Preaching, according to Bonhoeffer, is like offering an apple to a child. The gospel is proclaimed, but for it to be received as gift depends on whether or not the hearer is in a position to do so. Offered here is a collection of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's sermons, in new English translations, which he preached at various times of the year and in a variety of different settings. Each sermon is introduced by Victoria J. Barnett, general editor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, English edition, published by Fortress Press, from which these sermons are selected.
In his preaching, Bonhoeffer's strong, personal faith—the foundation for everything he did—shines in the darkness of Hitler's Third Reich and in the church struggle against it. Though not overtly political, Bonhoeffer's deep concern for the developments in his world is revealed in his sermons as he seeks to draw the listener into conversation with the promises and claims of the gospel—a conversation readers today are invited to join.
“Dietrich Bonhoeffer seems to grow in stature as the years wear on. Not only was he a profound theologian and an important anti-Hitler activist, but he also devoted much of his career to Christian preaching. These sermons represent a welcome harvest of his best efforts. Among the many riches in this volume, I would especially single out his 1932 sermon on 2 Chron. 20:21—"We do not know what to do but our eyes are on you"—as a tract of our times.”
—George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary
“With brief and insightful introductions that offer historical context, this volume of sermons demonstrates Bonhoeffer’s theology of proclamation—the word of God spoken in the concrete moment. As readers of Bonhoeffer have longed observed, many of his insights (on faith and obedience, the church’s repentance, love of neighbor, discerning truth from lies) also have striking relevance in our time. Whether read as an introductory or complementary text, this collection is an invaluable resource for Bonhoeffer studies.”
—Jennifer M. McBride, McCormick Theological Seminary
“These remarkable sermons from Bonhoeffer’s early twenties to the year just before his too-early death at age thirty-nine chart his uncommon devotion to God. Many of the great themes of Bonhoeffer’s legacy— “Christ the center,”“costly grace,” “the penultimate and the ultimate” —ring out like a ram’s horn throughout The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This work is a powerful testament to Bonhoeffer’s homiletic heart.”
—Josiah Ulysses Young III, Wesley Theological Seminary
“Victoria Barnett has brought us this volume of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s sermons just as church leaders are struggling with how to preach in this historic moment. Here is Brother Dietrich’s response to our plea, ‘grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour.’ This collection traces his evolution as a preacher, theologian, pastor, prophet, and indeed Christian as he is experiencing the tumultuous assaults on church and society in his beloved Germany. His preaching is compelling as it reflects a deep and ongoing dialogue with his increasingly troubled historic context. Barnett provides insightful and accessible background for each sermon which further highlights Bonhoeffer’s rich engagement with the Gospel for his times. This is an important resource for preachers and public theologians coming to voice in our own shifting context.”
—Katie Day, United Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia
“Dietrich Bonhoeffer's sermons, though crucial for his own theological existence, have been omitted in Bonhoeffer scholarship. This excellent selection of his most important sermons makes Bonhoeffer the preacher known to a greater audience. It shows a man who is passionate about making God's gospel and command audible today.”
—Christiane Tietz, University of Zurich, president of the of the International Bonhoeffer Society, German Language Section
“Central to these sermons is “the birth of a child, not the revolutionary deed of a strongman, or the breathtaking discovery of a sage, or the pious deed of a saint.” In this second volume of Bonhoeffer’s collected sermons, Victoria Barnett’s rich, thoughtful selection ranges across his whole ministry. They include a Christmas homily for his seminarians after returning from his 1939 flight to the United States, a funeral sermon for his 93 year-old grandmother who had defied the Nazi boycott of Jewish shops, and a baptismal sermon from prison for his infant godchild and namesake. They range from personal, pastoral wisdom to prophetic, political ethics and subtleties of doctrinal theology Preacher and reader alike will find here biblically rooted sermons as pertinent to our own time as to Bonhoeffer’s.”
—Clifford J. Green, Bonhoeffer Chair Scholar, Union Theological Seminary