Josh has a great post about the tendency of some “confessional” Lutherans to “say things that flatly contradict most of what the Lutheran Confessions say about repentance, good works [and] the work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life”, let alone the teachings of Jesus or St Paul.
Josh ascribes this tendency (one I’ve occasionally described as “hyper-Lutheranism”) to the results of defining one’s theology as a negation of the teachings of other Christian traditions. However, his post has some strong parallels with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s criticisms of “cheap grace” in the opening chapter of The Cost of Discipleship.
For example, where Josh observes that “it’s sort of trendy these days to say that … the life of a Christian is at best indistinguishable from that of an unbeliever except when he is participating in the liturgy”, Bonhoeffer writes:
The Christian life comes to mean nothing more than living in the world and as the world, in being no different from the world, in fact, in being prohibited from being different from the world for the sake of grace. The upshot of it all is that my only duty as a Christian is to escape from the world for an hour or so on Sunday morning and go to church to be assured that my sins are forgiven.
And where Josh argues that “‘properly distinguishing Law and Gospel’ … has been in our era largely defined as a negation of everything that Catholics, evangelicals, and Reformed have to say about the Christian life”, Bonhoeffer makes a similar point in even harsher terms:
We Lutherans have gathered like eagles round the carcase of cheap grace, and there we have drunk of the poison which has killed the life of following Christ … To be “Lutheran” must mean that we leave the following of Christ to legalists, Calvinists and enthusiasts – and all this for the sake of grace. We justified the world, and condemned as heretics those who tried to follow Christ.