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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Cost of Discipleship 2015

“Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.”Robert Frost

Steadfast Discipleship

Most seminarians are familiar with the name Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his book The Cost of Discipleship and that, of course, he was executed for his alleged involvement in a plot to kill Adolph Hitler just 2 weeks before the Nazi Concentration Camp he was held in was liberated by the Allies.

What many are not aware of, however, is that he reportedly lost his faith during the time he was a prisoner—although, he did retain his strong sense of justice right up to the end. Some historians have therefore because of this labelled him a Christian atheist. In other words, he had the morals of a Christian, but the theology of an atheist. Nonetheless, his influence on religion and political scientists has been enormous, particularly through his writing.

For Bonhoeffer discipleship cost his life; but more tragically, if the reports are true, his faith. Although, I am not altogether too sure that by losing his faith that he lost the faith. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to substantiate my assessment, so I will simply have to with my assumption.

My assumption is this. It is my belief—rather, I should say, my observation that it is a good thing for some to lose their faith, especially when “their faith” does not square with “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).” My feeling is that given enough time Bonhoeffer would have adjusted his theology to fit the facts. The facts are that sometimes evil triumphs, and God is prepared for that because he has a backup plan. Well, so what, some would say. Is it fair? That’s God’s call, not mine, I would say. Be that as it may, however, I can assure you on the strength of God’s word that none of the evil that we experience in the world today, including the atrocities of the so-called Caliphate Nation of Islam, shocks God in the least. He is well aware of the proclivity of man towards evil because as far back as Genesis 6:5—
“God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

So, none of this has caught God off guard.

This I contend because I do not have the choice of making God into something He is not. Theology for me, therefore, has always been a given, not a choice.

Is God then cruel? Yes, he is certainly cruel if we assume that this is it, that he has no backup plan, or that he condones evil.

However, justice is promised, and justice will prevail. Furthermore, he will never violate our freedom to choose. So, the choice is ours, either we struggle with questions that we insist on answering for ourselves or we trust in his everlasting mercies. For as Robert Frost so rightly observed—“Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.” And, how true that is.

Quibble all you want to about the justice of God, and what is right and what is wrong, but none of this will, however, change the given—that is, evil is, and evil is never fair. 
“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)

This is all part of the journey, and we do well to accept that which we cannot change, and change what we can, and during the meantime ask God to give us the wisdom to know the difference.