Essays on Methods and Understanding
Larry Rasmussen: Bonhoeffer: Ecological Theologian
Larry Rasmussen Bonhoeffer: Ecological Theologian The Historical Project Every epoch has its overarching work, its historical project, its compelling, comprehensive task. Bonhoeffer’s own work was to forge a renewed Chris- tian faith and ministry in the face of the rise of fascism, the decay of the West as a viable spiritual-moral entity, and the onset of what we call “post- modernity” and what he called the “world-coming-of-age.”1 In all this, en- vironmental issues as we face them today appear nowhere in Bonhoeffer’s writings. His theological and cultural analysis includes powerful themes that are nonetheless pertinent. Moreover they express a profoundly Earth- honoring theology, exactly the kind of theology and Christianity required for our own “great work” or “historical project.” That work is, in the words of Thomas Berry, “to carry out the transition from a period of human dev- astation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneﬁcial manner.”2 To engage Bonhoeffer directly for a subject that was never his own man- dates that we be highly conscious of method. The method employed in this essay consists of two elements. One is Bonhoeffer’s own method, a theological one. He works as a systematic theologian whose biblical exegesis as well as cultural commentary shows a mind whose incisive categories are theological. We shall track his theological treatment of Earth themes in the systematic manner he himself does. The other element is the kind undertaken by a historian of...
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