In the comments on my post about Bonhoeffer and hyper-Lutheranism, the question came up of how (or even whether) we should expect the moral behaviour of Christians to differ from that of non-Christians.
Now, as was pointed out in that discussion, it is certainly the case that not every non-Christian is “a total immoral swine”. Many non-Christians put many Christians to shame in their concern to live a good life and to help others in a sacrificial way. On the other hand, even if we don’t expect all Christians to behave better than all non-Christians, we should certainly expect individual Christians to behave better than if they were not Christians.
Not “expect” as in “require as a legalistic obligation”, please note, but simply “expect” as in “expect that to be the normal and ‘natural’ consequence of faith in Christ”. If someone has faith in Christ and their behaviour and attitudes show no apparent consequences of that, then that is a problem, not simply material for a weekly law/gospel dynamic when they go to church.
But what is the nature of the difference which faith in Christ should make in our attitudes and behaviour, if it is not one of new (or renewed) “legal” requirements upon us? I hope to look at how Bonhoeffer answers that question in my next post, for which this post is really just an extended introduction.