Long after his death under the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer remains the most challenging, inspiring, and yet often provocatively puzzling theologian of the 20th century. No one is better equipped than John de Gruchy, following his lifetime of research and interpretation, to provide a new guide on Bonhoeffer. He identifies the searching questions Bonhoeffer raised in his context of crisis and resistance, and invites readers into a conversation on how these bear on today’s search for faith and responsible human life in the world. In relatively few pages, the development of Bonhoeffer’s thinking is seamlessly interwoven with the story of his life and the fateful history of his time, just as for de Gruchy himself, from the struggles in apartheid South Africa down to the present day, theology and public engagement have been inseparable. The result is an unusually compelling contemporary encounter with Bonhoeffer, immensely valuable for newcomers yet abounding in fresh insights for those who already claim familiarity with him.
John de Gruchy presents us the summary of a life long journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He presents the legacy of this martyr as a new kind of Christian humanism. In explaining the clarity of Bonhoeffer’s questions the author encourages readers to find their own answers.
John de Gruchy’s dialogue with Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a life-long one, and it has – and continues to be – a life-changing conversation. As an internationally recognized Bonhoeffer scholar and socially-engaged intellectual, De Gruchy is at the forefront of exploring the meaning of Bonhoeffer’s life, theology, and legacy not merely for his native South Africa but also with an eye on the complex political and religious global challenges facing us today. In Bonhoeffer’s Questions the questions are real, the conversation is inviting and stimulating, and the outcome is a wonderful book by a seasoned theologian that will not leave the reader unchanged.
De Gruchy’s latest book is more than a rich, lifelong endeavor into the depth of Bonhoeffer’s life and thought, and more than another well-written book by the great South African Theologian. It introduces the reader to both the contextuality and universality of Bonhoeffer’s theological impulses and thus gives a vision for engaging with Bonhoeffer in the future regardless of what context he will be read in.
De Gruchy offers a very fine and readable account of Bonhoeffer’s abiding provocation to contemporary Christian life, thought, and faith. Fresh exposure to Bonhoeffer’s own profound and searching questioning of faith, modern life, and their interrelation is bracing. Here, our experience of this is deepened and enriched further by our being given insight into de Gruchy’s own lifetime’s wrestling with the legacy of the German theologian in the context of recent South African history. The result is a book of rare value and interest.
For the last forty years, John de Gruchy has consistently been on the cutting edge of Bonhoeffer scholarship. He has inaugurated new conversations that concretely engage pressing social, political, and cultural issues by creatively drawing out a theme in Bonhoeffer’s work yet to be identified with such precision. This book is no different. While highlighting the important role conversation played in Bonhoeffer’s life and work, De Gruchy identifies Bonhoeffer’s central questions, models the kind of productive dialogue that can occur when these questions are raised within one’s own distinct context, and invites a new generation of readers to participate in the conversations that remain relevant today.
Some of the questions Bonhoeffer raised for himself and his closest associates are “who is Jesus Christ for us today?”, “Who am I?”, and “Are we still of any use?” In brilliantly discussing those questions and others like them, and in placing them in their contexts, John de Gruchy asks his questions born from his South African context and decades of Bonhoeffer scholarship. Some of his questions are, does Bonhoeffer’s subversive activity against a racist state correspond to Nelson Mandela’s endorsement of armed struggle in South Africa? Is Bonhoeffer’s “view from below” pertinent to the Palestinians’ conflict with the modern state of Israel? John de Gruchy's Bonhoeffer's Questions: A Life-Changing Conversation edifyingly responds to those questions in this new, moving, and prophetic account of Bonhoeffer’s pertinence to our times. A major contribution to Bonhoeffer studies!
John de Gruchy brings to Bonhoeffer’s Questions sixty years of persistent and intensive Bonhoeffer scholarship, including his key role in editing and producing Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in English. This concentrated focus of a lifetime shows in the way he has gone about the task of enunciating and elaborating on Bonhoeffer’s core questions and the questions we might ask in light of his questions, including arguably Bonhoeffer scholarship’s most intriguing and imponderable question, ‘who is Bonhoeffer for us today?’ As de Gruchy sifts through the questions and ponders on potential answers, we see just a glimpse of what some of Bonhoeffer’s systematic theology might have looked like. The combination of profundity of thought with an easy read makes the book both edifying and a delight. This is a ‘must read’ for Bonhoeffer scholars and students.
In this superb, compact, and elegantly written book, the leading South African expert on Bonhoeffer, John de Gruchy, shows how Bonhoeffer’s core questions like 'What does Christian identity look like in the modern world,' and 'how should future generations live in light of God’s humanity' not only shaped the author’s own social and political engagement in Africa, but are also intrinsically relevant to global contemporary political issues. If you are looking for a personally engaging, trustworthy, expert introduction to Bonhoeffer’s theology along with political, social, and environmental applications of his thought born from life-long, careful study of Bonhoeffer, this is the book to buy.
John de Gruchy’s volume captures the core questions of Bonhoeffer’s published books, essays, monographs, letters and interventions into public life, and reaffirms de Gruchy as a global doyen of Bonhoeffer studies. He reminds us that Bonhoeffer’s resistance to the dangers of religious captivity in Nazi Germany, anticipates the perils of religious surrender to partisan politics and the struggle for global domination. This anticipates a set of ‘new’ questions that are part of an increasingly diverse global consciousness, in an ever-changing scientific and technological worldview.
John de Gruchy belongs to that first international generation of theologians who were inspired by Bonhoeffer’s questions, questions about the world come of age, who Christ is for us today, and how the coming generation is to go on living. Bonhoeffer may have posed these questions most pointedly in the isolation of his prison cell, but, as de Gruchy shows, they were the culmination of a lifetime of conversations. In Bonhoeffer’s Questions, de Gruchy reflects on his own sixty years spent in conversation about these questions, offering in the process a portrait of Bonhoeffer as a witness to Christ, a prophet, and a humanist.
John de Gruchy weaves together a masterful commentary on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and thought with details from his own development as a theologian who discovered in Bonhoeffer an invaluable dialogue partner for the struggle against apartheid, and combines these with timely observations about the challenges and opportunities the world now faces. Whether a reader has only sampled what Bonhoeffer has to offer or is deeply immersed in all that he said and did, de Gruchy extends to each questions to ponder and possibilities to contemplate as women and men strive to bear witness to Christ and promote the dignity of all in a rapidly changing and uncertain world.