How the Church Cheapens Grace

Saturday Afternoon Musings

Bonhoeffer imageIt’s not a biography. It’s not a novel. It is partly both. It’s a series of imagined conversations that Bonhoeffer could have had, based on his books, and papers, sermons, and interviews with those who knew him written by a writer who respects and wants to honor his legacy.

[Thanks to Darlene Cooke for alerting me to the book and copying this quote. I can’t wait to read the entire book.]

I mean that even in the evangelical Church we tend to think of Jesus’ commands as historical artifacts, as sayings to be admired rather than obeyed without question. Most importantly, we fail to recognize them as commands at the precise moment at which the command is applicable. If we miss that moment, we’ve also missed our opportunity to obey that command. It has become almost second nature for us as a Church to put things off, to study things to death, and then analyze the results of our indecision and disobedience. And all along we think that God is forgiving us. We are operating under a fallacy of cheap grace, thinking that we can bargain with God about our response.”

in Radical Integrity, by Michael Van Dyke

That is exactly the kind of thing you will read in Bonhoeffer.

You will read it in The Cost of Discipleship.
You will read it in Letters and Papers from Prison.
You will read it The Collected Sermons of Bonhoeffer.
You will read it in Ethics.
You will read it perhaps most clearly in Life Together.

It is the kind of thing that saturates his thought—obedience to the commands of Christ is the only way not to cheapen the grace of Christ.

The changing cultural climate, the demise of the Judeo-Christian consensus, an unhindged Supreme Court, the rise of authoritarian political correctness,—all of these are going to continually put pressure on Christians to obey the commands of Christ which clash with cultural perceptions and prejudices.

But here’s what Jesus continues to say. And here’s what Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew all too well.

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me, and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to Him.

John 14:21 (NASB Update)

Zombies; Purpose of the Supreme Court; Divorcing for Unhappiness; Homosexuality and the Gospel; Reconsidering Blue Like Jazz and much more

Weekend Links

Some very interesting links here including a blog post from the leader of my new favorite band of the moment (Gungor). The link to Carl Trueman’s thought provoking and penetrating post on Multi-site churches and the whole Multi-site phenomenon is something that could only be written now, i.e. after the experiment in Multi-site had reached some level of development.

Initial critiques of most things tend to be reactionary and, usually, unhelpful. They are often too full of fear of the unknown or defensive posturing by those who simply feel that all innovation is somehow a critique or devaluing of more traditional patterns. It takes time and thought, and reflection and more thought, not to mention a good eye for grammar and how words work to write the kind of educated critique that Trueman writes in “Multi-site, Poker Tells and the Importance of Presence.”

As always, I don’t endorse all of what is said in any of these links but find all of them helpful in stretching and improving my own thinking. Enjoy.

Abandoned Backup Power Station in Sweden

Engaging with Culture

Darwin Slayer (Michael Behe via Marvin Olasky)
Homosexuality, Christianity and the Gospel (J.D. Greear)
A Review of BLUE LIKE JAZZ with some Historical Perspective (Out of the Horse’s Mouth)

Leading and Living Better

Where Men are Better than Women (Leadership Freak)
Should I Divorce My Spouse If I’m Miserable? (Russell Moore)
Helping Seminarians Become Great Preachers (From The Well)
How to Build or Rebuild Trust (Michael Hyatt)
Thinking Better About Multi-Site – The Poker Tell and the Importance of Presence (Carl Trueman)
The Supreme Court’s Job is to Protect the Country from Unbridled Democracy (Daniel J. Mitchell)


Zombies, Wine and Christian Music: The Fakiness of some Christian Music (Michael Gungor)
And the Winner Isn’t (New York Times Opinion page)

Defending the Faith

The Most Difficult stumbling Block for Christianity (Philip Yancy)
Proof that God is Good: “Suffered Under Pontius Pilot” (Christianity Today)