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Bonhoeffer's New Beginning


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Table of Contents

Beginning Introduction - Our Over-All Take on Human Life: The Problem of Morality and the Ethics of New Beginning Chapter 1 - The Trial: Universal Entry and The Problem of Morality Chapter 2 - Four Options: The Problem of Morality and the Ethics of New Beginning in Nietzsche, Arendt, Glover, and Lear Chapter 3 - "A Rift Irreparable Through Human Initiative": Devastation and the Human (In)Capacity to Make a New Beginning in Bonhoeffer's Thought Chapter 4 - "Only with God Is There A New Way, A New Beginning": Justification and Guidance For New Beginning In Bonhoeffer's Thought Chapter 5 - "The Dawning of The New World, The New Order": Practices of New Beginning In Bonhoeffer's Thought Conclusion - After the Beginning: The Problem of Morality, Divine Absence, and the Ethics of New Beginning after Devastation Beginning Anew Appendix - Bonhoeffer's Last Words: A Personal Testament and Theological Summary?

About the Author

Andrew D. DeCort is lecturer in ethics and theology at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology and director of the Institute for Christianity and the Common Good.


In mid-century Europe, totalitarians on both the left and the right sought to remake humanity, society, politics, morality, geography, and population. The scope of their hubris was astonishing, as was the body count they left behind. To accomplish their idolatrous, disastrous goals, everything was permissible. In his important new book, Andrew DeCort demonstrates that Dietrich Bonhoeffer responded theologically in Nazi Germany to this mania for remaking the world through projects of political salvation at the point of a gun. DeCort shows that Bonhoeffer's biblical theology of creation, Christ, and resurrection precluded any human project to serve as our own creators and saviors by engineering a new beginning in human life. Instead, Christians at least, know (or should know) that we are called to respond to God's creative and reconciling action, and that we must do so in love of God and others. This is a groundbreaking work, ranging exhaustively over the Bonhoeffer corpus and the secondary literature. It reveals a new dimension of Bonhoeffer's thought, and demonstrates once again that Bonhoeffer was always responding to the dangerous political and moral ideas around him with a disciplined theological and ethical response -- a response that took him to his death. Highly recommended! -- David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University
Here we have a fresh - indeed groundbreaking - reading of Bonhoeffer's entire corpus. As he reconstructs Bonhoeffer's theological ethics of new beginnings, DeCort shows how Bonhoeffer's final words, "This is for me the end, but also the beginning," encapsulates a consistent, central theme unifying his life and work: the nature and practice of new beginnings during and after social, political, and moral devastation. This book is rigorously researched, theologically and philosophically astute, and spiritually and practically relevant. In short, it is learned and wise. -- Jennifer M. McBride, McCormick Theological Seminary
Bonhoeffer's New Beginning addresses one of the deepest challenges of Christian life: how to keep and live our faith in a world of deep suffering and moral trauma, a world that for many people has shattered the notion that faith in God is even possible. After exploring this question through the work of four major philosophers, Andrew DeCort unpacks how Bonhoeffer's ethical writings offer such a "new beginning," opening the way for "a radically inclusive, universal vision of moral consciousness." DeCort makes a convincing case that this search for such new beginnings is an undercurrent throughout Bonhoeffer's work. This is a very fine book: a creative, eloquent, and often moving study of Bonhoeffer's theology and its continuing relevance. -- Victoria J. Barnett, General Editor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition
Andrew DeCort's Bonhoeffer's New Beginning takes on the profound and utterly inescapable problem of the "new beginning," the "beginning again," in the wake of devastation and catastrophe, and suggests that, and then shows how, Bonhoeffer engages in Christian theology in light of this problem. This book is a terrific vision, in my mind especially illuminating on some of the Christocentric elements in Bonhoeffer's work, and drawing on work in philosophy and political theory as well as Christian theology; it casts new light on our predicaments and the ways that Bonhoeffer may help us identify, understand, and confront them. -- Charles T. Mathewes, University of Virginia
DeCort's treatment of Bonhoeffer is creative. This study of Bonhoeffer, which includes analysis of other major figures like Friedrich Nietzsche and Hannah Arendt, takes an innovative turn to look at the concept of an ethics of beginning again. -- Reggie L. Williams, McCormick Theological Seminary

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