During the Third Reich true Christians saw a problem emerging: the Nazis tried to rule the German Evangelical Church (DEK, today EKD). Regrettably a lot of the members of the DEK welcomed the Nazi-rule both over the DEK and the state. When the faithful Christians noticed that the Nazi-rule over the DEK grew more and more, they decided to establish the Confessing Church. The Confessing Church was the real Church of Jesus Christ in Germany during the Third Reich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the most gifted theologian of the Confessing Church. Bonhoeffer was very straightforward, and sometimes his “speed” was to high for other members of the Confessing Church.
However, the Third Reich is over, but the German Evangelical Chruch (EKD) still exists, and has a lot of problems. Of course, there are evil powers not wanting that the problems of the EKD are solved. This powers don’t want that Bonhoeffer becomes well known as a theologian, and try to turn publics gaze on the “agent” Bonhoeffer. They know, the theology of Bonhoeffer would mean their sure downfall and destruction, and would bring disaster upon them.
What is the special thing of Bonhoeffers theology?
The basis of the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the Holy Scripture and the Confessional Documents of the German Evangelical Church. Bonhoeffer was never a member of a Free Church, but of the Confessing Church. The Confessing Church was not a Free Church, but the lawful Protestant Church of Germany. Bonhoeffer never discarded the sacraments, and he called Baptism and Lord’s Supper sacraments. Bonhoeffer was far away from seeing the sacraments as mere symbolic acts. Bonhoeffer was convinced that God is acting during the celebration of the sacraments. Bonhoeffer had a profound knowledge of the Early Church, and knew that the sacraments had always been part of the ecclesiastical life. There is a big problem that today some Free Churches suppose that Baptism and Lord’s Supper had not been sacraments but mere symbolic acts in the Early Church and that the Roman Catholic Church had later invented the sacramentel character of Baptism and Lord’s Supper. Free Churches should be carefully, not to see Bonhoeffer as their special man, because he is not.
Is Bonhoeffer the special man of the current EKD? Not at all. Althoug the EKD keeps the true doctrine about the sacraments, she abuses them. How? The EKD baptizes children in a sphere of unbelievers (the Holy Spirit who could cause the faith, is not present). On principle the infant baptism is allowed and was practised in the Early Church. But in the Early Church all people around the child were believers (the Holy Spirit is present in the midst of believers), so that the child could have faith before he or she was baptized. Furthermore faithful parents teached the gospel to their children and took them with themselfs to worship service and other activities of the Church. Bonhoeffer strictly rejected the infant baptism in a sphere of unbelievers.
Bonhoeffer said, the basic problem of the EKD is that they preach the “cheap grace”. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship. The people want to have forgiveness, but they don’t want to follow Jesus. Bonhoeffer said, one cannot seperate forgiveness and discipleship from eachother. It is not possible to receive forgiveness without discipleship. The consequence of baptism, received by faith, is discipleship. When someone who is baptized, doesn’t follow Jesus, he mocks God. Baptism is a really serious act.
What is the connection between abuse of infant baptism and cheap grace?
Unbelievers will never teach the gospel to their children, even when they are baptized, and will never go to church with their children. God’s call by baptism is upon the children, but nobody explains it to them. On the contrary, they maintain the fiction that baptism is all about Christianity, and discipleship would not be necessary. The EKD should never baptize children in a sphere of unbelievers, because the sacrament will be mocked. By mocking the sacrament God is mocked.
Even when people go to Church, they don’t hear the true gospel, and that they are called by baptism to be disciples of Jesus Christ. By baptizing children of unbelievers the cheap grace is preached, baptism would mean sole forgiveness.
Thus, in both cases the sacrament is mocked and remains ineffective.
Bonhoeffer made a great discovery: By baptism Jesus calls people to be his disciples. Baptism is a supernatural call which must be responded by obedience. The call of God is very powerful. By the power of the call someone is able to be a follower of Jesus, but not by his natural power. The call is the mystery of successful discipleship.