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A Journey of Christian Human Responsibility: Harvey Cox’s Appropriation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer


[1] Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theology and life inspires a multitude of responses, ranging from passionate opposition to a dangerous thinker all the way to emphatic embrace of a saint. With a large body of contemporary discussion partners included in those responses, Bonhoeffer's influence extends far beyond the theological society that bears his name. Stephen Haynes' recent The Bonhoeffer PhenomenonFN3010 helpfully identifies a typology of the spectrum of responses to Bonhoeffer from the radical seer to conservative apostle to prophet and more. Like all typologies, Haynes' categories are instructive so long as one does not become a slave to the pure types and seek to force modest examples into a precast mold. Harvard's Harvey Cox, a significantly influential theologian over the past forty years, has acknowledged his debt to Dietrich Bonhoeffer all along the way in Cox's colorful theological career. From 1965's landmark The Secular CityFN3011 through When Jesus Came to HarvardFN3012 (2004) , Cox's thought has borne witness to Bonhoeffer's influence-an influence of both life and thought. Even though the "radical theology" of The Secular City has colored many an interpreter's view of Cox, Cox has a readily manifest concern with biblical faith critically engaged with the contemporary world that goes far beyond the legacy of radical theology. Haynes' Bonhoeffer Phenomenon interprets Harvey Cox's appropriation of Bonhoeffer only through the lens of radical theology. However, Bonhoeffer's influence on Cox is much richer than just the catchphrase of radical theology or the type of "seer." This article seeks to follow the influence of Bonhoeffer on Harvey Cox over five decades.

Haynes on Bonhoeffer and Cox
[2] The Bonhoeffer Phenomenon provides a typology for decoding the spectrum of interpretations of Bonhoeffer that have flourished since his death in 1945. Asking the question "who is Bonhoeffer for us?" Haynes answers with a set of categories. Bonhoeffer is the Seer for Radical Christianity, the Prophet for Liberal Christianity, the Apostle for Evangelical Christianity, and a universal Bridge not limited to Christianity. Haynes moves from those interpretations of Bonhoeffer to interpretations of the mechanisms of sainthood, cult and domestication that structure much of the continuing commitment to Bonhoeffer's witness and thought.

[3] In Haynes' typology, Harvey Cox joins Gabriel Vahanian and Paul van Buren and others in giving form to Radical Christianity's appropriation of Bonhoeffer as seer. For this group of theologians, Bonhoeffer sees beyond traditional Christianity into a daunting new world of secular "modern man." Associated with the "death of God" theologians, Cox is characterized from his Secular City period as representing this approach. This early period of Cox's thought draws primarily on Letters and Papers from Prison.FN3013 The prison Bonhoeffer's "religionless Christianity" provides "clues" for humanity as it grapples with secularization. However, Cox was not so much a death of God theologian as a theologian who tried to relate the Christian faith to secularity and human freedom in the 1960's. For Haynes, the radical theologians saw Bonhoeffer the seer as a transitional figure or as "prescient mind who glimpsed the lineaments of new era."FN3014 Haynes' Cox views Bonhoeffer as a transitional figure from Christendom to "the new era of urban secularity."FN3015 Haynes provides a thoughtful assessment of both radical Christianity's appropriation of Bonhoeffer and the continuing responses to that appropriation. However, Haynes never returns to Cox's appropriation of Bonhoeffer after the chapter on radical Christianity. He makes no further consideration of Cox's continuing use of Bonhoeffer as a resource for contemporary spirituality and theological reflection even though such consideration would have been particularly appropriate when analyzing the mechanisms of sainthood and cult as part of the Bonhoeffer legacy.FN3016

Cox on Bonhoeffer
[4] In 1965 Harvey Cox published The Secular City: Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective while he was still under the heady influence of studying in divided Berlin of the early Sixties. It became a best seller that generated considerable discussion beyond academic circles. Drawing on the Bonhoeffer of EthicsFN3017 and Letters and Papers from Prison, Cox argued for a reading of the gospel that did not fear secularization. Instead Cox found God in both the "religious" and the "secular" realms of human life. This emphasis has direct roots in Bonhoeffer.FN3018

[5] Cox will go on to cite Bonhoeffer's example for the need for Christians to "speak of God in a secular fashion and find a nonreligious interpretation of biblical concepts."FN3019 While Cox would work out this nonreligious interpretation in terms of a secular style of pragmatism and profanity, this represents a development from Bonhoeffer and not Bonhoeffer himself. Cox is probably on safer ground drawing on a theme of profanity to refer to "the disappearance of any supramundane reality defining [humanity's] life,"11 for this has fair roots in Bonhoeffer's work.12 However, Cox's appropriation of pragmatism has more of the "can do" American pragmatism than it does of Bonhoeffer's spirit.

