UTC Bonhoeffer subject to explore martyr’s writings and legacy

UTC Bonhoeffer subject to explore martyr’s writings and legacy

A new Masters-level subject held at United Theological College will invite students to explore the thoughts of one of the twentieth century’s most famous theologians.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) wrote much of his theology during the rise of Nazi Germany and during the Second World War. Bonhoeffer joined a failed plot to assassinate Hitler, for which he was jailed and later martyred. His famous works, including The Cost of Discipleship and Letters and Papers from Prison, are influential among theological scholars, and known for their complexity and work on what it means to be a Christian during times of great difficulty.

Running from 4 March to 3 June 2021, ‘Who is Dietrich Bonhoeffer for us today?’ is a new course taught at United Theological College.

“This subject will include close readings of several of Bonhoeffer’s main texts, with a view to how these might assist Christians with responding to the challenges of today.  In addition, we will spend time looking at how Bonhoeffer has been drawn upon in contexts like Latin America, South Africa and Hong Kong.  We’ll also look at some more recent work that has been using (and at times criticising) Bonhoeffer in relation to issues of race and gender.”

The subject is aimed at the Master of Theology level and is pitched towards those with some previous studies in theology.  Dr Mawson indicated to Insights, however, that he would be “happy to talk with anyone who is interested.”

The subject comes after United Theological College has been announced as the hosts of the next international Bonhoeffer Congress in 2024, the first time the event has been held in the southern hemisphere.

The subject and conference mark a recent resurgence of interest in the influential Lutheran theologian.

“A first factor that has contributed to the resurgence of interest is the completion of the English editions of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (the final volume came out in 2014),” Dr Mawson said. 

“These volumes have given students and scholars access to better editions of Bonhoeffer’s texts, and thus helped people to recognise the richness of his thought.”

“A second reason is that Bonhoeffer has often been a figure who has inspired constructive theological work and activism.  In light of some of the challenges confronting us today (i.e. climate change, recognitions of systematic racism, rise of authoritarianism) many people have been returning to Bonhoeffer and finding useful ideas and inspiration.”

‘Who is Dietrich Bonhoeffer for us today’ runs on Thursdays from 6:30pm-9:30pm, from 4 March to 3 June 2021. For more information, and to enrol, visit United Theological College’s website.

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