Cheap grace.

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reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
“Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of his grace! That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy, [for] which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

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 a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

--Deitrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, pp. 44-45.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
In the body of Jesus Christ God is united with humanity, all of humanity is accepted by God, and the world is reconciled with God. In the body of Jesus Christ God took upon himself the sin of the whole world and bore it. There is no part of the world, be it never so forlorn and never so godless, which is not accepted by God and reconciled with God in Jesus Christ. Whoever looks on the body of Jesus Christ in faith can no longer speak of the world as if it were lost, as if it were separated from Christ.
- Bonhoeffer, “Grundfragen einer christlichen Ethik,” in Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke, vol. 10 (Munich: Christian Kaiser Verlag, 1991), 53.

Understood in this light, what he's calling people to is sort of an exercise in the realization of what Christ has accomplished for all humanity. It's not the Reformed concept that faith cannot truly exist without works - that a man united to Christ will produce good works that Christ produces.

That's always the troubling thing about neo-Orthodox writings. On the surface they speak to Biblical truths until you get behind them and realize that grace has been redefined as something we all possess and must exercise.
 
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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2016/bonhoeffer-reliable-guide/

I read the above recently with regard to Bonhoeffer. It notes:

"CHEAP GRACE

‘Cheap grace’ is one of the distinctive phrases of Bonhoeffer. He uses it as a challenge to the antinomian position of those who think that because they believe in Jesus they can live the way they like and yet all their sins will be forgiven. His emphasis is good in one sense, but it is not a helpful term. The implication is that what changes grace from being cheap to being costly is our obedience and sacrifice. However the expensive nature of grace is not increased by anything we do. Grace is not cheap because it cost God the death of His Son. Thus, although it is free to us, it is very expensive to Christ. God requires good works of us but it is His irresistible grace in our lives which transforms us so that we cannot but produce good works."

"THE CROSS

For evangelicals the cross is at the centre of their faith. Bonhoeffer did not believe in substitutionary atonement – Christ suffering as a substitute for our sins, dying in our place to earn eternal life for us. The cross of Christ certainly is important to him, but in a very different way – it is as an example and an inspiration. He is concerned that we live cross-centred lives and by that he means that we take up our cross and follow Christ, living lives of self-denial. Yes, as with Barth, there is a great emphasis on grace, but the idea of Christ as the Lamb of God taking away our sins by his suffering hell for us is missing. To evangelicalism that is a critical omission. Indeed Bonhoeffer would argue that we are saved by the incarnation – Christ taking our nature – rather than by His atoning death. He taught that in the body of Jesus Christ, God is united with humanity, all of humanity is accepted by God, and the world is reconciled with God. In the body of Jesus Christ, God took upon Himself the sin of the whole world and bore it."
 

reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
Rich and Afterthought,

Thanks for posting your insights. I fully agree as to Bonhoeffer's neo-orthodoxy, and realize that he took quite an alternate view of the Cross. Those concerns crossed my mind as I posted, and so I quite take your (collective) point.

It raises a question, though: may we, as confessionally reformed Christians, utilize Bonhoeffer in our teaching and/or preaching? Holding firmly to the gospel, and giving faithful exposition and appropriate cautions, are we able to eat the fish and spit out the bones in those who are less evangelically-faithful, so to speak?

I am loathe to lose so compelling and cogent a contrast as Bonhoeffer presents here.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Rich and Afterthought,

Thanks for posting your insights. I fully agree as to Bonhoeffer's neo-orthodoxy, and realize that he took quite an alternate view of the Cross. Those concerns crossed my mind as I posted, and so I quite take your (collective) point.

It raises a question, though: may we, as confessionally reformed Christians, utilize Bonhoeffer in our teaching and/or preaching? Holding firmly to the gospel, and giving faithful exposition and appropriate cautions, are we able to eat the fish and spit out the bones in those who are less evangelically-faithful, so to speak?

I am loathe to lose so compelling and cogent a contrast as Bonhoeffer presents here.

If Paul could quote pagan poets, I'm sure with proper caution the bones can be spit out and we can all benefit from the meat.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
It raises a question, though: may we, as confessionally reformed Christians, utilize Bonhoeffer in our teaching and/or preaching? Holding firmly to the gospel, and giving faithful exposition and appropriate cautions, are we able to eat the fish and spit out the bones in those who are less evangelically-faithful, so to speak?

I am loathe to lose so compelling and cogent a contrast as Bonhoeffer presents here.
I pointed out his neo-orthodoxy to make people aware of this and that he's to be read with caution.

I've taken quite a bit of heat in the past for doing this. He's seen as a hero by many. I shared some concerns on Facebook in a "Christian" group and was accused of caring more about theology and how dare I tear down someone who gave his life for Christ.

That said, I think being drawn in to him too much is dangerous in the same way a Barth is dangerous.

I think we're all prone to error and seeing things improperly in the Christian faith. I think the Puritan/Reformed concept of the mind, affections, and will comprehensively provides the understanding, zeal, and action that the Christian faith requires as you read the Scriptures. I think that we can also be prone to forget or neglect one of those aspects so that we focus on the knowledge and it does not inflame our affections or impel us to service. Alternatively, we can focus on social justice and love of neighbor and be unconcerned about doctrine because others share our zeal to help the needy.

In other words, Boenhoffer can speak in Christian terms because he is working with Christian language but he's viewing the Christian life obliquely from a Kantian vantage point. He knows enough from the Scriptures that grace somehow requires Christ and that the call of the Kingdom is to lay down your life. Everything he says is good as far as it goes until you zoom out and discern what he's really getting at from his vantage point.

Said another way, Boenhoffer can describe something correctly and use his rhetorical gifts to describe something well that many different religionists (Roman Catholics, Methodists, Reformed, Mormons) would agree with him - as far as it goes. It's when each defines grace that we would see what each took away from it. We could find fault with a "reader response" - doesn't it matter more what the author intends by the words than how I can benefit from them? That said, we can safely read the newspaper because a reporter can give us a perspective of an event and we regularly have to do the work to see the event through a different lens based on the information provided.
 
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