[6] While critiquing Paul Tillich, Cox more naturally finds a common cause between Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth and asserts human freedom to shape and form the world.FN3022 However, later eyes probably find Cox's generous assessment of the ability of human freedom to shape the world a little optimistic.

[7]The Secular City's final chapter, "To Speak of God in a Secular Fashion," echoes Bonhoeffer, and Cox begins with Bonhoeffer's original citation of the phrase in the April 30, 1944 prison letter.FN3023 After discussing speaking of God in both sociological and political contexts, Cox addresses "speaking of God" as a theological question. Here Cox makes the turn together with Bonhoeffer to Jesus:
In Jesus, God refuses to fulfill either tribal expectations or philosophical quandaries. As Bonhoeffer says, in Jesus God is teaching man to get along without Him, to become mature, freed from infantile dependencies, fully human. … God … will not perpetuate human adolescence, but insists on turning the world over to man as his responsibility.FN3024

[8] In the introductory essay to the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of The Secular City, Cox sees a thrust toward liberation rooted in the way he had drawn on Bonhoeffer. That thrust was subsequently taken up in the theological project of Latin American liberation theology. While religion may have had more staying power than Bonhoeffer believed, Cox continued to affirm Bonhoeffer at critical points---citingBonhoeffer's call in his prison letters for us to "share the suffering of God in the world."16 Cox could qualify his most famous work, but he held firm to its basic trajectory and Bonhoeffer was at the heart of that trajectory.

[9] About the time of his cause celebre The Secular City, Cox continued to assert his commitment to Christian faith as a biblical call to human responsibility in On Not Leaving It to the Snake (1964, 1965, 1967).FN3026 Here Cox calls humans to avoid the sin of slothfully failing to take responsibility for life in this world. Bonhoeffer appears here as a prospective modern saint18 and as one who tells us that the Christ event means that we cannot look at the world without seeing God nor at God without seeing the world.FN3028

[10] Also from Cox's Secular City period, we find his 1965 contribution of God's Revolution and Man's Responsibility.FN3029 In this work, Cox acknowledges Bonhoeffer's influence on his thought. Cox draws on the prison letters to discuss worship and religion in a secular age which is guided by a calling to participate in the suffering of God in the world.21 While he generally draws on the prison letters, Cox will also cite related themes about worldly involvement from Bonhoeffer's Ethics.FN3031

[11] With the death of God theologians and radical Christianity having only a brief season in the popular sun, a variety of other theologies, including a theology of hope and a theology of play, came to the forefront of theological debate as the 1960s closed. In 1969's The Feast of Fools,FN3032 Cox returns to religion as a festive affair that remains politically engaged. The Feast of Fools responds to criticisms of The Secular City as Cox moves from the more rationalist to the more playful --- that is in Cox's terms from the Apollonian to the Dionysian.FN3033 Bonhoeffer only appears in the appendix or a note as a "theologian of the secular" whose nonreligious interpretation of the Gospel receives a counterpoint in the renewed assertions that human beings are religious beings.FN3034

[12] By 1973 Harvey Cox moved to a more autobiographical style, engaging in theological reflection as he reported on various developments of significance to world Christianity. The Seduction of the SpiritFN3035 is Cox's entry into this less traditionally academic mode of theologyFN3036 and Bonhoeffer's influence remains strong in Cox's thought. In the chapter "Beyond Bonhoeffer," Cox reflects at length about Bonhoeffer's enduring relevance for him-even as a personal matter-and about transitions in his thought and appropriation of Bonhoeffer.

[13] Cox once again recounts his year studying in Berlin at the beginning of the Christian-Marxist dialogue in the early 1960s. At this time, he moved from having read the earlier Bonhoeffer as a pietist to appropriating the later Bonhoeffer of the April 30, 1944 letter from prison as a significant guide. He readily acknowledges that by the early seventies the notion of religionless Christianity was an "anomaly"FN3037 to most theologians and Cox seeks to move from his Secular City position to reclaim a positive role for religion. Cox believes that in The Secular City he was attempting "to do for the American scene what Bonhoeffer had done for his."FN3038 But now Cox works through and beyond Freudian and Marxist critiques of religion as he asserts religion's continuing vitality in human endeavor. He realizes a mistake in opposing Gospel to religion.FN3039 Indeed, religion had entered his thinking again "as an inescapable part of any conceivable kind of Christianity."FN3040 As Cox will admit again in later years,

