Bonhoeffer in America

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 the average twenty-five to thirty years old–are 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.

Living together day by day produces a strong spirit of comradeship, of a mutual readiness to help. The thousandfold “hullo” which sounds through the corridors of the hostel in the course of the day and which is not omitted even when someone is rushing past is not as meaningless as one might suppose….No one remains alone in the dormitory. The unreservedness of life together makes one person open to another; in the conflict between determination for truth with all its consequences and the will for community, the latter prevails. This is characteristic of all American thought, particularly as I have observed it in theology and the church, they do not see the radical claim of truth on the shaping of their lives. Community is therefore founded less on truth than on the spirit of “fairness.” One says nothing against another member of the dormitory as long as he is a “good fellow.”

Not only quietness is lacking, but also the characteristic impulse towards the development of individual thought which is brought about in German universities by the more secluded life of the individual. Thus there is litter intellectual competition and little intellectual ambition. This gives work in seminar lecture or discussion a very innocuous character. It cripples any radical, pertinent criticism. It is a more friendly exchange of opinion than a study in comprehension.

Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer, pp. 101, 104

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