10/28/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – The Ashland University Religion Department is hosting a lecture by Reggie Williams, the author of “Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance.” The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall in the Dwight Schar College of Education.
Williams is assistant professor of Christian Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary. He is a member of the International Dietrich Bonhoeffer Society, as well as the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and a founding member of the Society for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Religion.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer publicly confronted Nazism and anti-Semitic racism in Hitler’s Germany. The Reich’s political ideology, when mixed with theology of the German Christian movement, turned Jesus into a divine representation of the ideal, racially pure Aryan and allowed race-hate to become part of Germany’s religious life. Bonhoeffer provided a Christian response to Nazi atrocities.
In his book, Williams follows Bonhoeffer as he defies Germany with Harlem’s black Jesus. The Christology Bonhoeffer learned in Harlem’s churches featured a black Christ who suffered with African Americans in their struggle against systemic injustice and racial violence—and then resisted. In the pews of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, under the leadership of Adam Clayton Powell Sr., Bonhoeffer absorbed the Christianity of the Harlem Renaissance. This Christianity included a Jesus who stands with the oppressed rather than joins the oppressors and a theology that challenges the way God can be used to underwrite a union of race and religion.
Williams argues that the black American narrative led Dietrich Bonhoeffer to the truth that obedience to Jesus requires concrete historical action. This ethic of resistance not only indicted the church of the German Volk, but also continues to shape the nature of Christian discipleship today.
Williams’ book will be for sale at the lecture. For more information about the event, contact Dr. Craig Hovey, associate professor of religion, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###