In times of persecution, those who are becoming Christians count the cost carefully before taking up Christ’s cross. Preachers do not beguile them with false promises of an easy life or with the indulgence of their sins. But in easy times the cost does not seem to be so high, and people take the name of “Christ” without undergoing the radical transformation that a true conversion implies. In times like these, preachers often delude them with an easy faith in order to increase the numbers on their church rolls, whether or not such people are regenerate.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this erroneous theology “cheap grace,” saying, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness with- out requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace with- out the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate.”