Who is Bonhoeffer for Us Today?
Who is Christ actually for us today?’1 Seventy-five years after his death Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s question, penned in a Nazi prison cell, still troubles Christianity and catalyses lively theological debate. This in itself is a remarkable phenomenon. From the 1960s onwards the imminent demise of what some have dubbed ‘the Bonhoeffer industry’ has been regularly predicted – only to be followed by revivals of interest and fresh outpourings of publications about his life and work. Indeed, ‘Dietrich Bonhoeffer seems to grow in popularity the further his death recedes into the past.’2 The 13th International Bonhoeffer Congress which met in January this year in Stellenbosch, South Africa drew 160 participants from six continents: senior academics, younger research students, lay people and clergy from nearly all church traditions (or none), to address the overall theme ‘How is the coming generation to go on living? Bonhoeffer and the response to our present crisis and hope’. As well as plenary lectures, there were more than 70 seminars offered on Bonhoeffer’s theology in his own context, and above all on the pertinence of his thought for a wide range of contemporary issues: African religion, black theology, climate change, medical ethics, guilt and forgiveness in public life, poverty in Central Africa, intergenerational responsibility, interfaith cooperation, and much more.