Dietrich Bonhoeffer is many things to many people—committed pacifist, reluctant revolutionary, Protestant saint but in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics of Formation, Ryan Huber argues that Bonhoeffer should be engaged as a Christian ethicist of formation. Huber demonstrates that formation lies at the heart of Bonhoeffer’s ethical project and personal story, providing a third way between virtue and character ethics in contemporary Christian thought concerned with moral growth.
Bonhoeffer's life and writings as a pastor and an educator and his imprisonment and death in a Nazi prison are well known to many interested in Christian ethics. Even so, readers are likely to be unfamiliar with the many scholarly studies of Bonhoeffer's writing, including writing in which he articulates his concept of how formation can provide a bridge between Catholic virtue ethics and Protestant character ethics. Huber (Fuller Theological Seminary) provides a helpful survey of how the theologian's ethics were formed by and influential in each stage, and he supports this with a review of many of the textual studies of Bonhoeffer's work published in the decades since his death, at the hands of the Nazis, in 1945. Huber concludes by explaining why he considers Bonhoeffer's ethics of formation important for contemporary Christian ethics. A solid resource for scholars. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. * Choice * Ryan Huber's new treatment of the ethics of (con)formation in Dietrich Bonhoeffer is first-rate in every way: engagement with the most relevant primary and secondary sources; historical and biographical awareness; theological, ethical, and literary analysis; and clarity of communication. Huber succeeds in showing the centrality of Bonhoeffer's Christological account of formation for his theological ethics, and also succeeds in the harder task of indicating how Bonhoeffer lived this reality and did not just theorize about it. This is a substantial and important contribution to the understanding of Bonhoeffer's thought and life. I will make use of it immediately in my teaching. -- David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University Huber offers a new and creative reading of Bonhoeffer as an "ethicist of formation" that illustrates how Bonhoeffer's intellectual work as a Christian theologian was very much the outcome and expression of his lived faith. Huber's approach offers new insights into Bonhoeffer's understanding of vocation, ethics, and discipleship and is immensely helpful in showing the continuities between Discipleship and Ethics. -- Victoria J. Barnett, General Editor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition Bonhoeffer has been a magnetic figure for Christians and others hungry for a model of genuine Christian discipleship and public responsibility of intellectuals. Stacks of books have already been published on Bonhoeffer's influential life and writings, but Huber's book Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Ethics of Formation stands as a remarkable achievement. Through a rigorous study of Bonhoeffer's writings and his biographical and historical context, Huber offers an original and compelling interpretation of Bonhoeffer's ethics from the perspective of "formation." I strongly recommend this creative and timely book to everyone who is interested in Bonhoeffer's life and work and Christian moral formation. -- Hak Joon Lee, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary In this careful and important study, Huber convincingly demonstrates the centrality of Christformation not only for Bonhoeffer's theological work in Ethics, but also for Bonhoeffer's personal life and vocation. Huber's work is a crucial addition to those rare attempts in Bonhoeffer studies that aim to offer us a holistic, integrative view of Bonhoeffer's life and work. -- Jens Zimmermann, Trinity Western University