Friday, March 02, 2007

Deitrich Boenhoffer and cheap grace

I first read The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer when I was a young new Christian. The book in paperback edition looked like a novel and that was perhaps attracted my attention and picked it up lying around our church’s library. But I admit, I never understood the book then and I’m trying to recall what this great theologian wrote in that book. I really didn’t have a chance to get back to Bonhoeffer. But here and then, I’ll find Boenhoffer’s life and thinking to be a real challenge to theology students like me. This is a man who not just thought out his theology but live it out and actually died for it.

Richard G with other theology bloggers has a blog dedicated to the work of this great theologian. I started reading it, I was hoping I could also contribute but my knowledge about this great theologian is awfully lacking. Right now, I’m content just to read and learn.

Bonhoeffer’s attacked cheap grace being marketed by evangelical churches which I think is prevailing in modern or postmodern Christianity. Under the cover of the reformation’s principle of justification by faith alone, he charged that Christians have been relieved of the obligations of discipleship.

Cheap grace means grace as doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian “conception” of God… The Church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto a part in that grace. In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin.

Boenhoffer contrast cheap grace with “costly grace”. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives man the only true life.

I always hear this idiomatic expression from the English speaking people and I don't know exactly what it means. "Put your money where your mouth is." But I guess, Bonhoeffer surely did that.

5 comments:

keropok lekor said...

Thanks for linking me and also a reminder for us to embrace 'costly grace'. It is free but never cheap.

O come to the Father
through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory
Great things He has done!
-- Fanny Crosby

Joey said...

Hi Keropok,

Thanks for the response. You're welcome! as they say here in Thai "mai pen rai". I enjoy your blog so the pleasure's mine.

Indeed, to God be the glory.

Blessings!

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