Doubt and Cheap Grace

We as Christians often have this problem with faith. We seem to think that doubt is heresy and that faith cannot exist if a person has doubts. This could not be further from the truth. It is a way of “gatekeeping” those we consider impure or not “really Christian” from our churches and our lives.

Jesus handled doubt much differently than modern day Christians. He speaks to Thomas in our readings Sunday with compassion and understanding. You see, doubt has the capacity to make us better informed and more compassionate human beings. Doubt complements faith.

Many Christians today are so sure of what they believe that they cannot handle any hint of doubt. Even Jesus voiced his own doubts in the Garden the night of his arrest. The very Son of God voiced his concerns over whether he needed to die or not.

If God’s own Son had doubts, then we certainly are entitled to doubt. Thomas today is vilified in most pulpits because he had the normal human doubts. I feel for what Thomas was going through. He knew Jesus had died in one of the most horrific ways to die. He likely saw his body before he was sealed in the tomb. He might have even helped wrap Jesus’ limp and lifeless body.

Three days later, he was expected to believe that not only after the crucifixion, but also after being dead and buried for 3 days, Jesus had miraculously risen from the dead. This was more than he could handle. Even knowing what he knew about Jesus, this seemed far fetched.

I have experienced my share of doubts. I have had people tell me routinely that I am not a “real Christian” because I am LGBTQIA. They accuse me of teaching a “false Gospel” because I live by and expect other Christians to live by the TEACHINGS of Jesus.

Detrick Bonhoeffer, a German theologian during the reign of Nazism in his home country, spoke of these types of Christians when he talked about Cheap Grace. “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Cheap grace is expecting one to have faith without any doubts.

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must the asked for, the door at which a man must knock.” Costly Grace is the grace obtained because we have doubts that we are willing to work through. Thomas had Costly Grace because he was willing to get up and go see for himself that Jesus was indeed alive.

Costly Grace comes when we are willing to critically listen to Jesus, follow his teachings, and not just sit in the pew and expect to be saved by the heresy of substitutionary atonement. It is a grace that comes only when we can accept that not everyone has to believe like us, look like us, behave like us and love like us.

Costly Grace says I will love you no matter who you are, who you love, or where you go to church. This is the Grace Jesus brought us through his life and teachings. Are we willing to live in Costly Grace? Or are we content with being like the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day?

Come join us as we LIVE the Gospel, not just sit in Cheap Grace.

Pax et Bonum,

Bishop Greer