Dietrich Bonhoeffer: No Cheap Grace

Ron Geschwendt

READ : James 2:14-16

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? (v. 14 NIV)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) may be the best known theologian of the 20th century. His stand against a tyrannical government and ultimate martyrdom at the hands of the Nazis showed courage worthy of the best of Christ’s followers. While this bright student made no splash in academic circles, he captured the minds and hearts of people everywhere.

Christ was central in Bonhoeffer’s faith. He believed a Christian ought to live a strong and consistent faith before the world. The Christian, he argued, should put God at the heart of everything. Although Christians are made new by grace alone, they should not live irresponsibly as rich and spoiled children. Freely forgiven by Christ, out of love and gratitude, Christians honor and serve God.

Bonhoeffer demonstrated this in his own life. He remained firmly opposed to Nazism. Friends begged him in 1939 not to return to Germany. But he insisted on being with his people, unwilling to choose a place of safety. In prison he taught, encouraged friends, and aided underground conspirators. He was hanged two weeks before Hitler’s death on the charge of treason. Inscribed on a small stone in the Flossenburg prison are the words “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a witness of Jesus Christ among his brethren.”


We praise you, Lord, for the courage of the martyrs.