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

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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”


Billy Graham Dead: A Group Portrait of the Demise of Evangelical Public Theology

billy-grahamWith the death of Billy Graham, American evangelicalism stands to lose more than just a great leader. It is the loss of an example how to live biblically (however that was interpreted and practiced by Graham and in spite of the fact that I have quite different ideas of what that entails) as well as publicly. The current generation of evangelicals has lost this art, driving the two, Christianity and the public sphere, apart with disastrous consequences. The best public theology evangelicals can muster these days comes in the form of support for Donald Trump. It is an incoherent attempt to unilaterally enforce certain conservative values re-branded as Christian (at the expense of many other more biblical concerns) by means of riding the ticket with a man who is the embodiment of contradiction of those very values. This radical transformation is no better represented, sadly, than by the example set by his own son Franklin Graham. Continue reading “Billy Graham Dead: A Group Portrait of the Demise of Evangelical Public Theology”

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”

The Impossibility of Christian Community

Last week, the Guardian reported on Bay View, a town in Michigan, that is being sued for excluding non-Christians from buying and owning property in its community. While such communities with an original goal of spiritual renewal are not uncommon in the United States, this one stands out because the asociation enforcing the rules is defending itself.

The exclusion rule is not entirely innocent, however. The Guardian reports that “The Christian exclusionary component was introduced in the 1940s. This was a time of heightened racial anxiety and antisemitism in the US…” And indeed: “[t]he Christian-only clause was introduced together with a white-only clause, which the association eliminated the following decade.” Thus, it is safe to say that the exclusion rule was not for the purpose of spiritual renewal—as it was for previous generations—but for the sake of keeping out the other—an unwanted other. Continue reading “The Impossibility of Christian Community”

De nieuwe donorwet: is orgaandonatie bijbels?

De Eerste Kamer heeft de nieuwe donorwet aangenomen. Sommigen blij, anderen niet. Wel raar, een overheid die grossierder wordt in de lijken van haar dode onderdanen. Ik heb er ambivalente gevoelens bij. Aan de ene kant mag de overheid niet zomaar beschikken over de lichamen van haar onderdanen; ook niet na hun dood. Dat kan gewoon helemaal niet. Aan de andere kant is er een schreeuwende behoefte aan orgaandonatie. Er gaan letterlijk mensen dood die gered zouden kunnen worden met een orgaantransplantatie. Dus ik kan het wel een beetje begrijpen. D66 speelt ook wel een beetje dubbelspel, lijkt me, aan de ene kant de maximale individuele vrijheid van het individu voorstaan, maar dan gelijk ook, uh, eigenlijk helemaal niet! Je lichaam behoort de overheid toe, tenzij…

Continue reading “De nieuwe donorwet: is orgaandonatie bijbels?”

Misogynistic Theology: Keeping Women Out!

A transcript from audio on the Desiring God website on January 22 gives Piper’s answer to the question: “whether women should be models, mentors, and teachers for those preparing for a role that is biblically designed for spiritual men.” He observes that, unlike in college, in Seminaries a young man “is now submitting himself to a community of teachers who, by their precept and example, are called to shape his mind and his heart for vocational pastoral ministry.” It is therefore Piper’s opinion that to “distinguish the seminary teaching role from the pastoral teaching role in such a way that the biblical restriction to men does not apply to the seminary teaching results in a serious inconsistency.” He concludes that ” in seeking to justify women teacher-mentors for aspiring pastors, one will be hard put to stress that they’re not in the same category as pastors, and thus, as we believe, out of step with the Scriptures.” Continue reading “Misogynistic Theology: Keeping Women Out!”

Review of “Iconoclastic Theology: Gilles Deleuze and the Secretion of Atheism”


Review for Cultural Encounters of Iconoclastic Theology: Gilles Deleuze and the Secretion of Atheism by F. LeRon Shults. Edinburgh University Press, 2014. 232 pp. $24.03 hardcover. 

Iconoclastic Theology is an unusual book for this category as it attempts to apply the results of the study of the bio-cultural evolution of religion to the philosophy of atheist thinker Gilles Deleuze with the aim of producing an iconoclastic theology that relentlessly advocates a radical atheism. The book purports to be a theology rather than atheist philosophy, because “theology is simply too important to leave to theists” (187), says Shults, a former Evangelical theologian who has now left the Christian faith behind. The book follows a current trend in public discourse to its ultimate logic: the dissolution of god as a meaningful concept. Continue reading “Review of “Iconoclastic Theology: Gilles Deleuze and the Secretion of Atheism””

Does Staring at God’s Glory Make You Spiritually Healthy? No!

According to John Piper “[w]e will find mental health when we stop staring in the mirror, and fix our eyes on the strength and beauty of God.” His tweet on Twitter got plenty of likes and retweets. But is it this true? No, not at all! For a number of reasons.


Continue reading “Does Staring at God’s Glory Make You Spiritually Healthy? No!”

Losing My Religion: The 3 Most Effective Ways to Lose Your Faith

People often think that the greatest dangers to losing one’s faith lie in the world. The world offers all kinds of temptation that lure the Christian away from pure devotion to Christ. Success in the world and the pleasures found there can lead the Christian into dangerous territory. Sure. I won’t argue that! Continue reading “Losing My Religion: The 3 Most Effective Ways to Lose Your Faith”

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”