Bonhoeffer's Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together  -     By: Paul R. House
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Bonhoeffer's Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together

Crossway / 2015 / Paperback

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Product Description

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.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 207
Vendor: Crossway
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1433545446
ISBN-13: 9781433545443

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Publisher's Description

Exploring a neglected facet of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and legacy, this book examines his work training seminary students for pastoral ministry, arguing for personal, face-to-face education in response to the rise of online education in our own day.

Author Bio

Paul R. House (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. He has been a pastor or teacher in churches, Christian colleges, and seminaries for over thirty years. He is a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature, and a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version Bible. House is the author of numerous books, including Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision.


This is the best book I have read on Dietrich Bonhoeffer the theological educator. Against great odds in the time of Nazi terror, Bonhoeffer forged a distinctive pattern of preparing faithful ministers of the gospel for the service of the church. Paul House argues convincingly that those engaged in the same work today have much to learn from Bonhoeffer's model.
-Timothy George,
Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School; General Editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture

In all the writing about Bonhoeffer, few scholars focus on his work as a seminary leader. As a result, we forget that one of his most famous works, Life Together, emerged from such a community. Paul House dares to apply this and other Bonhoeffer works to the challenges facing contemporary seminaries. Even those who ultimately disagree with House's argument for life-on-life education will benefit from reading his countercultural critique.
-Collin Hansen,
Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition

While the circumstances Bonhoeffer and his students faced are very different from the challenges facing seminaries today, Paul House illustrates why Bonhoeffer's approach to theological education and the ministry remains a model for today's seminary leaders and their students. This is a fine, thoughtful study of Bonhoeffer's approach to theological education and its implications for the complex, changing world of seminary education today.
-Victoria Barnett,
General Editor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, English Edition

Paul House not only offers a primer on an often-neglected role of Bonhoeffer's life, but also insightfully critiques much of contemporary American higher education - theological or otherwise. Reading this splendid book might not alleviate all the ills of modern higher education, but House certainly leaves educators and administrators with fewer excuses.
-Richard A. Bailey,
Associate Professor of History, Canisius College

The church in North America just passed the sign announcing dangerous rapids ahead. We need strong pulpits. What's more, we need faithful theological training. Paul House draws our attention to the courageous wisdom found in Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We know Bonhoeffer for his classic texts and for his resistance to Hitler. But he also directed a seminary. Listen to Bonhoeffer. He will help us navigate what lies ahead.
-Stephen J. Nichols,
President, Reformation Bible College; Chief Academic Officer, Ligonier Ministries

With clarity and verve, Paul House ably demonstrates, synthesizes, and applies Bonhoeffer's historic insights into theological education. The result is a timely and fresh reclamation of our life together for the church and for colleges and seminaries seeking to come alongside the church in discipling future pastors. A must read for professors, pastors, administrators, and students who want to know the what, why, and how of theological education.
-Christopher W. Morgan,
Dean and Professor of Theology, California Baptist University

Bonhoeffer's prescription for seminary training should only be followed if we want to see a generation of ministers characterized by faithfulness, courage, and community. Otherwise, we can continue in the same path we're on, where pastors learn to be entertainers, life-coaches, and pop-psychologists. Thank God that during this current revival of interest in Bonhoeffer, Paul House had the wisdom to focus on what Bonhoeffer knew best and did so very well.
-C. Ben Mitchell,
Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs and Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University

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  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Much Needed Voice in Theological Education
    December 22, 2015
    Paul Smith
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I am a passionate reader of all things Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When I first ordered this book I was not fully aware of the contents of the book, so I feel I was doubly blessed by what Paul House produced. First, this is a fine summary of two of Bonhoeffer's most important works (Discipleship, and Life Together) - and House's brevity is in itself a feat earning praise. But, second, this is an acute appraisal of the state of theological education in the United States today, and a much needed call for a serious adjustment by seminaries and theological schools who that are more interested in the "bottom line" than the formation of Christian servant-leaders.

