In 1937 German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote what has become a Christian classic book, "The Cost of Discipleship." In it he draws inspiration from Jesus' sermon on the mount. One of the most quoted parts of the book deals with the distinction which Bonhoeffer makes between "cheap" and "costly" grace. According to Bonhoeffer, "cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, ultimately - grace without Jesus Christ."
Cheap grace", Bonhoeffer says, is to hear the gospel preached as follows: "Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness." The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship. In contrast to cheap grace, "costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'"
Bonhoeffer who was a supporter of an anti-Hitler conspiracy was executed at Flossenbürg on April 9, 1945, just 2 weeks before this Nazi concentration camp was liberated by the US Army. In resisting "cheap grace," Bonhoeffer died for his resistance to the Nazi cause and its leader.
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