Bonhoeffer. WTF ! How could I not know Bonhoeffer was an atheist ?
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30-08-2012, 05:01 PM
RE: WTF ! How could I not know Bonhoffer was an atheist ?
Hmm... I thought the church still makes him out to be a Lutheran? I keep trying to find a certain documentary I saw advertised recently, so I really have nothing to base my impression on. But that's just what I gather from it - that they still consider him a man of the cloth.

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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30-08-2012, 05:30 PM
RE: WTF ! How could I not know Bonhoffer was an atheist ?
(30-08-2012 05:01 PM)kim Wrote:  Hmm... I thought the church still makes him out to be a Lutheran? I keep trying to find a certain documentary I saw advertised recently, so I really have nothing to base my impression on. But that's just what I gather from it - that they still consider him a man of the cloth.

I'm sure they do. I have to see what he really says in "Letters and Papers". But the quotes in the link, look pretty suspicious.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein Certified Ancient Astronaut Theorist
Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (KJV)

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30-08-2012, 06:54 PM
WTF ! How could I not know Bonhoffer was an atheist ?
(30-08-2012 05:30 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(30-08-2012 05:01 PM)kim Wrote:  Hmm... I thought the church still makes him out to be a Lutheran? I keep trying to find a certain documentary I saw advertised recently, so I really have nothing to base my impression on. But that's just what I gather from it - that they still consider him a man of the cloth.

I'm sure they do. I have to see what he really says in "Letters and Papers". But the quotes in the link, look pretty suspicious.

Like the quote that he was "practically an atheist?" Tongue

The wackos like to judge! I should know. Dodgy

But yeah, the Neo Orthodoxy guys got a bad rap because they saw the old ways of understanding God as dead and they tried to move away from conservative religious dogma and more toward the philosophy of doing good unto others. That's why you'll find the soup kitchens and social programs in your downtown liberal churches and the suburban megachurches put on fancy church services that look like a tv variety show.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of Calvinism is that good Atheists do nothing." ~Eric Oh My
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03-09-2012, 04:35 PM
RE: WTF ! How could I not know Bonhoffer was an atheist ?
(30-08-2012 03:59 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(30-08-2012 03:26 PM)Erxomai Wrote:  Get Barth's Dogmatics while you're at it. Drinking Beverage

You. I see what you did there. It's 13 FUCKING volumes long. I think not. There must be a Cliff notes version.

Jesus Christ represents God's rejection of human sin and the election of all humanity regardless of my beliefs or actions. ... Don't have much to say about that but guess I could go along with that if pressed. ... Haven't we been here before. Drinking Beverage And yeah, there's always vodka in my coffee. Wink

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03-09-2012, 04:51 PM
RE: WTF ! How could I not know Bonhoffer was an atheist ?
(03-09-2012 04:35 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(30-08-2012 03:59 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  You. I see what you did there. It's 13 FUCKING volumes long. I think not. There must be a Cliff notes version.

Jesus Christ represents God's rejection of human sin and the election of all humanity regardless of my beliefs or actions. ... Don't have much to say about that but guess I could go along with that if pressed. ... Haven't we been here before. Drinking Beverage And yeah, there's always vodka in my coffee. Wink

Yup. That's what it always comes down to. Aquinas : volume 1, question 32, Summa Theologica, ‘It is impossible to attain to the knowledge of the Trinity by natural reason. . . . Whoever, then, tries to prove the trinity of persons by natural reason, derogates from faith in two ways.’

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein Certified Ancient Astronaut Theorist
Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (KJV)

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03-09-2012, 06:27 PM
RE: WTF ! How could I not know Bonhoffer was an atheist ?
(03-09-2012 04:51 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(03-09-2012 04:35 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  Jesus Christ represents God's rejection of human sin and the election of all humanity regardless of my beliefs or actions. ... Don't have much to say about that but guess I could go along with that if pressed. ... Haven't we been here before. Drinking Beverage And yeah, there's always vodka in my coffee. Wink

Yup. That's what it always comes down to. Aquinas : volume 1, question 32, Summa Theologica, ‘It is impossible to attain to the knowledge of the Trinity by natural reason. . . . Whoever, then, tries to prove the trinity of persons by natural reason, derogates from faith in two ways.’

I'm down with the clear delineation of the ineffability of faith with the clarity of reason. What I can't get down with is the continued attempt to conflate the two that religion just can't seem to help itself from pursuing. If it's fucking ineffable and you try to express it you will just come across as incoherent. ... What the fuck they thinking? That's why HoC is so much more than just a motherfucking Gwynnies prophet. He's representative of religion.

