’ with the rich depth of ‘authentic discipleship.’ Costly Grace is a striking call to actually obey Jesus! I turned the last page sobered—and hopefully even changed."
- Lynn Anderson, author of Talking Back to God: Speaking Your Heart to God through the Psalms
"Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his life, in his death, and in his writings, repudiated the ‘cheap grace’ and superficial discipleship that have infected the modern church. In Costly Grace, Jon Walker gives us a fresh and provocative perspective on becoming like Jesus the way Bonhoeffer did—and the way God intends for all authentic disciples."
- Erich Bridges, author of Lives Given, Not Taken: 21st Century Southern Baptist Martyrs
"Costly Grace is an uncomfortable, but oh so necessary, read. Jon Walker not only brings Bonhoeffer’s timeless message of the costly grace into the twenty-first century, he awakens the soul’s desire for intimacy with Christ that will change every single bit and piece of our lives."
- Mark Tabb, coauthor of Mistaken Identity and author of How Can A Good God Let Bad Things Happen?
"The Cost of Discipleship was one of the earliest books that influenced my desire as a young person to go all the way in commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, whatever the cost. I am delighted that Jon Walker has written a comprehensive reflection on Bonhoeffer’s classic work with contemporary applications from personal piety to community service and witness. Costly Grace will inspire the reader to a deeper and more authentic expression of the Christian life."
- Jerry Rankin, President Emeritus, International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention
"Dietrich Bonhoeffer has always been a hero of mine for standing up at a time when it was very inconvenient to do so, and for demonstrating how a Christian can be both strong and loving in the midst of an incredibly difficult cultural situation. As a young Christian, The Cost of Discipleship was instrumental in shaping my own faith, especially in helping me understand what it means to truly embrace the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to Jon Walker for renewing interest in this great work, and for helping believers to access its immense spiritual depth."
- Scott Chapman, Senior Pastor at The Chapel and President of Christ Together