Bonhoeffer’s Analysis of American Religion?

The Church is Drowning in Cheap Grace

Bonhoeffer was actually aiming at the German Church leading into the rise of World War II but he might have been writing about America.

Bonhoeffer Cost of DiscipleshipI am starting on my third copy of Bonhoeffer’s, The Cost of Discipleship, having worn out two copies already. It is embarrassing to see how much I don’t know, haven’t comprehended, and failed to discern in my previous readings. That said, I’m excited about how God is going to use the book to reinvigorate my vision. Join me on the journey. 

Bonhoeffer is always challenging, always provocative, always insightful, not always right but always worthy of conversing with. These opening sentences are just the beginning. Is there any way to not indict the American Church for being one of the chief purveyors of cheap grace?

Personally, I don’t think so. And that’s why this is a worthy read. Again.

Bonhoeffer image“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.

Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. …

Cheap grace means grace as a 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. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. 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. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.”

—Deitrich Bonhoeffer,
The Cost of Discipleship, 43.

Grace was costly. Free to us does not mean free from responsibility to obey “all that He commanded” (Matthew 28:20)

3 thoughts on “Bonhoeffer’s Analysis of American Religion?

  1. “Is there any way to not indict the American Church for being one of the chief purveyors of cheap grace?”

    Yes, there does need to be some correction here in these churches. Good point.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.