Nicolai Berdyaev and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (3 of 3)
|April 29, 2013||Posted by Joseph Keysor under Blog|
Bonhoeffer gave the example of a frightened schoolgirl whose father was an alcoholic not being obligated to tell the truth about him – as if that justified lying in non-related circumstances. And if the poor girl’s alcoholic father does not allow her to study, does that justify her cheating on a test? And if her father not provide for the family, does that justify her stealing? If he treats her cruelly does that justify her refusing to forgive him? Significantly, as we see in Letters and Papers from Prison, Bonhoeffer told a lot of lies to his interrogator to cover up his undercover activities and show his loyalty to Hitler. This was not what Paul did when he was called before the authorities for his faith – but then, Bonhoeffer was not called before the authorities because of his testimony to Christ like Paul was.
Bonheoffer’s logic justifying lying has nothing at all to do with biblical Christianity. The conspirators tried to take the law into their own hands but caused more suffering and death than would have occurred if they had just done nothing and waited upon God. Thousands of innocent people died as a result of the failed attempt. It was up to armies and governments to deal with Hitler, as they did, according to Romans 13. It was not up to pastors and theologians.
What did Bonhoeffer actually do in the conspiracy anyway? He was on the periphery, trying to establish contact with the English so that if the actual conspirators finally did get around to killing Hitler they could have gotten a better deal from the allies. According to William L. Shirer, some of the conspirators were hoping to keep some of the territory acquired by Hitler. Moreover, as Shirer points out, they served Hitler faithfully and obediently for years, and were only driven to act when it became clear Hitler was losing the war. Von Stauffenberg, who actually planted the bomb, is reported to have uttered the words “Long live sacred Germany!” just before he was shot. Does calling Germany “sacred” in 1944 indicate a correct understanding of sound biblical doctrine? “Sacred Germany” would have been a foolish and wicked concept at any time. In 1944, it was contemptible and ridiculous. And if the central actor and main hero were so courageously deluded, how can we give God the praise for a conspiracy that was not wrought in his name by godly men?
More troubling is Bonhoeffer’s theology, an issue many Christians today do not want to hear about. Bonhoeffer was a brave man – who cares about doctrines?! Below are some quotes from Christ the Center. If someone reads these things and does not care about them, then it seems clear that their hero-worship of Bonhoeffer is more important to them than biblical truth. It is well known that the modern evangelical church is in very sad shape and the naïve admiration for Bonhoeffer is an example of it. One man told me Bonhoeffer was his “hero” and later got angry and belligerent when I criticized his Christian heavy metal music.
I have had enough to say about Bonhoeffer for a good long while. If any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant. Lutheran Pastor Paul Schneider had a far more Christ like and biblical witness and authentic Christian martyrdom but most people aren’t interested in that. http://http://paulschneider.studio-h-weimar.de/fremdsprachiges/englisch/42-paul-schneider-the-martyr-of-buchenwald.html A plot to kill Hitler, even if it backfired and caused many innocent people to suffer and die, is far more exciting. Maybe this shows the influence of television on the modern church.
“If Jesus Christ is to be described as God, we may not speak of this divine being, nor of his omnipotence, nor his omniscience; but we must speak of this weak man among sinners, of his manger and his cross” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christ the Center, trans. Edwin H. Robertson (New York 1978), p. 104]. “All that we know today only through the encounter with the humiliated one. It is with this humiliated one that the Church goes its own way of humiliation . . . The Church gazes always only at the humiliated Christ . . . ” [p. 113]. This shows complete ignorance of the risen Christ. How could someone possibly experience the new birth and the risen Christ and make such a statement?
About the virgin birth, we read “The question, ‘How?’, for example, underlies the hypothesis of the virgin birth. Both historically and dogmatically it can be questioned. The biblical witness is ambiguous” [pp. 104-105].Without the virgin birth, Christ was a mere mortal and Christianity is completely nullified. Bonhoeffer’s “neo-orthodoxy” – which was only liberalism in disguise – is contrary to Scripture.
Finally, about the empty tomb and resurrection of Christ: “Empty or not empty, it remains a stumbling block. We cannot be sure of its historicity. The Bible itself shows this stumbling block, when it makes clear how hard it was to prove that the disciples had not stolen the body. Even here we cannot escape the realm of ambiguity” [p. 112]. So Bonhoeffer was not sure if the disciples stole the body or not, and he is now a renowned hero and theologian for the modern evangelical church. No wonder the church is in such sad shape, with people following they know not whom.
The following is more ambiguous, at least in the last part: “. . . perhaps we have to preach about a text, which we know from scholarly criticism was never spoken by Jesus . . . There may be some difficulties about preaching from a text whose authenticity has been destroyed by historical research. Verbal inspiration is a poor substitute for the resurrection. [p. 73]. To put it another way, “Some parts of the New Testament are not authentic, but we don’t need a verbally inspired and inerrant Bible – Jesus is risen from the dead!” That sort of thinking will seem incredible to those who do not understand that calling the Bible spiritually true but not historically true is one of the fundamentals of modern liberal and neo-orthodox theology.