" I have never rejected the core of Bonhoeffer. I never will. He was looking for a this-worldly, politically viable, life-affirming expression of Christianity. For him this meant a new form which would leave behind most of what he associated with "religion." He was, and remains, right in his search, mistaken only in his terminology."FN3041

[14] As a personal and autobiographical matter, Cox confesses that Bonhoeffer's prison letters were important for him "because I have never felt I was particularly "religious" person. I had never had many of the feelings, experiences or even beliefs most people associate with being religious. I wanted a non-religious interpretation of Christianity not just for the Marxists. I needed it myself."FN3042

[15] In 1975, Cox reflected in the Christian Century on "The Secular City-Ten Years Later."FN3043 Acknowledging again his debt to Bonhoeffer, Cox notes that [then] 30 years after his death at Flossenburg that "Bonhoeffer's theology still presents us with what Barth called 'a peculiar thorn.' … Bonhoeffer's question [of how to speak of God] remains valid and urgent. It is no fad."35 While Cox questioned aspects of religionless Christianity, the theological issue of how to speak of God in a humanely responsible manner rather than in terms of traditional theistic metaphysics remained with him as a legacy of Bonhoeffer.

[16] In the 1970s as eastern religions began to make a significant impact on American perceptions of religion, Cox entered the fray with his interpretations of their impact in Turning East (1978).36 As he begins this phase of reporting on and interpreting the currents of "people's religion," Cox acknowledges himself as a disciple of Bonhoeffer's "religionless Christianity."FN3046 Once again Bonhoeffer's attack on the failure of the notion of God as a deus ex machina in the modern world returns and Jesus' death becomes the example of the failure of this notion of God as Big Brother.FN3047

[17] In the chapter "Toward a Spirituality of the Secular," Cox turns to Bonhoeffer as a significant source in constructing a "workable" contemporary spirituality.FN3048 Cox was seeking contemporary gurus to serve us as"post-modern Christians, whose exemplary lives and teachings help us eke out our own way of being."FN3049 As he noted aspects of Bonhoeffer's biography in passing---pastor, theologian, aristocrat, brilliant and cultured German, Cox finds in Bonhoeffer a "twentieth-century man par excellence, and yet a man of deep faith."FN3050 For Cox, the pacifist Bonhoeffer's participation in the plot to kill Hitler is critical, as it expresses an act of contemporary responsibility. Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison also embody critical aspects of Bonhoeffer's appeal. Further, Bonhoeffer's reliance on the "secret discipline" and a "cadre of compatriots" constitute vital links to the elements of teaching (dharma) and community (sangha) as the eastern religions brought them back to the attention of late twentieth-century Christians.

[18] As Cox's turn toward personal narrative as part of his theological reflection seriously began with The Seduction of the Spirit, in Just as I Am (1983)FN3051 he continued his use of autobiography as a form of theological expression. Not unexpectedly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer appears in this memoir. While Bonhoeffer does not feature in his discussion of the "Cloud of Witnesses" who have helped Cox on his journey of faith, that discussion focuses on people he has actually met. He includes friends and family and theologians such as Martin Luther King, Jr., James Luther Adams and Don Sergio Mendez Arceo. Where Bonhoeffer does appear in Cox's narrative, it relates to stressful situations involving confinement. Cox acknowledges Bonhoeffer as part of his life in recounting a jailing during the Civil Rights protests of the 1960s43 and his prayers during a terrifying stay in the Tehran airport during the hostage crisis. In Tehran, Cox's reflection on the practice of prayer involved a brief contrast of Bonhoeffer and Schleiermacher.FN3053 For Cox, the spirit of Schleiermacher's absolute dependence on God could call out to deity for aid in a way that the spirit of Cox's Bonhoeffer would view as call for magical deliverance. Yet for all of Cox's contortions over prayer, in addition to Schleiermacher's ghost, the spirit of Bonhoeffer's "secret discipline"FN3054 and perhaps even of Discipleship continues to hover over Cox.

[19] With the rise of both Latin American liberation theology and Christian fundamentalism in the early 1980's, Harvey Cox proceeded to interpret these movements and theologize in response to them in 1984's Religion in the Secular City.FN3055 In this effort, Cox forthrightly contends that Bonhoeffer's pursuitof a "religionless Christianity" was a mistake that contemporary theology can not follow.47 However, Bonhoeffer's relevance continued as resource for liberation theology in his emphasis on "a God who suffers with people in the world."FN3057 With respect to Cox's broader argument, Bonhoeffer serves as a resource for a contemporary methodological emphasis on energizing and doing theology from the periphery, bottom or edges rather than from the center as sources for modern theology.FN3058 Liberation theology's appropriation of Bonhoeffer is taken up in Haynes' category of the liberal Bonhoeffer as Prophet.50 Cox's continuing appropriation of Bonhoeffer in relation to liberation theology can be viewed as legitimately arising out of Cox's viewing Bonhoeffer as a Prophet.

