by Andrew L. Pate
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.~Dietrich Bonhoeffer*
Few witnesses to the Christian faith in America today face the life-threatening dangers Bonhoeffer did during Hitler's reign of terror in Germany, 1933-1945. And those who do, usually do not take the high risks Bonhoeffer took that ultimately led to his imprisonment and finally, to his hanging on April 9, 1945.
Why? Let me name three main reasons:
#1 Cheap grace abounds in our churches, clearly visible in the "prosperity gospel" so popular in the United States;
#2 Active and authentic Grace is itself more visible outside the walls of our churches than within; and
#3 - The Jesus Ethic has not been properly taught or proclaimed. When it has been, it has been either forthrightly rejected or watered-down to the point that it means little or nothing.
Unfortunately, the ascendancy of cheep grace has gone mostly unrecognized, enabling it to continue to expand and solidify, overriding an authentic witness to the living Christ.
Political affiliation has become the dominant ideology. Democrats vs. Republicans is constant warfare. Truth-seeking is reduced to opinion-stating.
On the one extreme, progressivism has so loosened morals that a true "Christlike" lifestyle is barely discernible.
On the opposite extreme, racism, sexism and greed undermine every honest attempt to speak and follow the Truth.
In both extremes, Truth, Freedom and Justice are the primary casualties.
So, where has our storied Christian faith been: irrelevant, unpreached and too seldom lived.
Vanishing soon, if not already, it is feared by many, are the heart-and soul Jesus' precepts of turning the other cheek, walking the second mile, forgiving as often as necessary and avoiding self-righteousness and the unfair judgment of others.
Here's the Good news:
The Covid-19 pandemic, as horrendous as it is, has revived Grace in the hospitals and medical facilities worldwide and boldly made America and the World more aware of how far human beings have distanced themselves from the Jesus ethic, and the morality of other faiths that closely resemble that ethic.
People are giving more and serving others more honestly, all with apparent sincerity and devotion.
For a time anyway, Christ has come alive again.
May the rebirth continue!
This is my prayer.
2nd of May 2020
*Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), martyred by the Nazis, published this volume in 1937.. It's theme, as the book's title suggests,, is that there can be and often is real pain and suffering in following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Theologians consider the book extremely important, especially in the manner it addresses the critical world issues Bonhoeffer was confronting in his life and work in Hitler's Germany.