Bonhoeffer Project Reading
Taken from the Bonhoeffer Project Participants Guide
“What does it mean to be saved? Saved from what? And for what purpose?
While God has provided an answer for us, the church also struggles to answer some of these
basic questions. What we are saved from? What we are saved for? The popular
understanding of salvation that dominates today’s evangelical church has little connection
with discipleship or life transformation. Dallas Willard once concluded, “Simply put, as now
generally understood, being “saved” — and hence being a Christian—has no conceptual or
practical connection with such a transformation.” 14 This is a serious problem. Our
understanding of “salvation” has been divorced from a commitment to following Jesus.
Discipleship is relegated to the status of “optional,” an add-on to the normal Christian life.
Many Christians today believe that if you would like to live closer to Christ, be a godlier
person, and live a life of peace, joy, and goodness, that’s great. In fact, it is one of several
options for those safe in the security of salvation. But it is certainly not something for all
What is the motivation for becoming like Christ when it is no longer seen as a requirement
for heaven? Getting into heaven is a transaction based on acceptance of a doctrine,
irrespective of any behavioral change. Being saved is being delivered from the consequences of sin, but all too often this does not lead one to become the type of person who actually wants to be in heaven, let alone someone who would enjoy it.
The truth is that if you are saved by acknowledging belief in a specific doctrine, and yet
spend most of your life ignoring God’s will and using him for your own purposes, you are
unlikely to be the type of person who will want to be in heaven.
If a taste of God and a God-centered life is too much for you now, what will you do with a full
dose of God forever? If you don’t like God or agree with him in the here and now, why do
you think your desires will change with a change of scenery? And if your answer is that God
will someday change you so you will like him and want to be with him, it begs the
question—isn’t that a large part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus? And why do for
yourself what in the end, God will do for you in an instant? God wants willing disciples who
love him and are eager to follow him. The notion that we can be saved without loving God is
a plain falsehood.15 And yet it is the central problem we face in contemporary, Christianity.
There are many Christians who claim to be saved yet have no interest in the things of God.”