Dietrich Bonhoeffer, cheap grace, and tough religion

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Much has been said lately about how to do evangelization. I’ve contributed a bit to that myself. Now I begin to think that, instead of always stressing niceness, it might be good to give tough religion a try.That idea was inspired by a reading of Eric Metaxas’s biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian and pastor executed by the Nazis near the end of World War II for  involvement in the plot against Hitler. Metaxas’s book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Thomas Nelson), is a tad too worshipful for my taste, but it contains a wealth of information about this iconic religious figure of the 20th century and, best of all, quotes generously from his writing.

As in this description of what he found while doing post-doctoral studies in the early 1930s at Union Theological Seminary in New York: “In New York they preach about virtually everything, only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life.”

As that suggests, Bonhoeffer, an intellectual from a well-off, highly cultured family, was no wimp. Welcomed back to New York in 1939 before the outbreak of hostilities, he could have spent the war there safe and secure. But he chose to return to Germany in the conviction that he belonged with his people during what he knew would be their darkest hour.

For the rest of the article from The Catholic World Report…