Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s popularity has boomed in recent years. In all corners, he is seen as a heroic figure and/or theological innovator from whom we in the modern Church have much to learn. His death at the age of 39 robbed the 20th century of one of its great theologians, yet also enshrined him as a hero for individuals from widely disparate points on the theological spectrum. “Religionless Christianity?” Check. Attempting to murder Hitler? Check. Standing with the Church against the corruption of its doctrine or co-option by the State? Check. So on and so forth.
Today, I reflect on his hallmark idea: grace. He says it best:
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, (it is) 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…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.”