The Cost of Cheap Grace: Reclaiming the Value of Discipleship

Reviewed by:

Tim Pietz, a Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University in Upland, IN.



The Cost of Cheap Grace: Reclaiming the Value of Discipleship


Bill Hull and Brandon Cook


NavPress (Tyndale House)

Publication Date:





227 pages


“Salvation by grace alone” is a well-known phrase. But has it become a cliché? Authors Bill Hull and Brandon Cook argue this shorthand phrase simplifies a larger meaning. Now, thanks to this simplification, “cheap grace” is rampant in the church today.

“Cheap grace” is the idea that salvation means saying a sinner’s prayer, getting your ticket to the pearly gates, then carrying on with your life. Hull and Cook see something missing in this cheap grace equation: “There is only one way to experience your salvation, and that is via a lifetime of discipleship to Christ” (p. 13). In other words, what’s the point of becoming a Christian if your life doesn’t change?

Hull and Cook highlight numerous issues in the church today and point to the root of cheap grace. Too often, laypeople merely watch the pastorate put on a show. There’s a mindset of “supporting cast” Christians watching the “stars” onstage (p. 37). Too often, Christians have a consumeristic attitude toward the gospel—what’s in it for me? Too often, Christians embrace “the gospel of being right”—a gospel that cares more about someone’s theological checklist than their heart. These and other lies have crept into the church, and the authors link it all back to cheap grace.

Hull and Cook make some excellent points throughout their book, and they’ve clearly thought in-depth about their subject. Unfortunately, they make some missteps that may alienate their audience. Multiple times, the authors ridicule opposition with statements such as “If one were to simply think it through, this interpretation is obvious” (p, 34). Occasional political bias may also alienate readers.

While Hull and Cook’s arguments are thought-provoking, some run the risk of overcorrection. On page 23, the authors suggest, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if we required discipleship for church membership?” But how would the church require discipleship? Spiritual growth would have to be measured somehow .  . . quantified. You would have to do a certain amount of something in order for church leaders to determine you were growing in your relationship with Christ. That’s more likely to create spiritual scorecards than a heartfelt pursuit of Christ.

While The Cost of Cheap Grace highlights a key issue in the church today, its navigation of nuance leaves much to be desired.



3 out of 5 stars

Suggested Audience

American Christians

Christian Impact


The Cost of Cheap Grace: Reclaiming the Value of Discipleship

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