Was Bonhoeffer Orthodox?

Was Dietrich Bonhoeffer orthodox? Specifically, did he believe in the literal birth, death, and resurrection of Christ? Was he evangelical: did he believe that Christ was the good news of salvation for all who believe by faith? I read selections from Bonhoeffer in college that, on the face of it, appeared to show a German liberal with neo-orthodox leanings. But reading The Cost of Discipleship and Ethics seemed to show another side. He didn’t buy into liberal theology. He defended the Bible against those who would assault it.

Then, in 2009, I read portions of Letters from Prison. My tentative conclusion: what Bonhoeffer wrote later in life was substantially different from what he wrote as a younger man. Perhaps the prison and concentration camps threatened his faith in God, or maybe even shipwrecked it?

So without pouring over a bunch of Bonhoeffer’s writings, what’s your take? Those of you that have read more than I have from Bonhoeffer: is the above formulation potentially valid? How would you explain the debate that’s arisen since Eric Metaxas’ biography was published?

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  1. #1 by Jim Rankin on February 9, 2012 - 3:59 pm

    Looked for an email today for you and could only find this blog. Wanted to let you know I was praying for you and Nat & kiddos. Keep on being faithful!

    I remember hearing Dr. McLachlan talking about Bonhoeffer’s time in NYC, going to a church in Harlem and the big impact on his life. He was reading a biography that convinced Dr. Mac that Bonhoeffer was saved later in life in NYC. This is consistent with your observations. I’m not familiar with Metaxas work, but maybe that’s what Dr. Mac was reading.

    I recommend sending him at email at NIU.
    Jim

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