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17-09-2012, 10:31 PM (This post was last modified: 17-09-2012 10:58 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: WTF ! How could I not know Bonhoeffer was an atheist ?
So I read "Letters and Papers from Prison", (ed. Eberhard Bethge, New York: Macmillan Co., 1972), and am shocked that Christians to this day consider Bonhoeffer a Christian martyr, as he obviously was no believer, when he died. He thought of himself a "cultural" Christian in the sense, that today, we call an "empathetic altruist" or Humanist. He actually has a statue in Westminster Abbey, as modern day martyr to Christianity. When he died, he had repudiated traditional Christianity, in every way that term is used, as a belief system.

The letters reveal he was, to the end, lucid, and completely in control of his faculties. He was, in general, not tortured, and in fact stated in the post Easter Letter, (April 1944), the year before his death, that he had come to value and enjoy his solitude, as it gave him uninterrupted time to think, and write. So there can be no claim that he "lost his mind", secondary to harsh prison conditions. He did not consider the time in prison as "time lost". You'll have to read the book to understand his thinking, about that.

There are more letters, from this period, which were eventually published, which are the letters to Maria von Wedermeyer, entitled, "Love Letters from Cell 92", which I have not read yet. They were written to his fiance.

The letters are mostly to and from his parents, and his best friend and student, Eberhard Bethge. In the letters to his mom and dad, (with whom his fiance Maria was living, and often referenced), he continued to talk in familiar theistic "god bless you" types of language, but his serious underlying beliefs, which he spoke to Bethge about, reveal a progress away from both Orthodox Christianity, and traditional Theism. I am left with a final impression, he was what we would call an Agnostic Humanist.

The final letter from January, 1945, (he was executed by hanging on April 9, 1945, for having participated in a plot on Hitler's life), gave his father permission to give his things away to the People's Sacrifice charity. After the Allies arrived, his family kept looking for him, as they did not realize he was dead, until his twin sister in England organized a memorial service for him, and they, somewhat inadvertently, (apparently ??) heard it, and realized he was dead. There is a very sad letter from his older brother describing them looking for him, and arriving at his bombed-out prison, and finding it in ruins. The final letters from his parents, he apparently never answered, as they desperately sought information about him.

Bonhoeffer was a "practical atheist", even while remaining a "cultural Christian", in a "euphemistic" sense. Bonhoeffer denied (in an agnostic sense) the ability to know, (for sure), the truth of the doctrinal tenets of Christianity. He, with Karl Barth, was responsible for what came to be called the "Death of God" theology, (which was documented on cover of Time Magazine, and caused a furor, in the US, and resulted in the highest number of letters they ever received).

He enjoyed writing poetry, (which reminds me of Schiller, ie "theism..but not really"), and he was an accomplished musician, (which, interestingly enough, was almost always associated with his most vivid memories).

So how do I know he was no Christian ?

Bonhoeffer, (in the same way some of the nuns of the LCWR talk about a "post-Christian era"), talked about "moving towards a completely religion-less time", (p.279). He was aware, in his thinking that if the "a priori" foundations of Christianity, were really not the "a priori", that they thought, then the lack invalidates the later forms. It is somewhat tragic he was actually never aware of current, (even at that time), Biblical Archaeology, as it supports his ideas, 100 %. However having attended Tubingen, he must have been exposed to some of it.
"What does that mean ?", he asks. ""It means the foundation is taken away from the whole ...", p.280. He realized his time was running out on his last task, that of "secularizing" God, which he begun to do, and re-interpreting the Bible in that light.
"The god who is with us, is the god who forsakes us". (p. 360 ). "Etsi deus non daretur", (we must live as if god did not exist).

He talks about being influenced by, Karl Barth (1886-1968). Bonhoeffer readily acknowledged "the debt he owes to liberal theology." He said it was impossible to know any objective truth about Christ's real nature and said God was dead. Moreover, Bonhoeffer believed that the (new) "true" Christian was one who immersed his life in the secular world, becoming a secular "Christian". Rejecting the objective unalterable moral standards of the Bible, Bonhoeffer also proclaimed a "situational ethics", (which "raged" as the topic of the day back when, in the 50's-60's) - that right and wrong are determined solely by the "loving obligations of the moment", p. 9-12 and 378; (also Ethics, pp. 38, 186; and No Rusty Swords, pp. 44-45).

All the letters are quite good-natured. He seemed a happy fellow. I suspect this may be one of the reason Christians have not given him up, as an apostate. He continues to talk in religious terms, but after reading his definitions, they simply are not. This is somewhat humorous, as even "Christianity Today" praises him. He said : "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" ! That ain't no Christian. (He also denied the Virgin Birth, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 215). He was an 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). 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). 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). I wonder if Christianity Today ever read anything he wrote ? Tongue

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Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (KJV)

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