Should he be quoted by Christians?
This will not be a long article, there are many out there on his heresies. People either will want to at least do their due diligence, or they will stop up their ears. But please at least check to see if these things are true.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is heavily quoted by reformed/Calvinist churches and individuals. He is also well loved by the emergent/contemplative churches involved in the social gospel. A hero of dominionists and Kingdom Now Theology. They admire him for his good works. Citing his bravery and outspokenness regarding evil, his attempt to assassinate Hitler, etc..
Eric Metaxas wrote a ‘biography’ on him, suggesting he was a prophet (“Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy”). Metaxas had the audacity to tell Christianity Today, “Bonhoeffer is more like a theologically conservative evangelical than anything else. He was as orthodox as Saint Paul or Isaiah.”7 Sleight of hand and deceit comes to my mind (Eph 4:13). Let’s see if he is conservative or ‘orthodox’ like Paul or Isaiah. I believe if you continue reading, you will see, he is not even close.
By the way, a couple years ago, at Scottsdale Bible Church, I asked Eric Metaxas in person about Bonhoeffer denying the resurrection. He stumbled around and said it was an ‘internet rumor’ they had recently heard of. Strange that a biographer wouldn’t have heard before, or know that it was in his books. I referred him to “Letters and Papers from Prison” and said he might want to do a little more research. Seems he has not.
I am not going to address much more about that part, nor the man himself, this is only about his doctrine. Was it Biblical doctrine? No. Do we want to favorably quote someone, implying he is a Christian, when in fact Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s teachings were heretical?
Bonhoeffer is admired for his brilliant theology and acclaimed by many today. It’s in vogue to pass along his quotes, and has been for awhile. Should we overlook that he didn’t believe in the literal, historical resurrection of Christ?
“It looks as though our faith in the resurrection were bound up with the news of the empty tomb. Is our faith then ultimately only faith in the empty tomb? This is and remains a final stumbling bloc, which the believer in Christ must learn to live with in one way or another. Empty or not empty, it remains a stumbling block. We cannot be sure of it’s historicity.” (Earlier, on the same page, he states: “Even the resurrection is ambiguous”.)8
The resurrection is ambiguous? And pastors quote this man from the pulpit…
Denial of the virgin birth” or the veracity of the Word of God itself? Or even that Jesus was the ONLY WAY…?
Do you have a problem with that? If so, I’ll share more in a moment. Here are some quotes for you to consider from some of his writings.
IS THE CHURCH CHRIST? The body of Christ is the church, however, is Christ the church? Is the Word also itself Church? This is where his teaching is so convoluted.
Please note what he says regarding us being the revelation and the Word of God…
Bonhoeffer: “He speaks and thereby creates the form of the Church. This Church is thus not only the receiver of the Word, but is itself Revelation and Word of God….(Please consider the implication of what he says. We are the Word of God, Christ….He continues on the next page,) “But the Word is also itself Church, in so far as the Church itself is revelation and the Word wishes to have the form of a created body?”10
What???? Christ, as the Word, wishes to have the form of a ‘created body’? I don’t think so….He already came as man, and was not created, He always was.
Do you believe the real blood and the actual body of Christ is sacrificed daily in the mass?
Do you believe that in this eucharist, you receive forgiveness of sins?
Do you believe that the ‘real body‘ (as Bonhoeffer says), is really present in the Eucharist (as the Roman Catholic church also teaches)?10
The Bible tells us His Sacrifice was once for all (Heb 10:10,14). The Bible tells us these words were spirit and life, Christ’s real body and real blood are not present, it is done in remembrance of Him.
Bonhoeffer says: “The eucharist is the repeated feeding of the confessing community of the baptized with the ‘true body and blood’ of Christ, the faithful are assured of their ‘physical’ communion with the Lord and each other, and ‘receive forgiveness of sins’ through Christ’s body….(In order to be able to take the eucharist Bonhoeffer gives the one condition). One “must be able to distinguish between the body of Christ and any other meal, i.e., he must come in order to receive ‘truly’ the body and blood of Christ.” (If one does not understand this portion, I can elaborate in the comments for you.)9
Bonhoeffer denied Christ was God.
This is crucial! If Christ is not God, He is not Saviour.
To be saved, a person must believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was truly God Himself (as He claimed to be), who gave His life to make a death and blood payment for his sin, which He did. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ OUR LORD” (Romans 6:23)6.
