In a recent opinion piece “Christians Offer Trump Cheap Grace”, Elizabeth Bruenig of the Washington Post quoted the Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer to support her point.
In a recent opinion piece “Christians Offer Trump Cheap Grace”, Elizabeth Bruenig of the Washington Post quoted the Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer to support her point. Rev. Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and part of the German resistance to Adolf Hitler. The quote: “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. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate.”
Christian votes gave the nation President Trump. We Christians continue to absolve Donald Trump with cheap grace. In so doing we do more than support Trump. We expose our prejudices while ignoring the moral prerogative of Jesus to judge others as we would be judged.
Too many Christians have set aside the spiritual cost accompanying the teachings of Jesus. We have cheapened our faith with our political, social and economic prejudice as we condemn ideas which seemingly “infringe” on what we think society should look like. Internalized fear has caused us to judge other ethnic groups, immigrants, religions, the role of women in society, gays, lesbians, transgenders, and political parties. President Trump was to be the Christian’s “white knight” armed with a sword of “religious purification” propagating policies which embolden our prejudices. Bonhoeffer reminds us: “Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others, we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
We Christians offer cheap grace for Mr. Trump and forget the costly grace we are to embrace or as Bonhoeffer believed: “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought.... Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it gives a man the only true life. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” He goes on: “When Christ calls [us], he bids [us] come and die.” When we Christians collude with insidious forces of hate and prejudice we lose touch with the compassion, love, tolerance, justice, death and resurrection of Jesus.
On Sunday, April 8, 1945, Bonhoeffer was arrested by the SS. As he was escorted from his church he said to another prisoner, “This is the end–for me–the beginning of life.” He was hanged shortly before the end of WWII. He understood the cost of discipleship.
May we Christians maintain a prejudice for the teachings of Jesus, embrace the doctrines of a Constitution and Bylaws on the verge of collapse. May we accept the costly bidding of Christ “to come and die” with members of our community and the world who are being systematically deported, persecuted, rejected and marginalized by society. May we insist that our “white knight” do the same.
Rev. Dr. Ira S. Williams, Jr. Retired