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Denison Journal of Religion

Abstract

Rohrer links Bonhoeffer's theology to contemporary America and explores the implications that Bonhoeffer's work, particularly the work that occurred in Nazi prison, has on the contemporary American Christian. All of Bonhoeffer's work, from The Cost of Discipleship to Letters and Papers from Prison, shows a commitment to Christianity that does not make the life of a Christian easy. This is particularly evident in his discussion of "cheap grace" or "grace without the cross." Bonhoeffer describes this notion as an empty salvation that does not bear in mind the great sacrifices that the Christian Testament shows as necessary to find grace. However, in recent years, it has been Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison that have gotten the most attention, according to Rohrer. This work is particularly well known for his idea of the "world come of age" which represents a healthy, functioning society that does not require religion. Rohrer points out that Bonhoeffer's plea for secularism is not one that hopes to do away with Christianity, but rather is based on the belief that when Christianity falls into the trappings of religion, it becomes a very dangerous institution. Rohrer reminds the reader that Bonhoeffer would have known this fact well"it is the religious nature of Christianity that resulted in the swastika being wrapped around the cross. According to Rohrer, Bonhoeffer is not hoping for a world without God, but a world without religion in which humanity's desperate need for God would be more evident. Rohrer argues that frequent misrepresentations of Bonhoeffer's theory of the "world come of age" can be particularly damaging and he turns to a more fully articulated explanation of this theory as a challenge to contemporary Americans to live with the goal of caring for the total personhood of their fellow men and women.

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