[20] In 1988 Harvey Cox turns his eye to the questions elicited by interreligious understanding and the interaction among Christians and other faiths. Cox published Many Mansions.FN3060 For Harvey Cox, the move to attend to interreligious dialogue and interaction seems natural. There seems to be no serious religious trend that stands outside the reach of Cox's theological approach. Yet apart from Bonhoeffer's interest in traveling to India to learn from Ghandi, interreligious dialogue does not seem to naturally grow out of the confessional theology of the author of the Discipleship.FN3061 Indeed, while the question of a nonreligious interpretation of Christianity in a world come of age appears to be a natural partner for interreligious discussions, Bonhoeffer's nonreligious Christianity essentially dialogues with the outworking of the European Enlightenment and the death of traditional metaphysics---not with other faiths. However, Bonhoeffer's subsequent legacy would develop to be construed "in ecumenical, interfaith and universal terms."FN3062

[21] In Many Mansions, Cox only occasionally acknowledges Bonhoeffer, though Bonhoeffer is not central to his argument. With Bonhoeffer, Cox agrees that religion needs to be subject to criticism---just as Bonhoeffer critiqued the Christian faith of the German Christians.FN3067 FN3063 Once again Cox attends to Bonhoeffer's famous critique of deity as a deus ex machina in questioning appropriating the role of guru to Jesus-indeed, he refers to Bonhoeffer's memorable notion that "the only God who can help us is the one who cannot help."FN3064 While in 1978, Cox found Bonhoeffer to be a guru for a contemporary spiritual practice of the secular, ten years later he glances over Bonhoeffer as an exemplar of faith to attend to the more central issue of relating Jesus to the notion of guru. Cox contends for "a vision of religion reintegrated into the secular." Toward attaining that vision Cox cites Bonhoeffer's nonreligious interpretation of the Gospel and Bonhoeffer's desire to be a Christian by being fully human as being consistent with that vision.FN3065

[22] At the same time that Cox was interpreting interreligious encounters, he also continued his interest in liberation theology. In 1988's The Silencing of Leonardo Boff,FN3066 Cox chronicled the battle between liberation theologians and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) concerning the appropriate way to do theology. In this volume Bonhoeffer receives little attention. In the course of a meditation on holiness as mark of the church in relation to popular religion, Cox reaffirms that religion needs to be subject to criticism---just as Bonhoeffer critiqued the Christian faith of the German Christians. In Haynes' terms, this critical patriotism by Bonhoeffer resonates with Bonhoeffer as the liberal prophet.

[23] Neither Bonhoeffer nor Cox would qualify as Pentecostals, but both men would live out an intense ecumenism and in the twenty-first century Christian ecumenism has to engage the massive stream of Pentecostal Christianity if it is to remain a credible expression Christian faith. While Bonhoeffer was active in pre-World War II ecumenical affairs, his exposure to vibrant African American Christianity probably represents his closest contact with a "spirit-driven" form of faith.FN3068 The liberal Baptist Cox is not naturally associated with Pentecostal Christian spirituality. However, with the trajectory of his career in attending to biblical faith and the manifestation of people's religion leading him, it does not surprise many observers that Harvey Cox might attend to the groundswell of growth in Pentecostalism across the globe. In 1995, Cox published Fire from Heaven,FN3069 in which he reported on the rise of this Spirit-driven form of Christianity. While Bonhoeffer and Cox both share a commitment to vital and ecumenical Christian faith, it does seem surprising that Cox can describe this form of Christianity without drawing on the influence of Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer does not appear in Fire from Heaven though perhaps he lurks in the background.

[24] By 2001, Cox leads his readers on a Jewish-Christian journey through the Jewish calendar in Common Prayer.FN3070 In this effort, Bonhoeffer only makes a couple of appearances. Early on as Cox leads us into Rosh ha-Shanah and its traditional text about Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac, Cox will bring us to Kierkegaard and Bonhoeffer. Cox cites the pacifist Bonhoeffer's participation in the plot to kill Hitler as an instance of sacrificing the highest moral code he knew because of God's claim.62 Later on, when meditating on the Holocaust as a Christian, Cox will once again cite Bonhoeffer's theology of a world come of age where we can not go to deus ex machina to deliver us. For Cox, for Jews and Christians alike the "moral is that it is now up to us."FN3072 Here Cox maintains faith with his appropriation of Bonhoeffer as he took it in The Secular City. However, Cox does not attend to the specific details of Bonhoeffer's relationship to Judaism as a matter of resistance to the Nazis or a matter of theological reflection.

