The 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion included three Bonhoeffer sessions devoted to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, with one of those sessions held jointly with the Niebuhr Society.

Session 1: Bonhoeffer: Theology and Social Analysis Unit and Niebuhr Society

Theme: The Revolutionary Gospel: Paul Lehmann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Reinhold Niebuhr in the Context of Union Theological Seminary

Lexington Books, 2023

This panel is occasioned by the publication of a collection of thirty-three essays, sermons, and contemporaneous addresses by Paul L. Lehmann, The Revolutionary Gospel: Paul Lehmann and the Direction of Theology Today, eds. Nancy Duff, Ry Siggelkow, Brandon Watson. An influential theological voice in his own right, during his years at Union Theological Seminary Lehmann was both a close friend of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and a student and friend of Reinhold Niebuhr. A longtime colleague of James Cone, and among the first American readers of Karl Barth, Lehmann’s works were likewise written to address a particular context, influenced early liberation theologies throughout the world, and remain surprisingly relevant for today. In recognition of the publication of this set of essays, this panel explores the interaction of Lehmann with both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Reinhold Niebuhr, in the context of Union Theological Seminary.

Joshua Mauldin, Center of Theological Inquiry, Presiding

Nancy J. Duff, Princeton Theological Seminary, “Why Paul Lehmann? An Introduction”

Gary Dorrien, Union Theological Seminary, “Threads of Friendship and Theological Contention: Dietrich Bonheoffer, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Paul Lehmann”

Robin Lovin, Southern Methodist University, “Christian Realism and Beyond”

Andrea C. White, Union Theological Seminary, “Strangers and Gates: Barth, Niebuhr, Cone and Lehmann”

Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen, “God’s Philanthropy as the Context of Christian Theology and Ethics”

Ry Siggelkow, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, “Those who begin with prudence never get to prophecy’: Paul Lehmann’s critique of ethics”

Session 2: Bonhoeffer: Theology and Social Analysis Unit

Theme: Bonhoeffer and “La Labor de Nuestras Manos”

The papers in this session take up the 2023 presidential theme: “La Labor de Nuestras Manos.” Two of the papers do so through critical engagement with Gustavo Gutiérrez’s critiques of Bonhoeffer’s “theology from the underside” and the limitations of his “modern settler theology.” The other two turn from this focus on economic-oriented critiques to politics, considering the potential of Bonhoeffer’s theology as a resource for truth-telling and humanitarian interventions.

Karen Guth, College of the Holy Cross, Presiding

Gustavo Gutierrez
Fr. Guiterrez

Christopher Whyte, University of St. Andrews, “Theology from the Underside”: A Critical Analysis of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “View from Below”

Andrew Clark-Howard, Charles Sturt University, Bonhoeffer, Gutiérrez, and the ‘Limitations of Modern (Settler) Theology

H. Arendt

Shinkyu Lee, Oberlin College and Conservatory, Between Conscience and Tyranny: Arendt and Bonhoeffer on Truth and Politics

Judith Bollongino, University of Rostock, Ethical dilemmas and political decision-making. How Bonhoeffer’s insights on culpability deepen the ethical reflection

Session 3: Bonhoeffer: Theology and Social Analysis Unit

Theme: Bonhoeffer and Incarceration

Tegel Prison

Academic and popular receptions of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology, life, and legacy are shaped to various degrees by his arrest (April 5, 1943), the experience of incarceration at Tegel Prison, and his death sentence and execution at the Flossenbürg concentration camp (April 9, 1945). This session focuses attention on Bonhoeffer’s theology through lenses informed by scholars’ experiences teaching, working, and learning in carceral contexts. The papers bring together critical reflections on teaching Bonhoeffer in a prison context, on re-reading Bonhoeffer’s theology through a carceral lens, on matters of culpability and complicity in prison chaplaincy, and on rebellion, responsibility, and Stellvertretung in our age of mass incarceration.

Matthew Puffer, Valparaiso University, Presiding

Jennifer McBride, All Saints’ Episcopal Church (Atlanta), Presiding

Brandy Daniels, University of Portland, Rethinking Rebellion from the Underside? Carceral Politics & Creation and Fall

Stephen R. Haynes, Rhodes College, Are We Still of Any Use? Reading Bonhoeffer through a Carceral Lens

Sarah Jobe, Duke University, Bonhoeffer’s Prison Chaplain: Harald Poelchau and Being Made Sin for the Sake of Salvation

Howard Pickett, Washington and Lee University, “Farewell, Comrade”: Rethinking Substitution and Incarceration in Bonhoeffer’s Prison Writings

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