A Theological Immersion: The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Project

I’ve been thinking for some time now about the need to reorient this blog to its intended purpose: the examination, discussion, and celebration of theology in all things. I love writing book reviews, of course, but I’m not doing much to really discuss theological themes in the works I’m looking at (unless they’re sermon collections or whatever). That being said, it’s high time I started on something I said I would get into awhile ago: a deep study of the life and teachings of none other than the man himself, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I already kind of have a man crush on Bonhoeffer, both for his theology and for his work during WWII (I even wrote a post on it a few years back).  Bonhoeffer was a pastor under the reign of Adolf Hitler in Germany, an active member of what was called the Confessing Church, a group of pastors and laypeople committed to opposing the Nazifying of the German Christian church.  He also held some level of involvement (the amount of which is disputed to this day) in a plot to assassinate the Fuhrer.  In spite of this, his writings show a deep commitment to nonviolence, especially in the work I intend to begin with: The Cost of Discipleship.

It was by this text that I introduced myself to Bonhoeffer, first tackling it during my sophomore year at VFCC.  Since reading it, however, I lost touch with Bonhoeffer, despite having many of his writings on my bookshelf (when they turn up for a dollar apiece at a used bookstore, you DO NOT turn that down!). However, as I mentioned awhile back, I was inspired by Michael Hardin’s thoughts on the HBC Podcast about diving into the writings of a particular author, and given that I do have a small amount of knowledge about the man already, I couldn’t imagine a better choice than Bonhoeffer right now.

If you’ve followed my musings for the past few years, you already know I have a pretty high commitment to nonviolence, but that’s now why I’m digging into Bonhoeffer.  No, I’ve been there, done that, and I’m moving on.  What intrigues me most about Bonhoeffer is his theology.  He’s utterly committed to Christ in every single fiber of his being (at least it seems that way in his sermons and writings), yet he makes enigmatic statements toward the end of his writings and life about a “religionless Christianity” which scholars and theologians have LOVED picking apart and re-purposing all over the place. Therefore, I think this is going to be a fun ride.

I’ll be posting a list later today of the works of Bonhoeffer’s I intend to read (there’s quite a few of them), but I also want to get my hands on a good biography (preferably Eric Metaxas’ work; I haven’t heard good things, but it’s still worth a shot, I suppose), as well as this text about Bonhoeffer’s commitment to nonviolence as a counterweight.  I’ll still be reading other stuff along the way, related and unrelated (though I’m shelving the Process Theology book for now), and hopefully gravitating back to my original list for awhile.  Hoping to rope you folks into some good discussions with the upcoming posts!

**UPDATE**

Here’s the list of Bonhoeffer books I intend to go through during this project:

  1. The Cost of Discipleship
  2. No Rusty Swords: Letters, Lectures, and Notes from the Collected Works
  3. Ethics
  4. Creation and Fall/Temptation: Two Biblical Studies
  5. The Way to Freedom: Letters, Lectures and Notes from the Collected Works
  6. I Loved This People
  7. Life Together
  8. Letters and Papers From Prison
  9. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas
  10. Bonhoeffer the Assassin? Challenging the Myth and Recovering His Call to Peacemaking by Mary Thiessen Nation, Anthony G. Siegrist, and Daniel P. Umbel
  11. Religionless Christianity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Troubled Times by Jeffrey Pugh

Let me know if there are others I should look into or substitute!

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