    House has stated in far more erudite and persuasive words what I have felt for quite some time - education, and theological/discipleship education in particular, must be personal in order for it to be effective. I have worked in a university setting teaching religion, and the concept of "on-line" theological education bothers me deeply. I understand the economic benefits of such *education*, both from the university and from the students' perspectives, but theology involves far more than the transfer of data from one computer to another. What House has done is given voice to that difference in a powerful, and dare I say, eloquent, manner.

    If the reader is interested in yet another examination of the continuing benefit of the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, this book is highly recommended. If the reader is interested in the on-going discussion of the direction of theological education (particularly in the United States), this book is highly recommended. If the reader is even mildly interested in how to argue a position, this book is well worth the purchase price. Bottom line (pardon the pun) - this is a wonderful addition to serious Bonhoeffer or theological educator's library.
  2. Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Higher Education
    June 19, 2015
    Michele Morin
    Warren, Maine
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    To the already stunning list of monikers on the Dietrich Bonhoeffer resume pastor, martyr, spy, author, faithful brother Paul R. House has added another: theological educator. In Bonhoeffers Seminary Vision, the author has fulfilled the promise of his subtitle by making A Case for Costly Grace in higher theological education, but there is more on the agenda as well. I have not attended seminary (not to make a virtue of ignorance), but I found Houses book to be immensely practical on four levels:

    1.Whether or not one has read Life Together or The Cost of Discipleship, House has created a companion volume for these books (as well as some of Bonhoeffers lesser known writing), that will either serve as a guide for a first time reader or as a tool for enhanced appreciation of these classic works. Written during his five year tenure as a seminary educator in Nazi Germany (1935-1940), the principles in these practical and deeply theological works were formulated in the crucible of preparing ten separate groups of students for pastoral ministry under hostile conditions. Far from being the prototype for a Protestant monasticism in Germany, Bonhoeffers practices were a means to the end of shaping shepherds to lead communities of costly grace.

    2.For those with the delightful option of attending seminary in the future, Bonhoeffers Seminary Vision will provide an enhanced check-list for weighing the merits of various schools. The prospective student, counting the cost on every level, may find that Bonhoeffers students displayed a degree of commitment that will encourage the formation of iron in their own souls. For example, of the approximately 180 students who trained under Bonhoeffer at the seminary level, 27 spent time in prison for their faith; most were denied positions or lost existing salaries because of their association with the Confessing Churchs seminary; most were drafted and sent into the heaviest areas of fighting. A few relevant criteria to ponder based on Bonhoeffers model: Will this institution help me to become a Bible-formed pastor? Is the educational experience provided there a visible expression of the body of Christ?

    3.Individuals and churches who are influential in the formation of seminary curriculum and educational philosophy will want to give long deliberation to the questions Paul House raises and the biblical answers he suggests. He recommends that the body of Christ rethink the CEO model for pastors in favor of a shepherding leader. He questions whether the concept of distance education aided by technology can truly provide a community of faith that will result in pastoral formation. He contrasts Bonhoeffers incarnational method with the predominant industrial model of today.

    4.House, Bonhoeffer, and Zechariah the prophet have spoken, and I have been rebuked for despising the day of small things in my own ministry. One of the best things I do all week is to sit down in the church library on Sunday morning with a group of women who are there to learn the Word of God. Its a small space, so its full with a half-dozen of us, and I have wondered if my work of study and preparation is a good investment. Is this meager response, or is this an opportunity to build well into the lives of an intimate group? I am encouraged by my reading of Bonhoeffers Seminary Vision to view that time as an opportunity to participate in preserving a cross-bearing community in our harsh world through common prayer and serious study. My prayers for my students will now include the words rigorous thought and rigorous practice.

    True to Bonhoeffers vision on every level, Paul R. House advocates for a weighty and refreshing ecclesiology, supporting the truth that the training of pastors, yes but also the training of every Christian in a life of costly grace is worthy of our ultimate commitment.

    This book was provided by Crossway in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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