What Happens to Church Ministry When…?

What happens to church ministry when we turn from the “phraseological” to the “real”? The terms need fleshing out. The phraseological is theology as words, ministry as didactic and indoctrinating, the congregation/members/Christians as empty minds in need mostly of filling or the congregation in need of becoming passive before the fountain of pastoral wisdom. The [Read More...]

Rethinking “Youth” Ministry

What does it mean to “do theology” with youth? or in youth ministry? Andrew Root has been exploring this question for years and he points the way in today’s post by showing how Bonhoeffer was a theological kind youth pastor. Not one who so much taught theological answers but one who introduced youth to thinking [Read More...]

Where is the kingdom?

D. Bonhoeffer, Christmas Night sermon, 25 December 1940 (DBW 16.616). It is no longer a worldly throne and kingdom as it once was but a spiritual throne and kingdom. Where are Jesus’ throne and kingdom? They are where he himself is present, reigns, and governs with his word and sacrament, in the church, in the [Read More...]

Who Owns Bonhoeffer?

I have been with a wide variety of theologians and pastors who love Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In fact, Bonhoeffer seems to be on every one’s side. Is there a “real” Bonhoeffer beyond the ownership? We might wonder where he’d locate himself in our theological spectrum but that’s speculation. Andrew Root, in his new book on Bonhoeffer, [Read More...]

Taking Sides in Theological Disputes

Every generation has its theological disputes. Some are much more significant than others, though some suggest that each of the debates concerns the most essential elements of the faith. Which translation to use is not as important as the Trinity but some of the voices in the former debate suggest apocalyptic doom if we get [Read More...]

Church and Government, Under Christ

We don’t think enough about the relationship of the church to the state; we assume what exists in our world is what is supposed to be. Any experience in other countries, however, reveals considerable and substantive differences, and those differences lead to different strategies for churches and Christians on how to relate to the state [Read More...]

Obedience vs. Freedom

One of the most profound thinkers about ethics in the 20th Century was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, even if he left behind a trail of manuscripts, some finished and some not, in an order that remains elusive and with some thoughts that are relentlessly uncontainable. In other words, many of us long to know what he would [Read More...]

Bonhoeffer, Marriage and Abortion

Writing in Ettal, not far from Munich where Bonhoeffer was working as a double agent in but against Hitler’s tyrannical system, Dietrich Bonhoeffer began to write his work on Ethics. In the official works of Bonhoeffer (DBW 6) there is a full explication of the order of the various manuscripts he wrote, with full attention [Read More...]

The Journey of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There are a number of very important biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, none more complete or significant than the one by Bonhoeffer’s friend, Eberhard Bethge (Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography). Bethge’s biography is complete though not exhaustive (even if at times a bit exhausting) and takes serious commitment to finish. The prose is not captivating. Alongside Bethge [Read More...]

The Church: What is or What could be?

Do you love the church for what it could be or what it is? If the former, I suggest you read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s magisterial little book, Life Together. It is, so I think, his best book. No need, however, to debate what is neither provable nor non-falsifiable — what one thinks is his best book [Read More...]