Here’s some background material to my previous post.
Note that these posts are not critical of the individuals named but question why it seems fashionable to give them a status as some form of evangelical because some of their writings or beliefs can be viewed sympathetically by evangelicals.
Here’s Tim Challies’ post about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which was sparked by Eric Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer, a book which I intend to get into some time this year.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I enjoyed reading Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Actually, it’s one of my all-time favorite biographies; it’s readable, engaging and it deals with a fascinating part of history. But lately I’ve come across a few articles by experts in Bonhoeffer who say that it’s just plain wrong—it’s a portrayal of the man that is geared toward evangelicals and, in seeking to make the reader happy, it succumbs to all sorts of errors.
Richard Weikart of California State University says that Metaxas “serves up a Bonhoeffer suited to the evangelical taste” and notes with disbelief that in “an interview with Christianity Today Metaxas even made the astonishing statement that Bonhoeffer was as orthodox theologically as the apostle Paul.”
Read Counterfeit Bonhoeffer
R. Scott Clark also notes that “Like a lot of people I started reading Bonhoeffer in college. I quite enjoyed Life Together and am still influenced by it”, and then goes on to note that others from theologically diverse backgrounds, such as Karl Barth have received a form of ‘evangelicalisation’:
There is a similar problem with Barth. The Barth being mediated to me by various evangelical sources didn’t sound much like a fellow who had been educated where Barth had been educated, who had lived in the intellectual and theological context in which Barth had lived. The Barth being mediated to me by my evangelical friends sounded much more like a fellow who had attended Wheaton College or Moody Bible Institute. Sometimes it seemed as if the only thing Barth had ever said was, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Read Barth, Bonhoeffer, and Evangelicals