The forthcoming issue of the Canadian theological journal Didaskalia, published by Providence Theological Seminary, includes both a gracious review of my book For the Life of the World: Jesus Christ and the Church in the Theologies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Stanley Hauerwas by Christopher Holmes and an essay of my own entitled, “A Matter of MIssion: Bonhoeffer, the Bible, and Ecclesial Formation.”
Holmes, who serves as Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Otago, begins his review in the following manner: “Robert J. Dean has written a wonderful book, compelling, lucid, and elegant. He takes up the christological and ecclesiological thought of two of the twentieth century’s leading thinkers, showing that for both “a catholic ecclesiology is a necessary implicate of an evangelical Christology” (p. 13).” In the paragraphs that follow he models the charitable and careful reading of texts that has come to characterize Holmes’s writing (see, for instance, my post on Holmes’s book The Holy Spirit)and towards the end of the review he raises an important probing question.
Here’s a brief preview of what to expect from my essay, “A Matter of Mission: Bonhoeffer, the Bible, and Ecclesial Formation”:
Bonhoeffer’s time as director of an underground seminary and collective pastorates in the mid- to late-1930s was indelibly marked by a profound engagement with Scripture. This paper will examine three of Bonhoeffer’s biblical expositions from this period—Acts 2, Psalm 119, and John 20:19-31. In these expositions, Bonhoeffer embodies what could be understood as a missional hermeneutic in which he engages Scripture with the expectation that the Spirit speaking through the Word will inscribe God’s people into the continuing drama of redemption through eliciting ‘the obedience that comes from faith.’ These biblical expositions, which seek to ground the life of the church in its pilgrimage between the ages in the life of the triune God, are among the most pneumatologically robust passages in the Bonhoeffer corpus and present a significant resource for the Western church seeking to navigate its way through the ruins of Christendom.
An electronic copy of the forthcoming issue of Didaskalia which contains both the review and essay, as well as essays by Ryan Turnbull on Stanley Hauerwas’s ecclesiology and Patrick Franklin on situating missional ecclesiology within a genuinely trinitarian framework, can be found here.