2024 Luther Lecture

“When Ethics Kills: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Story of Us”

2024 Luther Lecture

The real challenges we face in our work to cultivate healthy community and human flourishing are not the ones that typically catch our attention and focus our efforts. The problems are more than the overt injustices; they exist as unidentified, and thus, intractable, presumptions that animate our efforts towards the good. Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers an example of this challenge.

He offers a sincere and lasting Christian response to the crisis in Germany that was contrast to the near wholesale acquiescence that was common among the general protestant German population. Yet, he also struggled with a common presumption, the problem of the human, i.e. an ideal to which we aspire without question. In this lecture we will take a brief look at this problem by looking at Bonhoeffer’s effort, with the help of the Black Radical Tradition as exemplified by Cedric Robinson.


In-person Zoom Webinar

About Dr. Reggie Williams

Dr. Reggie 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. The book is an analysis of exposure to Harlem Renaissance intellectuals, and worship at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist on the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, during his year of post-doctoral study at Union Seminary in New York, 1930-31.

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.


  • Interrogating Theological Anthropology in the Harlem Renaissance: The Figure of the Human as a Problem for Christian Ethics (in progress)
  • Commentary on Joshua and Judges (Westminster John Knox Press: in progress)
  • Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance (Baylor University Press, October 1, 2014) Outstanding Academic Title - 2015 - Choice Current Reviews for Academic Libraries - Winner
  • Baptist Peacemaker, Global Christian Ethicist: Essays in Honor of Glen Harold Stassen, Co-Editor/Contributor, with David P. Gushee. Perspectives in Religious Studies 40, no. 2 (Summer 2013).
Sponsored By
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary


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