Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together

David Schrock | August 24, 2015

On the shelf, Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Togetherlooks like a tame textbook about Dietrich Bonhoeffer as theological educator. On the inside, though, Paul House has written a compelling critique of modern theological education and a case for pastoral training that’s best described as “life together.”

As House, professor of Old Testament at Beeson Divinity School, explains in the preface, Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision comes from a melding of his appreciation for Bonhoeffer and his experience in the academy. Accordingly, he brings to the project many questions related to the current state of theological education. His book, therefore, is much more than another Bonhoeffer biography. It’s a historical investigation for the sake of contemporary application.

From the outset, House’s approach may be perceived as precarious. For historical purists, he runs the risk of bending data to fit his own concerns. For theological educators, his method of retrieval may seem obscure or unimportant compared with contemporary practices. Yet for those with ears to hear, his book sheds light on Bonhoeffer even as it cross-examines today’s pedagogical methods.   

Bonhoeffer as Theological Educator 

After completing his second doctorate in 1930, Bonhoeffer began teaching theology at the University of Berlin in 1931. He was…

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