Becoming Human: My Confession and Response to the Mythologizing of Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Patrick Freund

Linda Thomas at CTS eventWhere I teach – the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago – we do a lot of talking about the Rev. Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A spy for the German Resistance, scholar and pastor, professor and widely-respected author and public commentator, there is much to admire about him. But Bonhoeffer was human, as seminarian Patrick Freund is eager to point out. Patrick wrote this piece upon my request, as a student in his final year of seminary,  and as a response to Dr. Williams’ lecture at LSTC earlier this semester. For Patrick felt that for all of his greatness, Bohoeffer’s faults, too, are particularly instructive for white Christians and seminarians coming to consciousness about race in the United States.  Read, comment, and share!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor – “We Talk. We Listen.”

Dr. Reggie Williams at the burial location for the human remains and ashes at the Flossenburg concentration camp, site of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s execution (video).

At the beginning of his Lutheran Heritage lecture last month, Dr. Reggie Williams made two observations about Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s early life:

1) That the portion of his life which biographers term his “Academic Period” was spent in the predominantly racist context of the Weimar Republic, and…

2) That during this time he also travelled to the United States of America, where he “experienced developments in his understanding of himself as a white Christian.”[1]

Dr. Williams continued that when these observations are considered as correlated, two things become apparent:

“First, Bonhoeffer’s struggle was both external against Nazi racism as idealized conceptions of humanity and community and internal with a conflicted interpretation of himself as a western Christian. Second, the struggles he engaged in a racist society and with a conflicted self are as relevant today for his readers as they were for Bonhoeffer years ago. He engaged in both struggles for the remainder of his natural life, and we can learn from him for our own battles that we must wage today.”

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This impacted me in a major way. From my point of view, Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been popularly sainted in the Lutheran cannon. In the popular imagination we have stripped him of his sinfulness so that we can see him as the pure and virtuous Lutheran Pastor who stood up to Hitler and the Nazis, and eventually died a martyr’s death. Bonhoeffer’s speech and action is a life of bearing witness to Christ; living into a daring trust and living out a bold faith. We cannot, however, forget that his struggle was not simply that of a virtuous person against an immoral, amoral, and devastating regime. His struggle was internal too. From early on, he was swimming in philosophical waters littered with flotsam and jetsam of racial pseudo-science. He saw the German people as being a superior people. He was familiar with concepts such as “Biologism,” which sought to explain human culture and behave as an aspect inextricably woven into race and biology. While he fought National Socialism externally, he wrestled with his own racism internally, and he died a racist.

This is painful to admit. But necessary.

Its necessary, because I know that I too have grown up in a racist society. I have grown up in a society that claims that all are equal in the eyes of the law but incarcerates Black and Brown men at a staggeringly higher rate than white men. I grew up in a society that ghettoized, stigmatized, and disenfranchised peoples of color while claiming to be the land of opportunity. I grew up in a society where I didn’t need to fear police brutality. I grew up white and middle class in the context of white middle class South Jersey. I spent my teens white and middle class in the context of white middle class Richmond, Virginia. It really wasn’t until I came to seminary that I realized that “America” doesn’t look like me, and Jesus doesn’t either. I think that this is what Bonhoeffer realized during his time in New York, which led to his internal and external struggles.

This has been my struggle too. I grew up in what was often called “post-racial America,” or “colorblind America.” And yet through the media and the cultural waters in which I was formed, I was conditioned to fear Black people.

I was conditioned to to equate drugs, poverty, and violence with Black people. I am racist because I living in and benefit from a racist system. What’s more, I’m racist because I was raised in a racist society. Racism is systemic. This must be affirmed. Racism is individual too. And this cannot be denied. I can relate to Bonhoeffer’s inner struggle. I struggle within myself everyday.

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I struggle against the thoughts and the feelings that arise within me, unsolicited and unwarranted, which bid me to deny the spark of God that has been implanted in every human. I struggle against the impulse to check “wallet, keys, cellphone” when approaching young Black men on the sidewalk. Especially the day after a “Security Alert” email is sent out. I struggle against the conflation of issues such poverty, drug use, and homelessness with my conception of the Black experience. I struggle.

