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Why We Should Avoid Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Brandon Hines

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a very well liked teacher among modern Christians. While no one can deny his bravery in not bowing down to Hitler, there are problems with his theology that simply cannot be ignored.


Liberalism is the belief that the Bible contains errors. It denies the infallibility of Scripture, which it very troubling. While being a heresy itself, it also opens up the door for other heresies. Bonhoeffer wrote on page 73 of Christ the Center,

‎”The Bible remains a book like other books. One must be ready to accept the concealment within history and therefore let historical criticism run its course. But it is through the Bible, with all its flaws, that the risen one encounters us. We must get into the troubled waters of historical criticism. Its importance is not absolute, but neither is it unimportant. Certainly it will not lead to a weakening, but rather to a strengthening of faith because the concealment within the historical belongs to the humiliation of Jesus Christ.”

When speaking of the creation account, Bonhoeffer claimed it was in error. He said,

“Here we have before us the ancient world picture in all its scientific naïveté. While it would not be advisable to be too mocking and self-assured, in view of the rapid changes in our own knowledge of nature, undoubtedly in this passage the biblical author stands exposed with all the limitations caused by the age in which he lived. The heavens and the seas were not formed in the way he says: we would not escape a very bad conscience if we committed ourselves to any such statement.” (Creation and Temptation, page 27)

Moral Relativism

The moral law of God is a reflection of God’s nature. It is absolute and unchanging. However, some, including Bonhoeffer, would claim that all morality is subjective. He claimed,

“The Christian himself creates his standards of good and evil for himself.” (No Rusty Sword, page 143)

To claim this is to claim that God’s law is subjective. It could be considered a form of Antinomianism.


Morality is not the only thing Bonhoeffer thinks is Relative. He has also promoted the idea of their being many paths to God, which is the Pluralist heresy. In Testament to Freedom on page 53, Bonhoeffer claimed,

“What are we to think of other religions? Are they as nothing compared to Christianity? We answer that the Christian religion as religion is not of God. It is rather another example of a human way to God, like the Buddhist and others, too, though of course these are of a different nature.”

Not only does he falsely claim that Christianity is not of God, but he states that Buddhism and other religions are the same as Christianity, all being examples of human ways to God. He said something similar in his sermon entitled “Jesus Christ and the Essence of Christianity”.

“Christ is not the bringer of a new religion, but rather the one who brings good. Therefore, as an impossible way from the human to God, the Christian religion stands with other religions.”

The resurrection is essential to Christianity. A denial of the resurrection is a serious heresy. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:14 (ESV),
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
This is a large contrast to what Bonhoeffer has to say in Letters and Papers from Prison, page 329,
My view is that the full content, including the ‘mythological’ concepts, must be kept—the New Testament is not a mythological clothing of a universal truth; this mythology (resurrection etc.) is the thing itself.
His prime example of a myth is the resurrection? That is troubling. Since his faith is in a Jesus who has not risen from the dead, I would say that that faith is in vain and his preaching is in vain.


The sinlessness of Jesus is essential for the atonement. Without being sinless, His sacrifice would be insufficient and He would no longer be a perfect sacrifice. In fact, He would also cease to be God! To claim otherwise is a heresy I call Peccatheism. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Peccatheist. This can be read in Christ the Center page 109, where he claims,

“The sinlessness of Jesus fails if it is based upon the observable acts of Jesus. His acts take place in the homoioma sarkos. They are not sinless, but ambiguous. One can and should see both good and failure in them.”


Bonhoeffer was not a sound teacher. He may have done good things, but his teachings should be avoided and warned about.