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)

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