Today’s devotional is a warning against Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is to be properly admired for his courage in staying in Germany to oppose Hitler which led to his death for his participation in a plot to assassinate Hitler. Let us honor him for his bravery. But that does not make his theology true or to be followed as today’s devotional shows. Admire Bonhoeffer’s courage but stay away from his theology. God bless you.
Because of Calvary,
Matthew 7:15 (ESV)
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
“Bonhoeffer’s thought and example….have sparked and shaped diverse movements, including ecumenism; death of God theology; liberation theology; commentaries in communist countries about the church without privileges and the world; Christian resistance to war and to oppressive political regimes; as well as traditional tributes to Christian discipleship, heroism and martyrdom.” [Ruth Zerner, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity edited by Tim Dowley, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), p. 603]
“…Three divergent groups have claimed Bonhoeffer… The first group to do this Haynes [Stephen Haynes, The Bonhoeffer Phenomenon: Portraits of a Protest Saint, (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004] calls ‘the revolutionaries.’… With the publication of Bonhoeffer’s Tegal prison letters (Letters and Papers from Prison in English)….a number of English-speaking revolutionary in the 1960s who were exploring an atheistic Christianity….pounced on certain phrases and thoughts in Bonhoeffer to support their own position. Most particularly, Bonhoeffer’s conception of ‘religionless Christianity’ caught their attention….claiming that the Bonhoeffer in prison made a radical shift, moving beyond all that had come before…. A few postmodern theologians and philosophers of religion continue to return to a revolutionary Bonhoeffer….
“A new group of Bonhoeffer interpreters evolved…Haynes calls these interpreters ‘the liberals.’… It is impossible to see Bonhoeffer outside some strain of liberalism. He did, after all, take his PhD at Berlin, the bastion of liberal thought, He did, after all, attend Union Theological Seminary, And he was a dear family friend of church historian and fellow Berliner Adolph von Harnack, a giant of liberal thought…
“Yet Bonhoeffer also took distinctive steps away from liberalism. For instance, in 1926 Bonhoeffer became enamored with the thought of Karl Barth, the theologian railing against Bonhoeffer’s very teachers in Berlin and against the bankruptcy of liberal theological thought…. Bonhoeffer….spoke so vigorously for Barth…that the great Reinhold Niebhur…would mistake Bonhoeffer for decades as a Barthian acolyte. Bonhoeffer was disturbed and shocked when in these classes he spoke of sin and all the liberal Union students laughed….
“The Bonhoeffer phenomenon is deepened…most shockingly, by conservative evangelicals…. Haynes makes an interesting point here: ‘The major figures of twentieth- century European theology ― Bonhoeffer’s rough contemporaries Paul Tillich, Rudolph Bultmann, and Karl Barth ― are typically regarded by American Evangelicals as something less than ‘true believers whose theologies are all the more dangerous for their apparent orthodoxy. Yet today, when it is difficult to find a positive mention of any of these men in evangelical publications, Bonhoeffer (who had much in common with them and was a product of the same church and university systems) is honored by a broad array of evangelical authors, publications, and institutions…’ (Bonhoeffer Phenomenon, p. 69)…. You will see no reference to Eric Metaxas’s Bonhoeffer biography, which I find so flawed and earnest to paint Bonhoeffer as a conservative…that I cannot follow him in any way…” [Andrew Root, Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, (Grand Rapids: BakerAcademic, 2014), p. 13-18]
“The wolves don’t come with business cards that say wolf.” [Mark E. Dever, “A Real Minister,” Preaching the Cross introduced by Mark Dever, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), p. 36]