Sections like this in Bonhoeffer’s writings always make me wonder how much Barth influenced him; they also make me hesitate to think of and speak of Bonhoeffer as an evangelical in the present day sense of the term. Here’s the section found on pages 194 & 197 of his Ethics:
“The Christian ethic speaks in a quite different sense of the reality which is the origin of good, for it speaks of the reality of God as the ultimate reality without and within everything that is. It speaks of the reality of the world as it is, which possesses reality solely through the reality of God.”
“Christian belief deduces that the reality of God is not in itself merely an idea from the fact that this reality of God has manifested and revealed itself in the midst of the real world. In Jesus Christ the reality of God has entered into the reality of the world. The place where the answer is given, both to the question concerning the reality of God and to the question concerning the reality of the world, is designated solely and alone by the name Jesus Christ. God and the world are comprised in his name. In Him all things consist (Col. 1:17). Henceforward one can speak neither of God nor of the world without speaking of Jesus Christ.”
“…The reality of Christ comprises the reality of the world within itself. The world has no reality of its own, independently of the revelation of God in Christ.”
There is more to this discussion, of course; there are further nuances and developments to trace. However, it is a discussion worth having. In fact, John Baillie (a professor at Union Theological Seminary in the 1930’s when Barth’s influence was starting to grow) said, “Bonhoeffer was my student in this Seminary in 1930-1931 and was then the most convinced disciple of Dr. Barth that had appeared among us up to that time, and withal as stout an opponent of liberalism as had ever come my way” (quoted in Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography, p. 158). Comments are welcome, of course. I’ll be looking into this a bit more in the next few months, Lord willing.