Archives For Bonhoeffer

 

Deep into the Humanity of a Great Theologian
 
A Feature Review of

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Charles Marsh

Hardback: Knopf, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall
 
 
[This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog, and is reprinted here with his permission]
 
There are people who seem to transcend the confines of history.   They are bigger than life, casting long shadows, and inviting multiples of interpretations.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer can be counted as one of those figures.   For a man who died at the age of thirty-nine, while spending the final two years of his life in prison, Bonhoeffer has left an immense legacy for later generations to mine and ponder.  He has been the subject of numerous biographies and academic monographs.  His collected works, which includes his books, letters, papers, sermons, and lectures, comes to sixteen volumes.  He was a theological genius, but he was also a participant in one of the most challenging struggles the church has ever faced.   While his early works were standard theological fare, his later works emerged during the German Church Struggle against the demonic (if I can use that word) presence of National Socialism.  It is these later texts, both the ones that emerged from his underground seminary and then during the years of conspiracy and then imprisonment that have proven fruitful to later generations.
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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

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Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church

by Scot McKnight

Read a review of this book from Bob Cornwall

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Bonhoeffer’s Commitment to Peace and Opposing Injustice
 
A Feature Review of

Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking.
 
Mark Thiessen Nation, Anthony G. Siegrist, and Daniel P. Umbel.

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2013.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Shaun C. Brown
 
“Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–45), a pastor and theologian, is perhaps best known today for his involvement in the conspiracy to topple the Hitler government, which included his involvement to kill Hitler, leading to Bonhoeffer’s subsequent execution at the hands of the Third Reich” (1). Since Eric Metaxas’s biography introduced Bonhoeffer to a wider audience, this opening statement carries even more weight. This plot usually says that through his theological study, Bonhoeffer came to hold some form of pacifist position, but when faced with the cold reality of Nazi Germany, he abandoned his pacifism, embraced a Reinhold Niebuhr-like realism perspective, and joined the plot to kill Hitler.
 
Mark Thiessen Nation, along with two of his former students, Anthony G. Siegrist, and Daniel P. Umbel challenge this understanding of Bonhoeffer’s life and work. In particular, “[W]e will argue that it is highly unlikely Bonhoeffer was involved in any assassination attempts. And since he was not involved in such attempts, there is no textual evidence that he attempted to justify such attempts” (13). Part 1 consists of a sketch of Bonhoeffer’s biography, while part 2 analyzes his writings.
 
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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

> > > >
Next Book

Bonhoeffer the Assassin?: Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking
By Mark Thiessen Nation, Anthony Siegrist, and Daniel Umble.

Listen to a talk that one of the authors gave on this topic

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Our Latest Book Giveaway…

 

We’re giving away three copies of the new book
Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture
(IVP Academic 2013)

[ Read our review of this book by Todd Edmondson … ]

************

Enter to win a copy of this book!
Enter now to win (It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!) :

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Wrestling with the Place of the Church in the World

A Feature Review of

Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture
Keith L. Johnson and Timothy Larsen, Editors.

Paperback: IVP Academic, 2013
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Todd Edmondson

 

As Keith Johnson and Timothy Larsen state in their introduction to Bonhoeffer, Christ, and Culture, “Bonhoeffer’s works at times can seem almost a kind of Rohrschach test, telling us primarily something about what the people encountering them stand for and believe rather than something about Bonhoeffer himself.” Such a quality is not unique to Bonhoeffer, of course—Albert Schweitzer famously employed a similar metaphor when talking about the elusive “Historical Jesus”—but one would be hard-pressed to find another figure in modern Western Christianity (with the possible exception of C.S. Lewis) who means more things to more people than Bonhoeffer, the young German theologian whose execution at the hands of the Nazis forever enshrined him as a courageous hero of the faith. To many evangelicals, including recent biographer Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer is an ally to the cause of truth and moral conviction in a relativistic age. To more liberal readers, especially those who identified with the “Death of God” theology of the mid-twentieth century, Bonhoeffer was adopted as a conversation partner due to the (admittedly ambiguous) category of “religionless Christianity” advanced in his influential Letters and Papers from Prison. For countless believers in the last half-century, Bonhoeffer’s writings on the Christian life, particularly The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together have been admitted into the canon of devotional classics, and his “theology of sociality” has contributed to ecclesiological discussion across both generational and denominational divides.

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The Wake Up CallThe Wake Up Call –
9 April 2013

 

Like the smell of strong coffee wafting down the hall, we offer a few book-related thoughts and stories to jumpstart your day…

 

*** Receive an email with The Wake Up Call (and daily ERB posts) in your inbox each morning! Sign up for The Daily Book Morsel

 


 
“He who loves his dream of a community more that the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died on this day 1945
*** Books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

“I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.” – Charles Baudelaire, *** Books by Charles Baudelaire

Book News:

 

Thanks be to God for this new day, may it be full of beauty and grace!

