The Grace That Leads to Death

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Come and Die: The grace that leads to death Costly versus cheap grace The grace that leads to death Grace that demands a response Bonhoeffer's theological intersection with Wesleyanism Grace is a word that can seem dull and lifeless in the church today due to its overuse and familiarity. Dietrich Bonhoeffer sees grace, costly grace, as the summary of the true Gospel. In Bonhoeffer's day, such costly grace had been exchanged for a cheap imitation of grace that was little more than empty religion, demanding little effort and no obedience. Bonhoeffer, who was eventually martyred, knew intimately that , “When Christ calls a man [sic], he bids him come and die.”1 For Bonhoeffer, then, death is the mark of true discipleship and is a manifestation of the appropriation of costly grace in the life of the believer. This paper will explore this thesis first by contrasting this costly grace with cheap grace. It will then make the connection between grace and death (both spiritual and physical), with particular emphasis on the ethical response required of this grace. Finally, a brief analysis will be given of points of intersection between Bonhoeffer's understanding of God and grace and contemporary Wesleyanism. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's understanding of grace developed in the particular historical context of the rise of the Third Reich to power in a Germany that had only recently been defeated in World War I and had suffered what many considered to be great humiliation as a consequence of the Treaty of Versailles. The German church, the church of Martin Luther, had come to align itself with the Hitler and the Nazi regime in the 1930's. Christianity in Germany accepted grace as only an abstract concept, which had little bearing on... ... middle of paper ... ...” he said, “and they can get something to eat with us, and then we’ll bring them right back.”12 Extending grace into the world, as Jesus did, entails death. It is death to comfort, to autonomy, and to the rights of self. In Bonhoeffer's case, his obedience led him to his own physical death. If Christ would pursue us to hell in order to save us, then our act of obedience requires an equal sacrifice, even if it leads to our own death. Costly grace demands a response, even unto death. Bibliography Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Letters and Papers from Prison. London: SCM Press, 1965. _________. The Cost of Discipleship. 1st Touchstone ed. New York: Touchstone, 1995. Metaxas, Eric. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Dallas: Thomas Nelson, 2010. Reist, Benjamin A. The Promise of Bonhoeffer,. New York: Lippincott, 1969.

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