Author Topic: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer  (Read 3159 times)

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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
« on: September 09, 2009, 03:06:30 AM »
Has anyone read The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer? I read this book many years ago when I was still a Protestant. What an amazing book, and what an amazing man! I'm interested to read reviews, thoughts, and opinions of this book from an Orthodox perspective.

Here is an excerpt from the book where Bonhoeffer compares "cheap grace" with "costly grace."

Selam

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Costly Grace


CHEAP GRACE is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting to-day 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. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

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 doc trine 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.

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. "All for sin could not atone." The world goes on in the same old way, and we are still sinners "even in the best life" as Luther said. Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world's standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin. That was the heresy of the enthusiasts, the Anabaptists and their kind. Let the Christian beware of rebelling against the free and boundless grace of God and desecrating it. Let him not attempt to erect a new religion of the letter by endeavoring to live a life of obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ! The world has been justified by grace. The Christian knows that, and takes it seriously. He knows he must not strive against this indispensable grace. Therefore--let him live like the rest of the world! Of course he would like to go and do something extraordinary, and it does demand a good deal of self-restraint to refrain from the attempt and content himself with living as the world lives. Yet it is imperative for the Christian to achieve renunciation, to practice self-effacement, to distinguish his life from the life of the world. He must let grace be grace indeed, otherwise he will destroy the world's faith in the free gift of grace.

Let the Christian rest content in his worldliness and with this renunciation of any higher standard than the world. He is doing it for the sake of the world rather than for the sake of grace. Let him be comforted and rest assured in his possession of this grace--for grace alone does everything. 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 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.

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a world of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace 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."
« Last Edit: September 09, 2009, 03:09:47 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus »
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2009, 11:20:27 AM »
Bonhoeffer's life is certainly one to take note of:  a fierce opponent to the Nazis, he paid for it with his life.  His books are often given great acclaim by Lutheran "theologians" of today, but the truth is the man was a heretic, even by Lutheran standards of the time he was living.  He denied key doctrines such as an actual resurrection of Christ, the virgin birth, etc. preferring to regard such things as merely symbolic.
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Offline Papist

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Re: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2009, 01:46:33 PM »
Bonhoeffer's life is certainly one to take note of:  a fierce opponent to the Nazis, he paid for it with his life.  His books are often given great acclaim by Lutheran "theologians" of today, but the truth is the man was a heretic, even by Lutheran standards of the time he was living.  He denied key doctrines such as an actual resurrection of Christ, the virgin birth, etc. preferring to regard such things as merely symbolic.
I had no idea that he denied these things. Do you have a sources on this?
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2017, 06:24:49 PM »
I wonder what the "sin" was that Bonhoeffer had in mind when he wrote these lines:
Quote
Bonhoeffer presumably knew about various 1943 plots against Hitler through Dohnányi, who was actively involved in the planning.[29] In the face of Nazi atrocities, the full scale of which Bonhoeffer learned through the Abwehr, he concluded that "the ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to live."[30] He did not justify his action but accepted that he was taking guilt upon himself as he wrote "when a man takes guilt upon himself in responsibility, he imputes his guilt to himself and no one else. He answers for it... Before other men he is justified by dire necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience, but before God he hopes only for grace."[31] (In a 1932 sermon, Bonhoeffer said: "the blood of martyrs might once again be demanded, but this blood, if we really have the courage and loyalty to shed it, will not be innocent, shining like that of the first witnesses for the faith. On our blood lies heavy guilt, the guilt of the unprofitable servant who is cast into outer darkness."[32])
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer#Abwehr_agent
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 06:25:39 PM by rakovsky »
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