Raised in newness of life
Religionless Christianity and the sacraments in Bonhoeffer’s baptismal letter to Dietrich Bethge
Keywords:Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Religionless Christianity, Sacraments, Baptism, Confession of Sin
In the last days of World War II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer struggled to understand how the church was meant to live faithful to Christ in this catastrophic setting. In a letter written for his godson’s baptism, he connects themes of religionlessness and the sacraments – in particular, baptism, confession, and the Eucharist – to explore what this faithfulness might look like. In five reflections, Bonhoeffer considers and the legacy of Germany and his generation and confesses their sins and failures in hopes of creating an opportunity for the coming generation to begin their life of faith with a religionless disposition more fitting to the time and the calling of Christ. Concluding with examples of how some in subsequent generations have lived in a manner reflective of Bonhoeffer’s hopes, this article asserts that Bonhoeffer’s vision of a life transformed through reception of the sacraments remains a compelling and honest vision for Christian fidelity to both God and the Christian’s worldly context.
Copyright (c) 2023 Chris Dodson
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.
Please note that erroneous copyright information is given in the PDFs before Volume 9, 2023.