Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the American Church – 1931 or 2009?

I know the facts of this statement, but I have to wonder if it could have been written yesterday?

In New York, they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ…. So what stands in place of the Christian message? An ethical and social idealism borne by a faith in progress that – who knows how? – claims the right to call itself ‘Christian’. And in the place of the church as the congregation of believers in Christ there stands the church as a social corporation. Anyone who has seen the weekly program of one of the large New York churches, with their daily, indeed almost hourly events, teas, lectures, concerts, charity events, opportunities for sports, games, bowling, dancing for every age group, anyone who has become acquainted with the embarrassing nervousness with which the pastor lobbies for membership – that person can well assess the character of such a church…. In order to balance out the feeling of inner emptiness that arises now and then (and partly also to refill the church’s treasury), some congregations will if possible engage an evangelist for a ‘revival’ once a year.


For those who might comment about this being the ‘social gospel’ as Bonhoeffer calls it, remember that here, ‘social’ means something along the lines of social club and not caring for the ills of society.

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5 Replies to “Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the American Church – 1931 or 2009?”

  1. what about a church that teaches only Yeshua but not the Father? Yeshua told us to pray to the Father,that he is sent from him, and he is holy and good,but some churches never mention the Father only Yeshua.

    1. I think that too often, people who claim the name of Christ simply pick and chose their theology and their practices to suit them.

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