Who is Jesus Christ today?
All this year, we’ve been asking Jesus’ question: “Who Do You Say that I Am?” At various points, we’ve turned to the wisdom of other Christians throughout church history. This Easter, we’re taking five weeks to explore who Jesus Christ is for us today. In this series, entitled “Christ for Today,” we will look at some 20th and 21st century voices who have offered new interpretations of who Jesus is, including a few who have emerged right here in New York City.
This Sunday, for the second week of this study, we’re going to look at one of those figures: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a German evangelical pastor and theologian. Several of Bonhoeffer’s books have become modern classics, including [The Cost of] Discipleship and Life Together. Bonhoeffer was also an anti-Nazi dissident, and a founding member of “The Confessing Church.” He was accused of being associated with a plot to assassinate Hitler, and imprisoned at both Tegel prison and Flossenberg concentration camp. He was executed on 9 April 1945 as the Nazi regime was collapsing, twenty-one days before Adolf Hitler committed suicide. He’s often considered a modern day martyr.
What many people don’t know about Bonhoeffer is that he spent a year (1930-31) at Union Theological Seminary here in New York, doing post-doctoral study. Some of the most important insights he gained as a pastor and a theologian were developed during his time in New York, especially through his interactions with Harlem Renaissance intellectuals. For example, Bonhoeffer worshiped regularly at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, and attributes Adam Clayton Powell as having coined the term “cheap grace”–the phrase for which Bonhoeffer is perhaps best known.
In order to help us better understand how the Harlem Renaissance impacted Bonhoeffer, we’ll be joined by a very special guest preacher this Sunday: Dr. Reggie Williams, of McCormack Theological Seminary. Dr. Williams’ book Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance (Baylor University Press, 2014) was selected as a Choice Outstanding Title in 2015, in the field of religion. Dr. Williams’ is a dynamic speaker and teacher, and this is sure to be a time you will not want to miss.
Following worship, Dr. Williams will also be leading a Rector’s Forum via Zoom, in which he’ll discuss in more detail “What Bonhoeffer Learned in Harlem.” The log-in information is below. Hope you can join us!
Reggie Williams’ Rector’s Forum
Join URL: https://zoom.us/j/92994139712?pwd=MCtLblI4RmUzVUZSZm5lUkVXNGZWdz09
Dr. Reggie Williams
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
McCormack Theological Seminary
Dr. Williams’ research interests include Christological ethics, theological anthropology, Christian social ethics, the Harlem Renaissance, race, politics and black church life. His current book project includes a religious critique of whiteness in the Harlem Renaissance. In addition, he is working on a book analyzing the reception of Bonhoeffer by liberation activists in apartheid South Africa.
Dr. Williams received his Ph.D. in Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2011. He earned a Master’s degree in Theology from Fuller in 2006 and a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Westmont College in 1995. He is a member of the board of directors for the Society for Christian Ethics, as well as the International Dietrich Bonhoeffer Society. He is also a member of the American Academy of Religion and Society for the Study of Black Religion.
In this time of global pandemic, our church, our city, and our world need prayer more than ever.
Through Easter, our online prayer services will continue to meet on our Facebook LIVE page. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we say Noonday Prayer @ 12:30. On Wednesdays and Fridays, we say “Compline” (prayers to “complete” the day) at 8 PM. All of our services are led by fellow parishioners.
More information on our full complement of online services can be found on our website at allangelschurch.com. Thanks for joining us!