My last post discussed what I consider to be a “Christian vice”: extending love, mercy and forgiveness to people who utterly and absolutely reject it.
I read another article that crystallizes this absurd—even dangerous—idea. This article, penned by Allan Erickson, concerns the mass shooting of black Christians in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015, by a young, white racist who mercilessly murdered these people in a bible study.
“The members of that church personified Christ. They called for calm, peace and prayer. They extended grace to the shooter’s family, and even spoke the words of forgiveness to him…”
I agree with the first portion of the above paragraph; to call for calm, peace and prayer in the midst of such heinous carnage is exemplary, which is far better than calling for the looting and burning down of the town. And calling for “extended grace to the shooter’s family” is a further act of graciousness.
But then Erickson begins to slip into the common heresy of modern day American Evangelicalism when he writes of the members of the church speaking words of forgiveness to the shooter:
“Family members of those killed went on camera, witnessing the love of Christ, mourning their loved ones, and extending grace and mercy and forgiveness, even when none was requested by the killer.” (Emphasis mine.)
Where in the Bible do we find the Lord Jesus “extending grace and mercy and forgiveness” to a murderer when it was never requested? Can you find one single Scripture, in either the Old or New Testament? Was not repentence first required—even demanded—from anyone who would receive the unfathomable riches of mercy, grace and forgiveness from the Lord?
It is nauseating, even revolting, the depths that American Christianity has sunk to. We cheapen the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and count His precious blood as a cheap commodity when well meaning but wholly deluded Christians can offer it so willingly to a depraved murderer that wants absolutely nothing to do with it.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor during the reign of Hitler and who was a member of the failed plot which sought his assassination, wrote these famous lines:
“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing….”
“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.” (Bold mine.)
This “cheap grace” is nothing less than a heresy, a perversion, of authentic grace. He contrasts “cheap grace” with “costly grace”:
“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man’ will gladly go and self all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
“Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Emphasis mine.)
Christians in America, if they preach anything, preach “cheap grace.” This is manifestly exhibited in this article by Allan Erickson, no doubt a well-meaning individual but deluded by the innumerable adherents around him to the heretical doctrines of “cheap grace” that permeate our culture and which has caused our country to rot in immorality and wickedness.
Ultimately, the teaching of cheap grace is an attack against the holiness, sovereignty, and preciousness of the Gospel and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We preach cheap grace to our doom as a nation.