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CEC - Why Is Bonhoeffer Alive for Us Today
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wed, 09 Jun 2004 02:13:58 -0700
The Conference of European Churches is pleased to forward this press
release from the International Bonhoeffer Congress
WHY IS BONHOEFFER ALIVE FOR US TODAY?
"Why does the 'Bonhoeffer industry' - as some like to call it - far from
dying out, seem to flourish anew each decade?". The Rev. Dr. Keith
Clements, General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches,
addressed this question in his sermon at the opening worship service of the
9th International Bonhoeffer Congress, meeting in Casa La Salle (Rome,
Italy), 6-11 June. About 100 theologians from 14 countries are gathered on
the theme "Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Christianism Humanism". The German
theologian, who died in 1945 in a nazi concentration camp, visited Rome as
young theology student 80 years ago.
Dr Clements preached on Romans 1,16, where the apostle Paul affirms that
the Gospel "is the power of God for salvation to everyone". "One reason",
said Clements, "why Bonhoeffer is alive for us today is that he is a
witness to the need to affirm the significance of the 'everyone' in an age
when it is being threatened, abused, trivialized". Between religious
fundamentalism, with its fear of diversity, and the relativistic and
individualistic trends of the post-modern society, "we want to know a power
of salvation for everyone, a grace which affirms the value and dignity of
everyone drawn into a new community of mutual belonging and love".
After the worship service, presided over by Prof. Hans Pfeifer (Germany),
participants gathered in the Aula Magna of Casa La Salle for the first
plenary. Prof. Michael Lukens (USA), co-chair of the Planning Committee
together with Prof. John Matthews (USA), welcomed participants underlining
that this is not just an academic event. "We live in a deeply troubling
time", he said, marked by "economic injustice, war, discrimination against
strangers, abuse against captives. We are here to study Bonhoeffer's work,
but also to explore its meaning for this critical time in our engagement
with the world".
Prof. Gianni Long, President of the Federation of Protestant Churches in
Italy, presented the situation of the Italian Protestant minority, deeply
marked by Bonhoeffer's theology and the experience of the German
"Confessing Church" which resisted fascism. The Dean of the Waldensian
Theological Seminary, Prof. Daniele Garrone, introduced this institution,
the only Protestant seminary in Rome, which will celebrate its 150th
anniversary next year.
Today the Congress started the exploration of its theme through the plenary
addresses of Prof. Gangolf H binger (Germany) , which illustrated the
background of Bonhoeffer's intellectual formation, and Prof. John de Gruchy
(South Africa), who highlighted the significance of Bonhoeffer as
"Christian Humanist for Today". His humanism, said de Gruchy, is "deeply
rooted in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ"; a humanism
that "is shaped not just by education, but also by a genuine encounter with
'the other', a humanism that is fashioned in the struggle for truth and
justice against dehumanizing power, a humanism that is deepened through
suffering, yet one that is always affirming human goodness against
perversity, hope against despair, and life against death".
The Congress will close on Friday 11 June. For more information please
refer to our website www.bonhoeffercongress.org or phone Luca Negro, (0039)
335 68 69 974.
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