[25] In 2004, as Cox reflected back on decades of teaching a class on Jesus and the moral life at Harvard University, Dietrich Bonhoeffer again surfaces as a critical element in Cox's thought. Approaching forty years of teaching at Harvard and in his seventies, Cox published those reflections in When Jesus Came to Harvard. In this reflection he devotes a chapter, "A World without God," to Bonhoeffer. That chapter constitutes a meditation on Jesus' cry of forsakenness from the cross ("My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"). In his argument as a whole, Cox's reflections describe an approach to moral reasoning rooted in the story of Jesus, the Bible, narrative and the imagination.FN3073 For Cox, Bonhoeffer plays a significant role in continuing to imagine those narratives. Cox readily admits that Bonhoeffer is the theologian who influenced him the most.FN3074 Not a traditional theist by his own or others' accounts, Cox's Christian theology roots itself in Christology-just as Bonhoeffer's was rooted in Christology. Once again he recounts his post-doctoral year in Berlin. He finds Bonhoeffer's prison letters when the German theologian was facing death "among the most buoyant and life affirming documents in all of Christian literature."FN3075 Even if Cox's students could not relate to Bonhoeffer's religionless Christianity, they did admire "his courage and his celebration of … the sheer joy of being alive in this world."FN3076 Concerning his students' lack of enthusiasm for a non-religious interpretation of Christianity, Cox contends:

Bonhoeffer's cultural prediction may have been mistaken, or perhaps premature. But his portrait of how God is present in the seemingly "godless" secular world is still a powerful one. So I would not concede that Bonhoeffer is no longer relevant. True, we may never arrive in a fully non- or post-religious era. But if the kind of superficial religiousness that is engulfing us today continues to spread, then both serious Christians and serious Jews may find themselves insisting in a new way on the absence of the real God from such a world.68

[26] In a reaffirmation of the spirit of his appropriation of Bonhoeffer from The Secular City, Cox paraphrases the German theologian:

Bonhoeffer believed that when God did not rush down like a Greek deus ex machina to save Jesus from the cross, he was signaling to human beings that we have indeed been "forsaken" in the sense of being left to work things out, or to fail, on our own. God will not compromise our freedom even to deliver us from the most tragic consequences of the worst of our hatred and greed. [Cox then goes on to quote Bonhoeffer's July 16, 1944 letter about God being "weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, he is with us and helps us."]FN3078

Conclusion--Cox's Saint, Seer, Prophet, and Bridge
[27] Even though the bulk of Bonhoeffer's work never seems to make it into Cox's theology, Letters and Papers from Prison and Ethics, it seems Cox has appropriated aspects of Bonhoeffer's Christologically-based theology of responsibility. While the Bonhoeffer of Life Together or Discipleship may have been a little too pious for Harvey Cox, there are continuities between Bonhoeffer's early and later work that could have been useful for Cox's later arguments. For instance, would Life Together, a work born out of Bonhoeffer's Finkenwalde seminary for the Confessing Church, have had something to say to Cox's spirituality of the secular in Turning East?

[28] In any event, Cox's extremely diverse academic career has taken the questions that Bonhoeffer gave to him as a young American scholar in Berlin and taken those questions through the interpretation of Bonhoeffer into worlds as diverse as secular cities, eastern religions, Christian base communities, and celebrations of Jewish holidays. In these realms Cox dialogues with Bonhoeffer as a seer of human responsibility in this world, as prophet who called for questioning religion and culture while listening to the voices of the suffering and as a bridge that still speaks not only to Christians but also to his students today. Bonhoeffer functions in each of these roles as a contemporary saint for Cox. In that respect Cox joins many others who participate in remembering this modern Protestant saint.

[29] In forty years of appropriating Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Harvey Cox has done so consistently---Cox appropriates a Bonhoeffer who calls us to human responsibility through Jesus' witness to God and the kingdom that God brings through Jesus. This call to responsibility directly relates to Bonhoeffer the Seer (to use Haynes' categories) of radical theology, but it also resonates with Bonhoeffer the Bridge and Bonhoeffer the Prophet. While Cox's appropriation of religionless Christianity found problems down the road, Cox's biblically based call to human responsibility finds sure footing in Bonhoeffer's work. