Category Archives: Links

Letters and Papers

Martin Marty has posted over at The Immanent Frame on what looks to be an interesting new book: Marty’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison: A Biography. Here is an excerpt

The letters and papers from prison reveal much about Bonhoeffer’s spiritual life and vocation, and these served a new generation of collegians and seminarians who were looking for models of witness and courage. They tell of his spiritual life and vocation, as for instance in the first letter, when Bonhoeffer asked his friend, who had served as his pastor back when they were studying theology and pastoral practice together, now, through letters, again to be his pastor, since he had not been allowed to see one in prison. He pleaded to his friend: “After so many long months without worship, confession and the Lord’s Supper and without consolation fratrum—[be] my pastor once more, as you have so often been in the past, and listen to me.” Then came a revelation about Bonhoeffer’s psyche: “You are the only person who knows that ‘acedia,’ ‘tristitia’ [sadness in the face of spiritual good, medievalists called it] with all its ominous consequences, has often haunted me.” But, he resolved, “neither human beings nor the devil” would prevail.

The Pacifism of Bonhoeffer

Ted Grimsud has posted an analysis of Bonhoeffer that touches on the same issues raised earlier on this blog, namely – is Bonhoeffer a martyr?

Here’s a snippett:

Bonhoeffer was labeled by the Nazi Gestapo from 1933 on as “a pacifist and enemy of the state.” He avoided military service because he could not allow himself to take human life, especially as an agent of the Nazis. Through family connections, he managed to evade military induction by working for a military intelligence agency—but his work there did not involve anything that directly supported the war effort and in fact served as a cover for him to pursue ecumenical contacts in western Europe. The purpose of these secret contacts was to make possible postwar church relationships.

Bonhoeffer was part of a collection of about 100 Nazi resisters in this intelligence agency, and a handful of those were directly involved in the assassination plot. But there is no evidence that Bonhoeffer himself was. After the conspiracy was discovered, thousands were arrested, the vast majority of whom had nothing to do with the plot. At Bonhoeffer’s trial, he was convicted of draft evasion (which itself would have been a capital offense). That is, the Nazis themselves never claimed Bonhoeffer was involved in the plot.

In this scenario, then, stage two is actually fully consistent with stages one and two. Bonhoeffer refused to fight in the military and found a way to do constructive ecumenical work while not violating his convictions. He was arrested mainly because he was known to have connections with assassination conspirators, but was convicted of draft evasion (in his case, a profoundly pacifist stance), not involvement in the plot. In the end, he was executed. We don’t know exactly why, but quite likely simply because he was seen as an enemy of the state (which had been his label from 1933)—one of thousands the Nazis put to death in the final months of the war as a concluding act of revenge.

Religionless Christianity

Two interesting posts have appeared in the last week concerning Bonhoeffer’s religionless christianity, here, and here.. Here is a selection from the latter post:

Bonhoeffer’s great insight in LPP as far as I can see, was to dimly perceive that, while religion was a predominant guise for Christianity throughout history this did not need to be the case – that Christianity could affirm all its central tenants without religion as he defined it (God could be affirmed without metaphysics – again he was not saying that this was ontologically better but rather was becoming historically nessesary). He saw religion as having served its time well, but which had finally reached its twilight.

This is interesting to me because I think it allows us to understand Fundamentalism in a different way. Namely, as an impotent reaction to the loss of religion. The attempt to place it back in the centre. Fundamentalism can thus be seen as the very evidence of the growing redundancy of religion. It is the violent kickback against the continual loss of ground that religion has had to concede in recent years. But for Bonhoeffer there is a way beyond an anemic religious Christianity that places God at the edge and a violent fundamentalism which impotently seeks to place religion in the centre and this is what he was hinting at.


Larry Rasmussen podcast on Bonhoeffer

Union Theological Seminary’s podcast includes Larry Rasmussen’s August 6 lecture on Bonhoeffer offered in two parts. I downloaded it and found it to be an excellent addition to Rasmussen’s book Reality and Resistance. His stories from Bonhoeffer’s brother at the end of part two are particularly interesting.

Blogging Bethge links

Here is a link outline for my Blogging through Bethge Series. In looking over these again it occurs to me that at some point I got really serious with this, having started out just as an experiment. I had no idea how much time I’d really have to accomplish it. Then my job changed almost overnight and I had so much more time than I thought. Then I became really invested in it, considering it one of the more monumental things I’ve done with my life. I do plan to review the book after the series. If you notice some glaring errors or just want to help with some insights, please post comments. I haven’t had many of those. My hope is that this, in some small way, will spark new interest in this book, beyond it’s use as a reference within the academic community. This can be a very difficult book for those outside the theological world. I hope musings from an armchair dilettante like me will open new doors.

—Chris L. Rice


The “Blogging Bethge” series: A journey through Eberhard Bethge’s monumental biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Part One: The Lure of Theology

1. Childhood and Youth: 1906-1923 pg. 3

2. Student Years: 1923-1927 pg. 45

3. Assistant Pastor in Barcelona: 1928 pg. 97

4. Assistant Lecturer in Berlin: 1929-1930 pg. 125

5. America 1930-1931 p. 147

Part Two: The Cost of Being A Christian

6. Lecturer and Pastor: 1931-1932, pg. 173

7. Berlin: 1933, pg. 257

8. London: 1933-1935, pg. 325

9. Preacher’s Seminary: 1935, pg. 419

10. Finkenwalde: 1936-1937, pg. 493

11. The Collective Pastorates: 1938-1940, pg. 587

Part Three: Sharing Germany’s Destiny

12. Travels: 1940-1943, pg. 681

13. Tegel: 1943-1944, pg. 799

14. In the Custody of the State: 1944-1945, pg. 893


I just thought I’d let you all know that the primary url for this website has been changed to There is no need to alter any existing links as the address will continue to work.

In other news I am hoping to add a contributors page to this blog as well as a link to some helpful online Bonhoeffer materials.