Responsible Love

Self-denial and suffering in this life are the promises of Christ to His church.

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I’m not sure what to say after that. Sarcastic rants, tempting to write as they may be, are not the best choice, here.

This is not a forum for church-bashing. On the contrary, the fact that the few of us are still meeting together in some form of sporadic regularity, despite the complete loss of purpose, says much about our determination. To be honest, I’m going through a time of serious self-reflection about my own lack of faith.

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer has completely wrecked me. Anybody who is curious to know what I mean by that and feels particularly self-flagellant, by all means, read the first few chapters and tell me your thoughts, if you want. WARNING: this is not for the casual Christian bookstore literature reader.

My copy1 contains a Forward by Bishop G. K. A. Bell, a personal friend of Bonhoeffer, Memoir by G. Leibholz, and an Introduction, all well worth reading. But I encourage you to jump right in, if you want. Go back and look at these when you get a feel for what’s going down in the book. Front stuff can be off-putting for some, and this is best started with a running leap into the deep end, in my opinion. Just get into it.

In chapter one, “Costly Grace,” Bonhoeffer explains the difference between “cheap grace” and “costly grace,” allowing the reader to understand, right away, where he’s coming from with these two operational definitions. Pay attention to what you’re reading. Don’t let your mind drift. This is not so much over your head, as cloaked by our spiritual contamination, something very few people in the modern world can circumvent, given our over-exposure to sensory stimulation.

I look forward to hearing your reflections on this. Cathy, I’m talking to you. Guys, I’m not going to lie; this is hardcore stuff, but it’s good stuff. There’s a reason this book is mentioned in low, reverential tones. If you’re through playing around in the kiddie pool, and you want to go deep into the heart of responsible love, come on in. I dare you.

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  1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 1st Touchstone ed. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995).