Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Evangelicals

In the Evangelical world where I dwell, we have made almost no progress in separating ourselves from the Pharisees who argued with and opposed Jesus.

The Pharisees agreed with Jesus that personal righteousness was extremely important in God’s kingdom but differed with him on how to be righteous. For Jesus, righteousness was a gift bestowed in forgiveness and grace. For the Pharisees it was an achievement gained by adherence to the law. (Historical note: We should never forget that in the years after Jesus, the Pharisees became the legitimate heroes of Judaism, leading the people in adapting to faith-without-the-Temple.)

Jesus spoke of love while the Pharisees spoke in terms familiar to all fundamentalists: Right Answers in Theology and Right Rules in Ethics. Two of the many problems with such an approach to life, however, are that it is almost impossible for those who have all the Right Answers and Rules…

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