Archive for June, 2012

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the most

powerful Christian martyrs of the 20th century. The son of

a noted physician, Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau, Prussia.

When Hitler assumed power in Germany, Bonhoeffer was

in the United States. Knowing that Hitler was bad news for

Germany, Bonhoeffer, at the risk of his own life, returned

home. An outspoken opponent of Adolf Hitler and his rise

to power in 1933, Bonhoeffer joined the Confessing Church,

which resisted Nazism. After World War II started,

Bonhoeffer joined in the political resistance to Hitler that

led to his imprisonment in April 1943 in Berlin and his

death by hanging at the Nazi concentration camp at

Flossenbüürg on April 9, 1945.

A passage from Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer:

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 means grace as a

doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness

of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of

God taught as the Christian “conception” of God.

An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of

itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. . . . In

such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for

its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real

desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore

amounts to a denial of the living Word of God,

in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of

God. . . . Cheap grace means the justification of sin

without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone

does everything they say, and so everything can

remain as it was before. “All for sin could not atone.”

Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the

world, let him model himself on the world’s standards

in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously

aspire to live a different life under grace from his

old life under sin. . . . Costly grace is the gospel that

must be sought again and again and again, the gift

that 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.”

Post-Modernism: Bill Clinton

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Postmodernism has influenced many cultural fields,

including literary criticism, sociology, linguistics, architecture,

visual arts, and music. Recently the author heard

former President Bill Clinton respond in a postmodern

way to a question posed to him by

reporters. President Clinton told reporters

that one of Clinton’s colleagues had

mistakenly destroyed valuable but unflattering

Clinton archival material.

“President Clinton,” the assertive

reporters continued, “how do we

know that your friend did not destroy

this material to protect you?”

“My friend is a good man and he

would not do that,” President Clinton responded

with a smile.

“Why should we believe you, Mr. President?”

the reports retorted.

President Clinton was visibly upset.

“Why? Because I am telling you it is


This reader believes

absolutely that former President

Clinton really thought

that the public should believe

him because “he said it was

true.” Reality to a postmodern man is

very much tied up in the subjective language

that he generates.

Most scholars argue that postmodernism began in the

1990s, after the end of the Cold War. Postmodernist thought

is an intentional departure from modernist approaches that

embraced empiricism and science. The term “postmodernism”

comes from its critique of the “modernist” scientific

mentality of objectivity and progress associated with the



Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Postmodernism is a tendency in contemporary

culture characterized by the

rejection of objective truth and a

common cultural narrative.

In other words, in postmodernism

every sacrosanct

ethic is in question. Before

postmodernism the Golden

Rule, for instance, was universally

accepted as a desirable

moral trait. Not in postmodernism—

everything is on the chopping


Postmodernism emphasizes the role of language, power

relations, and motivations; in particular it attacks the use of

classifications such as male versus female, straight versus

gay, white versus black, and imperial versus colonial.

Postmoderns avoid “categories,” which by definition limit


Bertrand Russell (1872–1970)

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012


Russell (below, PD-US) was an extremely productive writer

who rejected all subjectivity. He even disavowed

that there was any intrinsic thought

or knowledge on which a world view

could be built. All reality must be subject

to objective logical inquiry. Thus,

psychology and other social sciences

was suspect. Naturally, all religions,

full of speculation and unable to be

quantified, were rejected out-of-hand.

If an actual event could not be quantified

or repeated then it was not real.

There was no reality outside of natural science

or quantified history.

A passage from A Free Man’s Worship by Bertrand Russell:

If an actual event could not be quantified or repeated

then it was not real. How, in such an alien

and inhuman world, can so powerless a creature as

Man preserve his aspirations untarnished? A

strange mystery it is that Nature, omnipotent but

blind, in the revolutions of her secular hurryings

through the abysses of space, has brought forth at

last a child, subject still to her power, but gifted

with sight, with knowledge of good and evil, with

the capacity of judging all the works of his unthinking

Mother. In spite of Death, the mark and seal of

the parental control, Man is yet free, during his

brief years, to examine, to criticize, to know, and in

imagination to create. To him alone, in the world

with which he is acquainted, this freedom belongs;

and in this lies his superiority to the

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951)

Friday, June 1st, 2012


“If a person could not speak it, it was not real,” Wittgenstein

was famous for saying.

Wittgenstein was the Albert Einstein of Western philosophy.

As Einstein completely transformed physics,

Wittgenstein transformed philosophy. In fact, some scholars

argued that by introducing new paradigms and categories

for discussion, he ended philosophy as a viable discipline.

Like Martin Heidegger, he argued that reality was merely

language. If a person could not say it, then it was not real. In

other words, philosophy was irrelevant. Only language was

relevant. While Western philosophy purported to discuss

essential foundations of justice, reality, and ethics, these

were, according to Wittgenstein, false problems distracting

people from the real issues. Philosophy tried to push people

beyond their language. For example, Plato’s forms were

irrelevant abstractions because no one could really articulate

what he meant by a “form.” Mankind, Wittgenstein

argued, was captured in the reality of language. If he could

not speak or describe it then it was not real. This had profound

ramifications on Western philosophy and made

Wittgenstein one of the early leaders of postmodernism.

Postmodernism is a philosophy that argues that there is no

objective theory of knowledge and truth.