Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the pope

First, who was Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

Bonhoeffer probably was the most gifted theologian, who has lived since Martin Luther. Bonhoeffer studied at Friedrich-Wilhelm-University (today Humboldt-University) in Berlin. Bonhoeffer was one of the most gifted of the junior scientific staff at the faculty of theology. However, Bonhoeffer didn’t choose the scientific career, but became an evangelical pastor (he was pastor of the “Altpreußische Union”, the Church of Pruzzia).

Bonhoeffer was not merely a theologian of the top class, but a devout Christian. Bonhoeffer actually practized, what he preached (this kind of pastor has probably ceased for a long time). Just read Eberhard Bethge’s biography about Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer’s genuine intention was it, to reform the German Evangelical Church (former DEK, today EKD). Unfortunately the National Socialism intervened. The Confessing Church (the reformed part of the  Evangelical Church of Germany with own leadership), which Bonhoeffer joined, regretably declined after the Third Reich. The Confessing Church was the lawful (in God’s eyes lawful), Protestant Church of Germany during the Third Reich (the Confessing Church resisted Nazi-State and Nazi-Church). Contrary to the Confessing Church the DEK behaved opportune to the Nazis and supported them. The DEK was antichristian, because she was not built according to Christ’s intention or even was an opponent of Christ’s intentions. After the Second World War the Confessing Church and the DEK were summarized in the EKD (a historical mistake). Unfortunately after the Second World War reactionary forces could become prevalent and the influence of former members of the Confessing Church disappeared. Thus the DEK or EKD did not get reformed finally.

Bonhoeffer was a reformer on the same level like Luther. Only because of unfavorable, historical circumstances Bonhoeffer did not become as famous as Luther.

Why do I tell this? I want to express that Bonhoeffer was not a nobody, but an authority of theology. Bonhoeffer was a real scholar. He was at one level with St. Paul, bishop Augustine and Luther.

When someone doubts statements of Bonhoeffer, he has to procure evidence. Because of Bonhoeffer’s authority, it isn’t allowed to reject statements of him casually. Everybody should humble himself before Bonhoeffer. After a long time of research someone may build up own theories.

Bonhoeffer has rejected papacy!!! Bonhoeffer has rejected papacy!!! Bonhoeffer has rejected papacy!!!

During the Third Reich single people, congregations and pastors had to dicide, whether they wanted to join the Confessing Church or the Nazi-Church (Reichskirchenregierung). At that time there were pastors, congregations and single people, arguing, as long as we preach the true gospel in our local congregation, we belong to the true, worldwide Church of Jesus (Christian Church) regardless of our “formal” submission to the Nazi-Church.

Bonhoeffer has rejected this reasoning. His quotation “extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church there is no salvation)” became well known. When the Christian Church is attacked by an antichristian church, there is solely one holy reaction: Someone must leave the antichristian church and join the Christian Church.  A verbally correct preaching of the gospel inside the antichristian whole Church is nullified by the cowardice of the pastor and the local congregation to profess Jesus Christ publically (by shifting from the antichristian church to the Christian Church). The continous enemy of the Christian Church is the Roman Church. Bonhoeffer regarded submission under the pope like submission under the Nazi-Church!

You can check this in Volume 14 of the DietrichBonhoefferWerke (DBW) “Illegale Theologenausbildung in Finkenwalde 1935-1937”, Bonhoeffer’s Aufsatz über Kirchengemeinschaft:

Open page 677 and 678 of the volume, because there you can read the following:

What if, if in a single congregation of the Roman Church or of the Reichskirche (Nazi-Church) the gospel would be preached purely? Isn’t there then the true church too? (Answer:) There is no pure preaching of the gospel independent from the whole Church. Even if someone would preach the gospel in purity like the apostle Paul and he would be obedient to the pope or the Reichskirchenregierung (Nazi-Church), he would be a heretic and seducer of the congregation.”

By the way, the problem of papacy is a basic problem. The practical behaviour of the Roman Church is not the subject, but her structure: Jesus Christ wants to be the head of the General, Christian Church. This office the pope has stolen from Christ. Thus the papcy must be rejected, even if the Roman Church behaves friendly.

Salvation you can solely find in the Church, which is ruled by Jesus Christ! Extra ecclesiam nulla salus!!!

According to an interpretation of the Revelation by Luther, papacy will decline. The time has come?

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One Response to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the pope

  1. Pingback: Bonhoeffer on Matthew 7:24-27 « Anchor for the Soul

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