Jesus Christ was both God and Saviour, not some sort of collective consciousness.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour. Isaiah 43:10-11
And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. John 8:23-24
Bonhoeffer did not believe Jesus was the Great I Am, nor that He was God come in the flesh.
If he did not repent (change his mind), he died in his sins…
What is it that should be important to a believer? Another’s work? Or is doctrine also terribly important? Are we to contend for the faith that was once delivered? What things are essential as believers? Anything the Word says to clearly be true is essential to me. Not so with Bonhoeffer who evidently followed his reformed forefather’s method of spiritualizing Scripture, and stating and believing much of it to be myth.
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim 3:14-17
Lots of false religions and teachings espouse good works. And a Christian should most definitely do good works (Titus 3:8). That is not part of becoming saved however, it is only HIS work on the cross whereby we are given the Free Gift of Eternal Life.
However, we also have plenty of warnings regarding doctrine. How important will you consider the things I am about to share? Will you please prayerfully consider this, and I will also try to do some screen shots of some of the referenced books (I bought many).
Cheap Grace, is a derogatory and inflammatory term, that Bonhoeffer meant for those who believe in the simplicity of Christ. We believe in order to be saved, we must believe on Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf.
They have no fear really, it is these men who cheapen His grace and insult the Spirit of grace. His grace is free to us, and was only costly to Christ. They are puffed up and co-redeemers.
The church is Christ literally according to Bonhoeffer.1 So in that, Christ also was a sinner who repented3.
He got much of his understanding of repentance from Martin Luther and Karl Barth both. Collectively, they taught repentance was conversion, which was gradual. (That would explain his quote on the picture regarding no absolution without personal confession). They believed that repentance was equal to discipleship, and was proven by your works. Daily contrition and repentance was the continual outworking of one’s ‘baptism’…3
Bonhoeffer agreed with Barth, who said (besides repentance equalling discipleship), that repentance was also conversion and was continuous. There is more, no he is not speaking of progressive or practical sanctification.
Bonhoeffer says that, as the ‘contemporary manifestation of Christ, the church-community accepts the guilt of the whole world.’
What happened to every man bearing his own guilt?
Bonhoeffer says, “Repentance is allowing oneself to be pulled into walking the path that Jesus walks”. He also states that “the Latin form ‘poenitentiam agite’ and the German phrase ‘tut Busse’ may be translated either ‘repent’ or ‘do penance4 .
There is much that if one really tested the spirit of what Bonhoeffer taught and believed, they would find he had a skewed and twisted idea of what the Bible teaches.
Bonhoeffer is/was the spirit of antichrist, as he denied that Jesus is God come in the flesh. (I am not suggesting he could not have come to real faith in the end, only God knows). What I am searching here, and speaking on, is the theology and doctrine espoused in his writings. His own teaching, along with those of his mentors that he repeated within his volumes.
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father:[but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 1 John 2:18-23
WHEN DID GOD EVER CONFESS HIMSELF A SINNER?
The following is a summary of beliefs and influence of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as taken from some of the over 14 books and documents attributed to him:
1. Bonhoeffer believed that “God is teaching us that we must live as men who can get along very well without Him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us.” Bonhoeffer also believed that the concept of God as a “supreme Being, absolute in power and goodness,” was a “spurious conception of transcendence,” and that “God as a working hypothesis in morals, politics, and science … should be dropped, or as far as possible eliminated” (Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, pp. 122, 164, 360).
2. He believed that mankind had become of age and no longer needed religion, which was only a deceptive garment of true faith; he suggested the need for a “religionless Christianity.” To Bonhoeffer, “the Christian is identified not by his beliefs, but by actions, by his participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world” (Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, p. 163). Thus, Bonhoeffer’s final writings have given impulse to Marxist theologians sponsoring “liberation theology” and to others wishing to promote a worldly social gospel.
3. He refused to discuss the origin of Christ, His relationship to the Father, His two natures, or even the relationship of the two natures. Bonhoeffer was adamant in his belief that it was impossible to know the objective truth about the real essence of Christ’s being-nature (Christ the Center, pp. 30, 88, 100-101).
