Famed German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes The Cost of Discipleship for Christians, in his book under the same name, by describing the dichotomy between “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” According to Bonhoeffer “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow upon ourselves…grace without discipleship, grace without Jesus Christ. While costly grace is the gospel which must be sought after, again and again.” It requires that we stand at the foot of the cross and publicly declare that we support the message of Jesus Christ.
However, in a June 2016 survey, 78% of White Christian Evangelicals say they would vote for Trump if the election were held today. This is the cheap grace white Christian evangelicals have bestowed upon themselves just for showing up, despite not having done any of the hard work like speaking out against the life threatening systemic evil in America. While these white evangelicals boldy voice their support for Trumps position on guns, the economy, terrorism, immigration and abortion, they remain silent about the most glaring systemic evil that threatens to tear this nation apart: racism.
Early in his campaign, Trump declared that Mexicans in America were rapists and criminals who should be deported. And as if that wasn’t racist enough, he then said all Muslims should be banned from the U.S. And then there’s the fact that he claims to support business but he doesn’t pay small business owners who perform services for him. Instead he claims he takes advantage of an American resource called bankruptcy, which he has filed six times in order to avoid paying hundreds of American small business owners. I think a good case can be made that not paying your workers what is owed to them is part of the definition of systemic evil.
And, it is uncertain what may have been on his mind when he patted down his own daughter Ivanka after speaking at a July, 2016 rally.
These are but a few examples of the many occasions the words and actions of Donald Trump were a direct contradiction to the teachings of the message of Jesus Christ and the Holy scriptures. Yet, despite this immoral and unethical behavior, an overwhelming number of white Christian Evangelicals boldly continue to support candidate Trump. Trump has made it no secret that he is unapologetically privileged and unashamedly evil and immoral. Yet rather than confront this evil, the strong support of American Christians continues to enable and encourage this behavior.
White Christians supporting Trump are seeking cheap grace. Costly grace requires we as Christians confront the evils of American history and the evils of contemporary politics and culture to show a better way. I believe, as Christians, we have a moral obligation to confront evil.
Edmund Burke reminds us of this principle: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing!”
The problem of evil in blue letter bible