When Bonhoeffer died, he was still struggling. And that struggle tells me that God wasn’t done with him until the day he died. I believe this because I know that I struggle, and I will continue to struggle all my life with the many and various ways that I seek to deny humanity to my siblings in Christ or my siblings in Noah. I am still human.

But, I also know that God isn’t done with me.

God isn’t done with us.

And the struggle cannot simply be internal.

God calls us to the external struggle for justice and humanity in many and varied ways. As I prepare to go on internship, I am looking to where God will be calling me to struggle externally in my new context. And leaving this place, I have regrets about the opportunities I did not take. I never went to a meeting of Seminarians for Justice, because my fear prevented me. I never marched, because my fear prevented me. I never preached, because my fear prevented me. I never took the Red Line to 95th, because me fear prevented me.


If you are a student who has more time here – especially if you are a white student, a cisgender student, a straight student, a male student, a middle class student, natural-born U.S. citizen student, or any combination of characteristics from which you benefit from being a part of the “majority,” do not leave seminary with the same regrets that I am. Explore the ways in which God may be calling you to struggle for justice internally and externally. This is a call that you received at baptism, a call that resounds your whole life long. God is calling you to struggle for justice internally and externally while you are here, in and out of the classroom. Take advantage of answering for the now, while you are here.

And answer the call in different ways.

Try answering the calls that put you out of your comfort zone. Not everyone is called to march, or organize, and that’s okay. Not everyone is called to write and teach, and that’s okay. But everyone is called to participate. If you march and organize, do not despise those who don’t. If you teach and write, do not despise those who don’t. But in whatever you do, strive for the justice that comes with faithful witness to Christ. We are paradoxical creatures. God calls us to affirm the humanity in each other. Our own humanness gives us the capacity to see God’s own loving image in others as well as attempts to prevent us from doing so.

But God is not done with us.

1175397_10202066809055372_1572783268_nPatrick Freund is a third-year M.Div. student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

[1]     Williams, Reggie. “Becoming Human: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Theological Confrontation with White Supremacy.” Lutheran Heritage Lecture, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Chicago, April 3, 2017. All quotations are transcribed from the lecture recording, and the author takes all responsibility for any mistakes in transcription herein.

Reflections on Bonhoeffer and Politics in Our Time – Rev. Dr. Reggie Williams

ThomasLinda sittingDr. Reggie Williams is going to be a guest on my seminary campus today – sharing some of his insights into Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his interaction with white supremacy. To help get the conversation started, Dr. Williams has shared this blog post with us, helping to give a bit deeper bit of history into Bonhoeffer’s context – a reflection that has uncanny resonance in today’s political climate, even though it was originally written almost one year ago. Read, comment, and share, friends!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor –“We Talk. We Listen.”

In the summer of 2015, I visited Germany for research and to speak with German Bonhoeffer scholars about my study of Bonhoeffer’s year as a post-doctoral student in New York, 1930-31. The German Bonhoeffer scholars were eager to know about Bonhoeffer’s encounter with white supremacy in America, and my time with them was inspiring. While there I learned that white supremacy remains a problem in Germany long after the fall of the Third Reich and the end of efforts by the Deutsche Christen (Nazi sympathizing German Christians), to unify the protestant church in Germany under the Führer, giving Hitler authority to enforce a pure-blood Aryan Germany by power extending from the government into the church.

This propoganda photo depicts Hitler as a pious Christian, hat in hand as he leaves church, standing under a cross. Hitler needed Christian support in Germany for his Nazi party to gain majority power in government.

