Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Two Friars & a Fool, Landon Whitsitt and grace

Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of his grace! That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap Grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship.

Aric Clark, Doug Hagler, and Nick Larson of Two Friars and a Fool have posted a YouTube video of the PCUSA’s Vice Moderator, Rev. Landon Whitsitt, and intend it for conversation. A lot of his talk is about the internet, and how it, with open sourcing, will affect Christianity. It seems to me to be somewhat of a put down to orthodox Christianity. He says that most American Christians have the same understandings of Christianity that they had when they were in sixth grade.

But that is simplistic and without definition. Christians believe in the authority of Scripture, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, justification by faith, the resurrection and life eternal and yes God’s amazing grace. These are just basic to Christianity. Is this what Whitsitt is speaking of?

Whitsitt also speaks, at the end about grace.
The Christian faith, a lot of Christians, people who would call themselves progressives or open source Christians, start to emphasize the notion, the idea, the truth of God’s grace over and above everything else. I know that’s true for me. When I think about God, when I talk to people about God, I talk about a God of grace. A God who freely gives, a God who loves, who freely gives in love. A God who doesn’t require anything of me in order to receive the benefits and the truth of this gospel, right? This God interacts with me in a way, and interacts with the entire world, and let’s be clear not just me, interacts with the entire world with a notion of grace, with a notion of I am going to give you goodness and benefits and truth and I am going to give to you, as Jesus said, I am going to give you abundant life, I am going to show you abundant life and I am going to teach you how to effect abundant life for everyone else and in exchange for this I am not going to ask you for anything. Right you don’t have to pay for this I’m giving it to you freely.”
Now I will be truthful, Whitsitt does go on to suggest that because we possess this grace we are required to pass it on and to love those we disagree with. In other words, God does ask something of us. But there needs to be a clearer understanding here. Grace, God’s unmerited favor, is free and yet as God gives it he also gives faith and repentance. We repent and turn around and walk a different direction, all by God’s grace but it isn’t an empty gift. Grace changes us. We produce fruit that comes from the new life that Jesus gives.

Bonhoeffer has a lot to say about the difference between cheap grace and costly grace. I have quoted him above. Aric in the video discussion on his website mentions, playing the devil’s advocate, cheap grace and Bonhoeffer. So after I place the video of Whitsitt on this posting I will quote a bit more. But do go and listen to both Doug Hagler and Aric Clark. Also Nick Larson is funny.[1]

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because 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 with 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.’”

And that grace has nothing to do with the internet except we can all proclaim it there.

[1] scroll down to see the other videos


Presbyman said...


This is interesting. I have been wondering about the connection between God's grace and our sanctification. IMO, what has been lacking in recent controversies is that connection. What role does sanctification play as a response to God's grace?

John Erthein
Erie, PA

Presbyman said...

And I wanted to add that I think you have written some very profound reflections since Sacramento passed 10-A. I see that as an expression of God's providence, that such an event has added to your passion to advocate for truth and holiness.

Bless you!

John Erthein
Erie, PA

Doug Hagler said...

Thanks for the comments and also for letting us know you would be making them.

Viola Larson said...

That question looks like a good study which I need to do. And on the other, Soli Deo gloria "glory to God alone".


You are welcome.

Jason Huff said...

John -

I would argue that sanctification is really no longer a part of the argument as far as our opponents are concerned. I don't believe real transformation is part of their picture any more, only acceptance of a person's current state of affairs. I think you're on the right track, and it would be good for us to study it.

Jason Huff
Macomb, MI

Robert said...


I'm teaching a class on the Solas for Lent.

Viola Larson said...

I would agree with you. i can't even imagine any of the other side writing about sanctification. After all it has to do with God setting his children apart and helping them grow towards the holiness that is his.

Viola Larson said...

I wish I could listen to your sermons.

tera said...


I think this is my favorite blog posts of yours so far.

I enjoy the conversation about grace and the relationship to purification and sanctification.

Scriptures tell us that we are all in God's hands and that those who seek him shall find truth and they will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Does this happen over night? Perhaps the conviction does, but the process is a journey, a road, a narrow one to walk that has responsible actions of love and acceptance combined with compassionate grace and forgiveness as companions.

"No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8