A DISSENT ON BONHOEFFER by David H. Hopper

A DISSENT ON BONHOEFFER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian executed in a Nazi prison camp for an involvement in the Resistance which extended to a plot to assassinate Hitler, was an oddly dominant figure in the thinking of the '60's. Though his Letters and Papers from PriSon and other writings had surfaced much earlier and impressed such emerging heavyweights as Ebeling and Moltmann, his singular call for a new ""religionless Christianity"" worthy of ""man come of age"" seized the American religious imagination only much later, amid opposition to the Vietnam war and the new secular movement. He became a hero, testifying by his life and thought to the possibility of being both a Christian and a modern man engaged with the world. In this painstaking assessment of the swell of literature that followed in the wake of Bonhoeffer's rediscovery, Hopper offers a fully documented dissent on the enduring worth of Bonhoeffer's contribution. Even the best interpreters assume a basic unity and reward in his work that critical analysis fails to specify let alone sustain. Hopper reaffirms Karl Barth's early estimate: Bonhoeffer's thought is unfinished, too circumstantial to be more than fleetingly provocative. In fact, he seemed possessed by an aristocratic, almost Nietzschean image of man peculiarly ill-suited to interpreting the biblical message. Though mostly a book about books about books that will hold little interest for those who missed the early rounds, it effectively cautions faddists, inclined to dance to each new piper, to beware of the hustle.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1975
Publisher: Westminster