Yet broadly speaking, Germans appear to have responded differently to the history of their overtly racist Nazi government than America has to its overtly racist history of slavery and Jim Crow laws. For example, it’s unlikely that one would find streets, schools, buildings, or monuments named for Nazis, the Nazi government or its military, as one would find streets, schools, buildings and monuments to confederate soldiers, members of the KKK, and historically notable overt racists in America. Indeed, the longing in America for bygone days of greatness is nostalgia for the history of Americas overtly racist past, and sounds eerily familiar to the yearning that helped fuel the mobilization of Hitler’s regime in the wake of WWI. Joblessness, economic insecurity, and the aftermath of war were part of the soil from which the overtly racist Nazi government grew, helping to dismantle and berate the outgoing Weimar democratic government for it’s supposed immorality and failure to address the economic crisis in Germany that was actually impacting the whole world in the global Great Depression, and not Germany alone. What is most relevant for understanding the struggle that Dietrich Bonhoeffer waged in Germany was his attention to the Deutsche Christen, German Christian Nazi loyalists who were Christian conduits of hatred, and co-laborers with Hitler in efforts to secure an ideal community populated with ideal humans.

Bonhoeffer was an outspoken member of the Confessing Church Movement. To say “Confessing Church” is to say a “creedal” church, which is to say, a movement committed to the creeds of the faith. This movement stood in opposition to German Christians who sought political oneness with the Nazi government. Yet in the confessing Church movement, Bonhoeffer was more radical than his peers. It is one thing to claim devotion to the creeds and demand the traditional separation of church and state, which is what most in the Movement were doing. It is quite another to declare oneself in direct opposition to the government in general, for it’s treatment of its citizens. That is the position that Bonhoeffer found himself in, and it put him at odds with many members of the Confessing Church Movement. Bonhoeffer was politically outspoken, which was highly uncommon for a German. He was an untypically political, outspoken German Lutheran pastor and theologian. He came to recognize that the lordship of Christ over all of life to means concrete obedience to God by paying as much attention to his neighbor’s needs for justice as his own.

In October of 1941, Nazis began deporting Jews from Berlin to the Lodz Ghetto, which was a halfway stop on the way to the concentration camps. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Fredrich Justus Perels Documented that very first deportation of Jews in a public letter, publicizing Nazi racist hostility. This photo is of the memorial site, Track 17, in Berlin. It is the train station from where Jews were deported. The deportation that Bonhoeffer publicized in that first letter is identified at the memorial as the first deportation.

Bonhoeffer was indebted to his time in Harlem, New York for developments in his theology that had him valuing social justice as a core component of the way of Jesus, leading inevitably to speaking up for his neighbor against a politically oppressive government. The way of Jesus and the person of Jesus were not separate for Bonhoeffer. Hence, seeing needs and acting on behalf of those needs just as Christ acts on our behalf describes who Jesus is as Stellvertretung, our vicarious representative before God, and the one who is for us. Stellvertretung also describes what Jesus does; Christ responds with action, to the needs of others. To claim to be a Christian and live comfortably in non-action as your neighbor is disparaged and abused is to rely on cheap grace, rather than the costly grace of discipleship.

Bonhoeffer picked up this extensive bibliography of Harlem Renaissance literature from the Schomburg Library, at 135th and Lennox, in Harlem. IT is an extensive list of the popular works that he no doubt was reading, while he was also attending Abyssinian Baptist Church, in Harlem. He brought this bibliography back to German with him, where it remains among his papers in Berlin.

Bonhoeffer opposed Christians in Germany who were enthusiastic about Hitler’s efforts to make Germany great again by reviving the splendor of Germany’s past. In the process of reviving the past, people became scapegoats for their current problems; humans became rubbish to discard, or symbols of the nations greatness. In either case, everyone’s humanity was distorted by the dream of the ideal community. Bonhoeffer argued that because Christ is the vicarious representative for all humanity, in every social encounter we have, we interact with Christ. Other persons are not objects that can be discarded, nor are they symbols for boasting; human interaction represents the site of our concrete obedience to Christ.

Race logic trains the racist to see humanity in the ideal only, and others as objects of derision. That is the history of whiteness, and the creation of race. The superior race is the template of ideal humanity. Christians who espouse racism despise Christ in concrete encounter with others.

This photo taken in the memorial at the Floessenburg Concentration Camp, depicts the signage worn by prisoners in the camp, indicating their crime. It is an indication of the various offenses that would cause one to be incarcerated by the Nazis: Political prison, career criminal, emigrants (foreign forced laborers), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Homosexuals (sexual minorities), and asocial (this black triangle included Roma, Pacifists, mentally ill, vagrants, anarchists, etc…). Bonhoeffer spent one night in this camp. He was murdered in the morning.

