Bonhoeffer in America, 1: “There is No Theology Here”, part 1

After completing his doctorate at Berlin University from some of the leading theologians in the world, Bonhoeffer moved to America to study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1930–31. Union Theological Seminary was founded in 1836 in association with the Presbyterian Church and was regarded as the most renowned theological institution in the country.

While in Berlin, Bonhoeffer did not agree with the conclusions of his instructors. Nevertheless, he admired the theological rigor and the process they employed. Upon coming to Union, however, Bonhoeffer was shocked at the assumptions and poor methodology that they exercised.

Here is how he described the situation at Union:

There is no theology here. … They talk a blue streak without the slightest substantive foundation and with no evidence of any criteria. The students – on average twenty-five to thirty years old – are about completely clueless with respect to what dogmatics is really about. They are unfamiliar with even the most basic questions. They become intoxicated with liberal and humanistic phrases, laugh at the fundamentalists, and yet basically are not even up to their level.1

[to be continued…]

1 Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. The Third Reich (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 101.


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