Bonhoeffer, Religionlessness, and Cross Theology

1*UTBGRFrjRXjksKkb3ycePgI recently received a question from a good friend about Bonhoeffer’s use of the term religionlessness. He wrote “Some seem to be enamored with Bonhoeffer’s religionless Christianity. And I’ve read snippets here and there, say, from Letters and Papers, but I’m wondering if you have critiques or more clarified thoughts on what Bonhoeffer is and is not saying when using the phrase. That is, what interpretations of his phrase are just outright off base?”

Good question. Problem is that the question basically states the problem in Bonhoeffer research on this subject. The “snippets” my friend refers to are all there is. And you know how it is with snippets; they can easily become molochs in the hands of diligent word smiths who are tempted to serve their own imagination and agenda rather than do justice to the snippets and their writer. Continue reading “Bonhoeffer, Religionlessness, and Cross Theology”


Bonhoeffer and Religious Pluralism: Towards a Dialectic of Christocentric Ontology and Christocentric Alterity

This paper has not yet been published. None of its content may be copied or republished whether in print or online.


The reality of religious pluralism in our modern societies is a matter of urgent concern for Christian theology. This article aims to make themes in Bonhoeffer’s theology useful for religious pluralism. The two themes explored are Christocentric ontology, which describes the transformation of believers into the form of being that is called being for others, and Christocentric alterity which recognizes Christ as the center of the world and acknowledges the boundary of divine transcendence as emerging in the encounter with the religious or non-religious other. Making use of Bonhoeffer’s engagement with Karl Barth, this article rejects John Hick’s epistemological pluralism in favor of Christocentric ontology while placing its own constructive proposal alongside the work of Tom Greggs and Gavin D’Costa as a third option based on the Bonhoeffer’s theologia crucis. Lastly, the dialectic between Christocentric ontology and Christocentric alterity is discussed in order to clarify the function of the claim that Jesus is Lord within the context of the pluralism proposed in this article.
Continue reading “Bonhoeffer and Religious Pluralism: Towards a Dialectic of Christocentric Ontology and Christocentric Alterity”

Bonhoeffer Scholarship Come of Age

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 9.48.44 AM.jpgReview of Taking Hold of the Real: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Profound Worldliness of Christianity by Barry Harvey. Cascade Books, 2015.

This Review was Published in Cultural Encounters in 2017.

“Taking Hold of the Real” by Barry Harvey is a powerful book with an important message for Christians today. More than yet another monograph on Bonhoeffer, it offers a compelling analysis of the state of our Western society and the Church’s complicity in its ills. With Bonhoeffer’s help, Harvey seeks to describe an alternative way of being in the world that patterns itself after Christ’s being with and for the world. Harvey takes up Bonhoeffer’s concept of this-worldliness (the insistence that Christian existence is to be radically worldly in a christocentric sense) within the context of a world come of age. The world come of age is yet another term Bonhoeffer coined while in prison to describe the emergence of a modern world that had thrown off religion as an unnecessary garment as it encountered a new dawn of rationality and alleged maturity. How should Christians be Christians in such a world, Bonhoeffer wondered? Continue reading “Bonhoeffer Scholarship Come of Age”


How Bonhoeffer Can Be an Ally for Trump Voters


When Liberty University’s president Jerry Falwell Jr. announced his endorsement for Trump, I was amazed at the rhetoric that justified the evangelical vote for a Trump presidency. As someone with close ties to the evangelical community my amazement turned into horror as I witnessed how evangelical leaders across the board joined in the call to urge evangelical voters to love up on Trump. Continue reading “How Bonhoeffer Can Be an Ally for Trump Voters”


The Cross of Reality: A Personal Review

9781451488807h.jpgGaylon Barker’s book about the theology of the cross in Bonhoeffer “The Cross of Reality: Luther’s Theologia Crucis and Bonhoeffer’s Christology” deserves the highest praise. Although, I have to admit, it’s also been a pain in the ass until I read it. That is to say, this book was published at the very moment that I did my innovative discovery of the theology of the cross being the guiding motif in all of Bonhoeffer’s work. Continue reading “The Cross of Reality: A Personal Review”


“Christopraxis” – A Review

51RVn-JI19L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAs a theologian researching the theology of the cross (theologia crucis) in Bonhoeffer, it was time for me to read Andy Root’s “Christopraxis, A Practical Theology of the Cross.” I’m not a practical theologian. Not by profession, that is. I do think of myself of a systematic theologian who is deeply interested in the practical, and transformational power of theology. But practical and systematic theology are two different disciplines that, though intersecting, have their own, method and rationality. In this review, then, I will not discuss the contribution of Root to the field of practical theology, simply because I’m not qualified to do so. I will, however, look at the integration of the theologia crucis into his discipline. Continue reading ““Christopraxis” – A Review”


Theology of the Cross or Theology of Glory? You Choose!

Martin_Luther,_1529Recently someone asked me about the difference between a theology of the cross and a theology of glory. Let me briefly explain. The theology of the cross has its roots in St. Paul who in his 1st Epistle to the Corinthians spoke about the cross of Christ as foolishness to the philosophers and an affront to religion. Continue reading “Theology of the Cross or Theology of Glory? You Choose!”


Bonhoeffer’s Theology of the Cross

BonhoefferBonhoeffer’s theology is a modern version of Luther’s theology of the cross. It is not merely a slavishly reworked version but constitutes a highly original contribution to the conversation that captures both the essential elements and the heart of Luther’s theology and makes it relevant for today. To the extent that Luther’s work represented a copernican revolution in theology Bonhoeffer’s work does too. Continue reading “Bonhoeffer’s Theology of the Cross”


Bonhoeffer’s Dialectical Christocentrism

For those who are interested, here is a piece that explains what my Bonhoeffer dissertation is all about and what will determine my theological program after that. It may be a little dense and technical, but if you want to get the whole picture of how my work on Bonhoeffer connects with the future of the Church, you will want to read this post.

Continue reading “Bonhoeffer’s Dialectical Christocentrism”


Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: A Review

Black Jesus“Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus” is a marvelous addition to the growing literature on Bonhoeffer’s theology. The author, Reggie Williams, provides us with a perspective on Bonhoeffer that highlights the influence Bonhoeffer underwent during his time in New York as a foreign student at Union Theological Seminary.  Continue reading “Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: A Review”