Suffering Christ's call: Discipleship and the cross

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Abstract

In this article I explore and reflect upon some neglected themes in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s account of Christian discipleship. In particular, I attend to Bonhoeffer’s claim that the life of the disciple always and necessarily involves suffering. In the first half of the article, I set out a number of themes in Bonhoeffer's 1937 Discipleship, focusing especially on his emphasis upon the priority of Christ's call over our attempts to understand and negotiate this call. In the second half of the article, I turn to the Episcopalian theologian William Stringfellow to expand upon Bonhoeffer's understanding of discipleship. I use insights from Stringfellow's memoir A Second Birthday to explore how pain (at least sometimes) opens us up to God's grace. Finally, I suggest that Bonhoeffer and Stringfellow together provide the basis for a rich theology of suffering, that is, for a recognition of how suffering – even while meaningless in itself – can be a place where God is present and forming us as disciples.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalThe Bonhoeffer Legacy: Australasian Journal of Bonhoeffer Studies
Volume3
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2016

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