This week marks the birthday of Dietrich Bonhoeffer…
The February 2018 issue of SOJOURNERS asks the pointed question:
Is This a Bonhoeffer Moment?
It is common to wonder what we would have done if we lived in history’s most challenging times. Christians often find moral guidance in the laboratory of history—which is to say that we learn from historical figures and communities who came through periods of ethical challenge better than others. Christians who wish to discern faithfulness to Christ often look back to learn how others were able to determine faithful discipleship when their contemporaries could not. With this in mind, Dietrich Bonhoeffer may help us out today.
Judging sheerly by the publishing industry, we can answer SOJOURNERS question in the affirmative…
Here are 10 helpful books on Bonhoeffer
that have been released in the last two years:
Since Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s death in 1945, executed by the Nazis as a political dissident, he has continued to fascinate and compel readers as a theologian, witness, and martyr. Bonhoeffer’s theological brilliance, committed discipleship, ecumenical insight, and courageous participation in the struggle against fascism have profoundly shaped contemporary Christian understanding and action. In John W. de Gruchy’s estimate, had Bonhoeffer lived “he might have dominated the theological scene in the second half of the twentieth century in succession to Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and Paul Tillich. As it was, he became the paradigmatic martyr-theologian” for our time. In this new biography, Christiane Dietz masterfully portrays the interconnectedness of Bonhoeffer’s life and thought, theology and politics, discipleship, witness, and resistance, tracing the path from his childhood to his imprisonment and execution. Brief, lucid, and imminently accessible, Tietz’s new account brings Bonhoeffer’s story and work to life in a vivid retelling, unfolding his important and widely read texts, and including new, previously unseen pictures.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in one of his last prison letters that he had “come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity.” In Taking Hold of the Real, Barry Harvey engages in constructive conversation with Bonhoeffer, contending that the “shallow and banal this-worldliness” of modern society is ordered to a significant degree around the social technologies of religion, culture, and race. These mechanisms displace human beings from their traditional connections with particular locales, and relocate them in their “proper places” as determined by the nation-state and capitalist markets. Christians are called to participate in the profound this-worldliness that breaks into the world in the apocalyptic action of Jesus Christ, a form of life that requires discipline and an understanding of death and resurrection. The church is a sacrament of this new humanity, performing for all to hear the polyphony of life that was prefigured in the Old Testament and now is realized in Christ. Unable to find a faithful form of this-worldliness in wartime Germany, Bonhoeffer joined the conspiracy against Hitler, a decision aptly contrasted with a small French church that, prepared by its life together over many generations, saved thousands of Jewish lives.
Preaching, according to Bonhoeffer, is like offering an apple to a child. The gospel is proclaimed, but for it to be received as gift depends on whether or not the hearer is in a position to do so. Offered here are 28 of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s sermons, in new English translations, which he preached at various times of the year and in a variety of different settings. Each sermon is introduced by Victoria J. Barnett, general editor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, English edition, published by Fortress Press, from which these sermons are selected.
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