Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture edited by Johnson & Larsen

Bonhoeffer, Christ and CultureSummary: A Book summary of the 2011 Wheaton Theology Conference on Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am always so excited to read the book produced from the papers of the Wheaton Theology Conference, but then I tend to have to force myself to finish the book.

It is not that the papers are bad, there are always some very good essays and a few that are less interesting to me (I am sure mostly because of different interests between myself and the authors more than the quality of the papers.)

Because these books are only loosely connected around the subject I tend to read a chapter or two and then put the book down and then pick it up again quite a while later.  I have been reading Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture for a couple months now on and off.

Timothy Larsen’s chapter on how Evangelicals have received Bonhoeffer over time was very interesting.  It was a good supplement to the biographies that I have read on Bonhoeffer because it was more about why we read Bonhoeffer than Bonhoeffer himself.  (Makes me want to read Martin Marty’s book on the history of Letters and Papers from Prison).

Joel Larson’s chapter on using Bonhoeffer to construct a theology of the church based on others I thought was a very helpful look at how Bonhoeffer’s ecclesiology would fit into a modern Evangelical context.  Similarly, Lori Brandt Hale’s chapter on how her college used Bonhoeffer’s theology of vocation as part of their all school curriculum was also quite useful as a model of how to use historic theologian for modern theological practice.  These two chapters were the most focused on using Bonhoeffer for current and future theology and not as much a historical perspective.

Finally, Jim Belcher has a very personal chapter about how liturgy was important to spiritual development, not only personally for Bonhoeffer, but important to Bonhoeffer’s understanding of what he was doing at Finkenwalde with the underground seminary.

Bonhoeffer continues to be interesting exactly because he lived in such a different time than we do now.  But there is much more that we can (and will) learn from his example as a theologian, ethicist, public intellectual, and pastor.  This book certainly helped re-ignite my desire to keep reading and learning about Bonhoeffer.

The links to video and audio at the Wheaton Theology Conference are available.  I have not watched them.  But they may be interesting if you want to get a sense of the papers that were presented.

Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition


Adam, I appreciate your reviews. Thanks so much!

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