 

The Wake Up Call image via WikiMedia Commons

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Diana Butler Bass - Christianity After ReligionThe End or the Beginning?

A Feature Review of

Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening
Diana Butler Bass.

Hardback: Harper, 2012
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

Reviewed By Jess O. Hale, Jr.

As the age of “spiritual but not religious” just now hits its stride in American society, commentators and pundits fill the airwaves, the Internet and a host of books in order tells what it all means – most with a great deal more diffuse heat than helpful illumination.  Atheists and secularists trumpet religion’s demise as the less strident among them call for toleration of quaint tribal superstitions and the outright banishment of more troublesome expressions of religious practice.  Fundamentalists lament the rise of godless humanism, the pagan-like new age spiritualities and militant Islam as they themselves struggle to impose a gauzy “godly” bygone morality from the early 1950s.  Mainline denominations retrench themselves.  Church growth and mega-church devotees trot out new marketing schemes.  Many observant and not so observant Christian parents feel perplexed as their children leave the faith and never seem to come back to it.  Emergent Christians call for a new less sectarian, more world-engaging form of Christian practice.   Our time is one of change that seems to many to be one of fundamental transformation.  That change disorients many and we look for guides to this new age.  In Diana Butler Bass’ Christianity After Religion many readers will find an accessible, learned and hopeful guide to where our “brave new world” is taking us.

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“Is Christ divided?
The Witness of an Ecumenical Table, Not an Ecumenical Babel?”

A Brief Review of

Ecumenical Babel:
Confusing Economic Ideology
and Church’s Social Witness

Jordan J. Ballor.
Paperback:
Christian Library Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Jess O. Hale, Jr.

To many Christians today the lack of unity among Christ’s followers scandalizes the church, but for many disciples of Jesus the depth of poverty across the globe and around the corner is equally scandalous.  It is quite natural that both realities give offense to Jesus’s followers as Paul’s lament in 1 Corinthians (“Is Christ divided?”) is later matched by his collection for the poor and his horror at people going hungry at the Lord’s Table while others feasted.  In Ecumenical Babel, a young Reformed scholar who edits the Journal of Markets and Morality for the free-market oriented Acton Institute, Jordan Ballor, looks at the ecumenical movement and shares the scandal of the division in the body of Christ, but disappointingly he seems as caught up in economic ideology as those he blasts with criticism.  While today’s ecumenical movement is undoubtedly sickly and I had guarded hopes when Ballor took Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s passionate confessional ecumenism as a point of departure, unfortunately Ballor cannot rise above a screed against his assessment of “neo-Marxism” and liberation theology with his equally ideological and baldly asserted free-market neo-liberalism (xvi, 4, 105).

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“Who is Christ for Us Today?

A review of
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters
and Papers from Prison: A Biography

by Martin Marty
.

Review by Jess Hale.


Martin Marty on Dietrich BonhoefferDietrich Bonheoffer’s
Letters and Papers from Prison:
A Biography

Martin Marty
.
Hardback: Princeton UP, 2011.
Buy Now:
[ Amazon – Hardback ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

In a digital age, many fear the practice of letter writing is dying at the hands of the technological innovations of email and Twitter. Not only that but commercial publishers continually offer us celebrity and political memoirs, frequently polished and ghostwritten, that provide us with a superabundance of information about many who have not lived rich or significant lives.  Still a German pastor from a Nazi prison cell in Berlin asks a friend in a letter “who is Christ actually for us today?” (4/30/1944) and a host of readers since then cannot put that book of letters down because the pastor’s words matter to how many of today’s readers answer that question.  Letters, correspondence between two people, can still matter.

Historians still edit occasional volumes of some notable’s literary remains, but those efforts seldom have a wide audience.  Fortunately, Martin Marty, a scholar now retired from the University of Chicago, ably reminds us of the power of private correspondence to provoke substantive debates about important matters – in this case, the place of Christian faith in the world in which we actually live.  Marty has written a book that tells us the story of a book – a quite momentous book, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers From Prison (LPP). In telling this story, we learn something of the gripping life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran theologian who died at the hand of the Nazis at the end World War II for his role in the German resistance to Hitler and its failed plot to kill the dictator, but we learn more of the making of a classic that made readers across the globe grapple with the meaning of Christian faith in this world from the prison writings of a condemned pastor.   Marty reminds us that these writings spiritually “served readers everywhere as a testimony to openness, possibility, and hope.” (4)

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