The Rise of Bonhoeffer: Ethics & Empire in a Post-Truth Era

We live in a time of crisis upon crisis and yet the church is silent. The need, or better put the demand, for a new trajectory of faith is clear. Where do we begin? Is there a starting point for considering faith beyond Christendom?

In this class we will carry these questions to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a genius of the 20th century church cut short because of his resistance to Nazi Germany and its ecclesial partners. Too often Bonhoeffer is claimed as an ally in this task without sitting long enough with his actual texts and witness. Here we will work through sections from his major texts and end up reading them in light of current situation, from COVID-19, to Trump, the ecological crisis, and beyond.

an Online Pop-Up Learning Community

Lectures - Reading - QnA - Forum

June 2020 - 5 Weeks


Session Outlines

  • Sloppy Agape, Greasy Grace, and the Cost of Missing the Point: Bonhoeffer on Discipleship
  • Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Bonhoeffer's Ethics
  • God's Not Dead, but May As Well Be
  • Bonhoeffer in Charlottesville: Bonhoeffer and Political Theology
  • The Bonhoeffer Eric Metaxas Never Knew: Bonhoeffer as Rorschach Test

We are extremely excited about both the content and the format of this class. Each of the elements are intended to provide all the resources necessary for the engaged nerd like yourself to wrestle deeply with a powerful thinker like Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The LECTURE each week will be given theological ethicist Dr. Jeffrey C. Pugh. Session by session we will walk through different Bonhoeffer texts, setting them in their historical context and our own.

Following the lecture there will be a DISCUSSION of the texts and themes explored in the lecture between Pugh and Tripp.

Throughout the class everyone will be invited to join and engage each other in our private group page. In additon to all the converstion threads the community will bring, Tripp will be hosting live streamed Q/A SESSIONS within the group throughout the class.

Can't join live? Want to save the content for later? No problem! ALL THE CONTENT OF THE CLASS WILL BE RECORDED AND SHARED AS BOTH AUDIO and VIDEO TO THE CLASS. SO go ahead and join.

The main sessions will stream for the group @5pm eastern each Tuesday.

with Reading Selections from...

The Cost of Discipleship

What can the call to discipleship, the adherence to the word of Jesus, mean today to the businessman, the soldier, the laborer, or the aristocrat? What did Jesus mean to say to us? What is his will for us today? Drawing on the Sermon on the Mount, Dietrich Bonhoeffer answers these timeless questions by providing a seminal reading of the dichotomy between "cheap grace" and "costly grace."

Life Together

Recounts his unique fellowship in an underground seminary during the Nazi years in Germany. Giving practical advice on how life together in Christ can be sustained in families and groups


Though caught up in the vortex of momentous forces in the Nazi period, Bonhoeffer systematically envisioned a radically Christocentric, incarnational ethic for a postwar world, purposefully recasting Christians' relation to history, politics, and public life. Focused on Christ, the God who became human, and the vision of a world reconciled with God, Ethics shuns abstraction, seeks the will of God in concrete historical reality, and calls the church to be a transforming community in the world with a new responsibility to public life.

Letters and Papers from Prison

The materials gathered and selected by his friend Eberhard Bethge in Letters and Papers from Prison not only brought Bonhoeffer to a wide and appreciative readership, especially in North America, they also introduced to a broad readership his novel and exciting ideas of religionless Christianity, his open and honest theological appraisal of Christian doctrines, and his sturdy, if sorely tried, faith in face of uncertainty and doubt.

Religionless Christianity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Troubled Times by Jeffrey Pugh

This book is an interpretation of Bonhoeffer in the contemporary context. Jeffrey Pugh puts Bonhoeffer's theology in perspective by revisiting some of the themes of his life that have found abiding significance in Christian theology. Starting with a chapter on why Bonhoeffer is still important for us today, this book moves to chapters that bring Bonhoeffer into conversation with our present situation.

about Dietrich

Dietrich Bonhoeffer remains one of the 20th century's greatest theologians and witnesses to radical faith. He was a German pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church. His writings on Christianity's role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book The Cost of Discipleship has been described as a modern classic.

Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to Nazi dictatorship, including vocal opposition to Hitler's euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Tegel prison and later Flossenbürg concentration camp. After being accused of being associated with the July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was quickly tried and then hanged on 9 April 1945 as the Nazi regime was collapsing, 21 days before Adolf Hitler committed suicide.

about Jeffrey

Dr. Jeffrey C. Pugh recently retired as Maude Sharpe Powell Professor of Religious Studies and Distinguished University Professor from Elon University in North Carolina. The author of six books ranging from Barth, religion and science, and the apocalyptic imagination to Bonhoeffer, Pugh’s work has focused on Christian complicity in the Holocaust and the lessons that can be applied to instruct future generations. His latest work, a chapter on his reflections while he was participating in the clergy resistance at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville is found in Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theology, and Resistance. He and his wife Jan, a retired United Methodist minister, make their home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

about Tripp

Dr. Tripp Fuller is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Theology & Science at the University of Edinburgh. For over 12 years Tripp has been doing the Homebrewed Christianity podcast (think on demand internet radio) where he interviews different scholars about their work so you can get nerdy in traffic, on the treadmill or doing the dishes. Last year it had over 3.5 million downloads. It also inspired a book series with Fortress Press called the Homebrewed Christianity Guides to... topics like God, Jesus, Spirit, Church History etc. Tripp is a very committed and (some of his friends think overly ) engaged Lakers fan and  takes Star Wars and Lord of the Rings very seriously.

So... are you in?