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Ethics is the culmination of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theological and personal odyssey and one of the most important works of Christian ethics of the last century. Using the acclaimed Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English translation and adapted to a more accessible format, this new edition features an insightful introduction by Clifford Green and supplemental material from Victoria J. Barnett. Written in the midst of the conspiracy to overthrow the Hitler regime, it is nonetheless chiefly concerned with ethics for the postwar time of reconstruction and peace. 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.
“Worldliness does not separate one from Christ, and being Christian does not separate one from the world. Belonging completely to Christ, one stands at the same time completely in the world.” (Page 13)
“In Jesus Christ the reality of God has entered into the reality of this world. The” (Page 7)
“Rather, the question is how the reality in Christ—which has long embraced us and our world within itself—works here and now or, in other words, how life is to be lived in it. What matters is participating in the reality of God and the world in Jesus Christ today, and doing so in such a way that I never experience the reality of God without the reality of the world, nor the reality of the world without the reality of God.” (Page 8)
“The world is not divided between Christ and the devil; it is completely the world of Christ, whether it recognizes this or not.” (Page 16)
“This relation of the world to Christ becomes concrete in certain mandates of God in the world. The scripture names four such mandates: work, marriage, government, and church. We speak of divine mandates rather than divine orders, because thereby their character as divinely imposed tasks [Auftrag], as opposed to determinate forms of being, becomes clearer.” (Page 19)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945), a German theologian, pastor, and ecumenist, was a professor in Berlin, an uncompromising teacher in the Confessing Church, and a consistent opponent of National Socialism. Executed by Hitler at the end of World War II, his influence continues today as one of the most important theologians of the twentieth century. Bonhoeffer penned countless letters, portions of fiction, and several works on theology and ethics that have shaped modern religious thought. Life Together and The Cost of Discipleship are two examples of this modern martyr’s enduring legacy.