Letters to the Editor

Faith Should Be a Shield, Not a Sword

Dear Editor: Any intellectually rigorous treatment of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s doctrine of “cheap grace” (“Cheap Grace,” editorial, Nov. 9) should extend it to include lay people who self-identify as Christians.

Bonhoeffer’s formula as quoted seems limited to the institutional church only.  Since Pastor Bonhoeffer spoke to the immediate problem of fascism, he perhaps did not consider the emergence of the priesthood of the laity, now an accepted concept.

Cheap grace can now be seen to have infected all levels of the faithful. It is now most often manifest in the myriad denunciations of other people’s sins, which increasing numbers of us delight in condemning at the same time we conveniently ignore our own.

Bishop DiMarzio aptly described the error of such an approach to faith in the same issue as “some kind of weapon.” Ideally, faith should be a shield, not a sword.

Edward R. Dorney

Park Slope

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