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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Cheap Grace and Costly Grace

Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” usually sends legalists into a frenzy of zealous works. And of course a shallow reading of the book would certainly affirm any legalistic tendencies one might have. However, a careful reading, even of the excerpt below will reveal that Bonhoeffer is no legalist. While he was thoroughly immersed in the world of Sola Gratia, Bonhoeffer does give a helpful corrective to some strains of Lutheran musings on grace. He argues that the gift of grace not only includes the forgiveness of sins, but grace also gives the new life of discipleship to the Lord Jesus. Read it carefully and read it all.

“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 inarnate.

“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for teh sake of it man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy 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.

For the rest of the article…

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