That was the danger that Bonhoeffer saw in the Nazi worldview that made it’s way into the church in Germany. Within weeks of his return from New York in the summer of 1931, Bonhoeffer penned a catechism with his Jewish friend, Franz Hildebrandt, for the training of young Lutherans in the faith. Together with Hildebrandt Bonhoeffer borrowed from the worldview he was immersed in, in Harlem, to describe Christian social responsibility. Bonhoeffer claimed that “ethnic pride” is sin against the Holy Spirit, and argued, “as much as the Christian would like to remain distant from political struggle, nonetheless, even he re the commandment of love urges the Christian to stand up for his neighbor.” The concept of the ideal person and ideal community is courier of the “ethnic pride” inside of the concept of the Aryan. In Germany ethnic pride included the language of “blood and soil,” the loyalty to Volk, and the Nazi concept of the Aryan, or Herrenrasse, master race. In America the concept of the Aryan was simply the understanding of humanity that accompanied white people, only. Ethnic pride, or white supremacy, keeps Christians from being able to love their real neighbor, which is to say, from loving Christ who is vicarious representative. Bonhoeffer saw racism as a singular problem for Christians. Indeed, Bonhoeffer described ethnic pride as an unpardonable sin because it is concrete opposition to the presence and work of God in the world, in Christ.

Remains of the special barracks at Floessenburg concentration camp where Bonhoeffer spent his final night.

In our current political climate we’ve faced a similar employment shortages, financial insecurity, and war, in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the great depression. Acerbic rhetoric about racial, national, and religious others heightens loyalties to the slogan “make America great again” and fuels practices of dehumanization, turning real human beings into scapegoats of American white supremacy. In this climate we find many Christians energized by the rhetoric and endorsing the politics that it supports. One might say that the effort to “make America great again” has them giving their devotion to a god who resembles the embodied symbol of that national greatness, idealized white humanity, in pursuit of the ideal community, rather than practice concrete service to God by loving their real neighbor. In this climate, following Christ is not popular. Indeed it has never been popular. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is actually willing to pay the cost of discipleship.

reggiewilliams-cropThe Rev. Dr. Reggie 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. Dr. Williams is also a member of the American Academy of Religion and Society for the Study of Black Religion. Dr. Williams’ research interests are primarily focused on Christological hermeneutics, and Christian morality. He has a particular interest in how the Western-world understanding of Christianity has been calibrated to a false ideal that corresponds with racialized interpretations of humanity, morality, and Jesus. 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. 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. Reggie lives in Flossmoor, Illinois with his wife Stacy. They are the proud parents of a son, Darion, and a daughter, Simone.

Christ-Centered Concreteness: The Christian Activism of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr. – Rev. Dr. Reggie Williams, McCormick Theological Seminary

Picture 002The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Rev. Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer – two names which resound deeply among many Christians across the globe. Both were preachers, eager to bring their people into firmer alignment with God. Both were thinkers, always up-to-date on the ways that Christianity interacted with the social sciences, politics, and the day-to-day lives of their people. And both were martyrs – one for fighting tireless against the institutions and attitudes of white supremacy in the United States, the other for his effort to assassinate one of the greatest tyrants the world had ever known. Reggie Williams puts these two men side by side in this week’s post, and gives us a chance to see how we can learn from their powerful witness – a fitting way to begin this week, honoring Dr. King’s life, legacy, and work.

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor – “We Talk. We Listen.”

Years ago, I attended a large two-day evangelical men’s conference in Oakland, California. One particular conference speaker left a strong impression as he enthusiastically argued a point about the obvious correlation between Christian men and virtue. He told us to imagine walking through a dimly lit alley late at night, to see “a group of guys” approaching us at a distance. “Would it make a difference for your peace of mind,” he said, “if you knew that the men approaching you at night in that dark alley were coming from a bar, or from a Bible study?” The answer was apparently obvious,  “Of course it would make a difference!” the speaker said. “You’d certainly feel better if you knew they were coming from a Bible Study!” According to the conference speaker, it’s self-evident that Christians aren’t dangerous; they are virtuous, caring people.

The speaker framed a picture of Christian men that conference attendees were certain was real. He stoked their zeal to believe that Christian men were a better brand of human being. The story inspired attendees to feel great about themselves, and to claim their divinely ordained leadership roles. But it was a story that was swimming in rhetoric, and it was hiding something. Who was this “we” he was referring to, who would feel safe as non-descript, ubiquitous Christian men approached?

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther king Jr. were Christian pastors and theologians who expose the lie within the rhetoric of intrinsic Christian virtue. They were pastors who advocated a Christian life that privileged justice as the way of Jesus, not individual virtue or morality. Within their social contexts they faced violent opposition from “virtuous” people who identified chiefly as Christian. Bonhoeffer’s major opponents were members of the German Christians movement who engaged in violence towards people who were not idealized Aryan, hetero, Germans. His opponents sought to make Germany great again by enabling Adolf Hitler as head of the church and the country.[1] In America, Martin Luther King Jr. was spokesperson for the modern civil right’s movement that was operationalized by black churches. Participants in the civil rights movement practiced non-cooperation with the political, economic, and social structures that have historically been organized and maintained by white supremacy. The resistance that Bonhoeffer and King met from Christians illustrates that the mere label “Christian” does not indicate that one is, or intends to be, virtuous, or concerned about the well being of others. Nor does it identify that one is following the way of Jesus. What matter’s most is our actual understanding of the way of Jesus.

The influence that Bonhoeffer and King placed on the Sermon on the Mount helped both of them to see justice as core to the way of Jesus. King’s advocacy of social justice drew directly from it, connecting what he admired of Gandhi, with  “love ethic” he saw in the Sermon on the Mount, to provide the necessary guidance to confront evil in society.[2] Bonhoeffer’s understanding of Hitler’s evil and his brave opposition against him was influenced by his read of the Sermon. In Discipleship, Bonhoeffer argued that the Sermon on the Mount represents concrete commandments that Jesus expects followers to follow, concretely.

Rev. Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

He argued that the Sermon is not a set of high ideals meant to demonstrate how impossible it is to please God, which often leads to a form of “cheap grace” that enables Christians to practice a confident defiance of God. Bonhoeffer interpreted the incarnation as a moment that fundamentally changed reality, and helped guide faithfulness. In the incarnation Christ took “the world up into himself … [thus] establish[ing] an ontological coherence”[3] of God’s reality with the reality of the world and the reunion of God with the world.[4] The reunion that occurred between God and creation in the incarnate One was accomplished in Christ, and became the new reality. Thus to behave responsibly is to act in accordance with the Christ-centered reality brought about by the incarnation. Responsible action is “the entire response, in accord with reality, to the claim of God and my neighbor” as demonstrated by the reunion of God and creation in the incarnation. [5]

With Bonhoeffer, Christianity is not described by a personal relationship with God, evidenced by adherence to a lifestyle of family values or virtues: responsible Christian action is active acceptance of “the responsibility which has been established in Christ.”[6] Bonhoeffer’s use of Stellvertretung translated as vicarious representative action, or, empathetic incarnational representative, describes Bonhoeffer’s emphasis on Christ’s acting in solidarity with others. Stellvertretung is who Jesus is and what Jesus does; Jesus’ vicarious representative action “restores communion between God and [humanity] and Christ becomes God’s sacrifice in my place.[7] Stellvertretung also describes what Jesus expects of us. We recognize and interact with Jesus in social encounters with others. Indeed, we always, only interact with others through Christ, since Christ has become vicarious representation for all of humanity before God, and before one another. Without Christ, the only freedom we know is no freedom at all. It is freedom from one another, with our heart turned inward on itself. Christ, who is for us, enables our release from the bondage of the heart turned inwards, to be free for God and one another.  This understanding of the person and work of God establishes our understanding of the person and work of Jesus, not in abstract doctrine, but in social interaction with one another.


King’s Christology also emphasized Jesus’ being in relationship.[8] King advocated nonviolent resistance to social evil, emphasizing the value of redemptive suffering for changing the hearts of both victim and perpetrator.[9] He saw the power of God in the universe actively siding with justice—on the side of love and restoration, not hate and destruction. He often claimed, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”[10] King understood God to be just and loving: “I am convinced that the universe is under the control of a loving purpose, and that in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship. Behind the harsh appearances of the world there is a benign power.”[11] The “benign power” has advocates and opponents: those who actively participate in the Christ-informed drama of neighbor love, or those who ultimately fail as they oppose it.

Thus for both men, Christ-liken-ess did not consist of intangible high ideals, but of our active faithfulness to God demonstrated by our pursuit of justice.


There is an interesting correlation between their interpretations of the incarnate One, and the structure of the moral and loving universe. With both of them, Christians are meant to obey the call of God on our lives in daily praxis, pushing back against social evil, and guided by Christ-centered claims that promote community. Those claims may require us to contradict what may be accepted as popular moral norms, possibly defying political structures that have legalized injustice. Following Christ makes the moral arc of the universe more than an ideal; it is not a what, but a “who.” He is the incarnate Stellvertretung (for Bonhoeffer), and he is “love-correcting-what-would-work-against-love (for MLK).”[12] Christian discipleship is oriented towards praxis, becomes the moral standard in the universe, and the incarnate One determines good and bad, right and wrong incarnationally, in concrete daily social encounters, as we collectively participate with God in Christ, in the concreteness of daily life.

christian-service-100When disciples observed Christ’s behavior in context, law-breaking and norm-defying behavior is not sin; he who is performing the work of delivering love is the standard and the norm. He does the things that seem to the onlooker to be sin, yet he is consistently enacting neighbor love; he is Word and concomitantly the standard of judgment and the final judge. He is the lawbreaker, judging our social standards, disrupting practices of injustice and political oppression for the sake of justice, restoration, and a new relationship between God, humanity, and the Beloved Community. It is humiliated and sinful flesh that he carries, but it is he, the standard by which all standards are measured, and the one who is the final judge who carries it. [13] The incarnate One is the en-fleshed moral arc of the universe that is bent towards justice, when we take both arguments into account.

Christian obedience is not determined by the appearance of a moral or virtuous individual life, but by embodied faithfulness to the incarnate One. The Word made flesh is the concrete guidance that mediates our social interaction and inspiration for resistance to injustice.  His “way” as articulated in scripture and mediated in community, will always be in favor of neighbor love demonstrated as justice, sometimes in opposition to popular norms, but always in favor of the oppressed. Hence, in that dimly lit alleyway, we should not be so comforted by the label of Christian, or that they read their Bible. What we’d want to know is do they know the One who embodies love and justice?


ReggieWilliams-Crop.jpegThe Rev. Dr. Reggie Williams before becoming Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary in 2012, he 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. Dr. Williams’ research interests are primarily focused on Christological hermeneutics, and Christian morality. He has a particular interest in how the Western-world understanding of Christianity has been calibrated to a false ideal that corresponds with racialized interpretations of humanity, morality, and Jesus. His current projects include an analysis of the developments within Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology and ethics, as a result of his experience in the Harlem Renaissance, 1930-31. Reggie lives in Flossmoor, Illinois with his wife Stacy. They are the proud parents of a son, Darion, and a daughter, Simone.


[1] See Reggie L. Williams, Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance (Waco, Tx: Baylor University Press, forthcoming)

[2] Martin Luther King and Clayborne Carson, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr (New York: Intellectual Properties Management in association with Warner Books, 1998), p. 23.

[3] See quote from Eberhard Bethge in Larry L. Rasmussen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Reality and Resistance (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005), p. 16.

[4] See Bonhoeffer and Bethge p. 222 in Rasmussen p. 37

[5] DBWE 6:280

[6] Ibid

[7] Rasmussen, p. 38.

[8] Roberts.

[9] Martin Luther King and James Melvin Washington, A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr, 1st ed. ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986), p. 41.

[10] King and Washington, p. 252.

[11] Martin Luther King, Strength to Love, 1st Fortress Press ed. ed. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981), p. 153.

[12] Cone, p. 62.

[13] Bonhoeffer, p. 106.