4. He questioned the Virgin Birth, and in reality denied it (The Cost of Discipleship, p. 215).
5. He denied the deity of Christ; he advocated that “Jesus Christ Today” is not a real person and being, but a “corporate presence” (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 75-76; Christ the Center, p. 58).
6. He denied the sinlessness of Christ’s human nature and further questioned the sinlessness of His earthly behavior (Christ the Center, pp. 108-109).
7. He believed that Christ exists in three “revelatory forms” — as Word, as sacrament, and as church. From asserting that Christ is the church, he followed that all persons in the church are identical with Christ (Christ the Center, p. 58; The Cost of Discipleship, p. 217). This amounts to pantheism!
8. He believed that Christianity is not exclusive, i.e., that Christ is not the only way to God (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 55-56).
9. He was a prominent figure in the early ecumenical movement, as evidenced through his associations with the “World Alliance for International Friendship” (a forerunner of the apostate World Council of Churches [WCC]), Union Theological Seminary, and Visser ‘t Hooft (who later became the first General Secretary of the WCC) (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 22, 212, 568). Bonhoeffer also reached out to Roman Catholics, prefiguring the broader ecumenism that blossomed after Vatican II in the mid-1960s.
10. He was a practical evolutionist (No Rusty Swords, p. 143), and believed that the book of Genesis was scientifically naive and full of myths (Creation and Fall: A Theological Interpretation of Genesis 1-3).
11. He adhered to neo-orthodox theology and terminology concerning salvation (Testimony to Freedom, p. 130), was a sacramentalist (Life Together, p. 122; The Way to Freedom, pp. 115, 153), believed in regenerational infant baptism (Letters and Papers from Prison, Macmillan, pp. 142-143) as well as adult baptismal regeneration (The Way to Freedom, p. 151), equated church membership with salvation (The Way to Freedom, p. 93), and denied a personal/individualistic salvation (Letters and Papers from Prison, Macmillan, p. 156).
12. He placed little or no value on the Old Testament –“… the faith of the Old Testament is not a religion of salvation” (Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, p. 112).
13. He denied the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture, believing that the Bible was only a “witness” to the Word of God and becomes the Word of God only when it “speaks” to an individual; otherwise, it was simply the word of man/men (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 9, 104; Sanctorum Communio, p. 161). To Bonhoeffer, the Bible was meant “to be expounded as a witness, not as a book of wisdom, a teaching book, a book of eternal truth” (No Rusty Swords, p. 118). He also believed in the value of higher criticism/historical criticism, which is a denial of the inerrancy and authenticity of the Bible (Christ the Center, pp. 73-74).
14. He had no faith in the physical resurrection of Christ. Bonhoeffer believed the “historicity” of the Resurrection was in “the realm of ambiguity,” and that it was one of the “mythological” elements of Christianity that “must be interpreted in such a way as not to make religion a pre-condition of faith.” He also believed that “Belief in the Resurrection is not the solution of the problem of death,” and that such things as miracles and the ascension of Christ were “mythological conceptions” as well (Christ the Center, p. 112; Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, pp. 93-94, 110).
– Dr. G. Archer Weniger declared, “If there is wholesome food in a garbage can, then one can find some good things in Bonhoeffer, but if it be dangerous to expect to find nourishment in a garbage can, then Bonhoeffer must be totally rejected and repudiated as blasphemy. It is worse than garbage”5.
SO WHY DO I SPEAK? I DO IT FOR THIS REASON: But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 2 Cor 11:12-15
What Must I do to be Saved?
FOOTNOTES: (not recommendations, just citing sources)
2 The material in this report was adapted in part from a paper by Don Jasmin (Fundamentalist Digest, P.O. Box 2322, Elkton, MD 21922-2322). See also the 9/13/93 and 9/18/95 issues of Christian News (p. 21 and pp. 11-13, respectively), and the Oct-Dec 1991 Bibliotheca Sacra, pp. 399-408.]
3. The Church for the World: A Theology of Public Witness, By Jennifer McBride
4 Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953
5 (FBF Information Bulletin, May 1977, p. 12).
6 Personal Evangelism Handbook by Ray Stanford, Pg 99
8 Page 112, “Christ the Center”, Harpers Ministers Paperback library.
9 Page 153, “They Way to Freedom, the Fontana Library Theology & Philosophy
10 Page 58-59, “Christ the Center”, Harpers Ministers Paperback library.