Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a Lutheran minister, writer, and fierce anti-Nazi critic. After his education, he became a lecturer in systematic theology at the University of Berlin in 1931. Two years later, the Nazis came to power, and Bonhoeffer became a vocal opponent of Hitler’s regime. In 1943, he was arrested by the Gestapo, and later sent to a concentration camp. He was connected to a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler, and executed by the Nazis in April 1945, mere days before the end of the war.
One of his most important works is Ethics, an unfinished work that many consider to be the seminal reinterpretation of Christianity’s role in a secular society. Bonhoeffer argues that Christians do not live inside a vacuum, but in a world dominated by modern institutions. In Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer argues that ethics is not the systematic understanding of good and evil, but rather becoming like Christ. Ethical living therefore, is discerning the will of God in every situation. The will of God, according to Bonhoeffer, can only be found by being reconciled to God through his son, Jesus Christ.
Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer remains a profoundly influential work of Christian theology in the 20th century despite its incompleteness. He revived the idea of one imitating Christ, originated by Thomas a Kempis. He also believed that the German church’s failure to challenge Nazism was an opportunity for a renewal of Christianity.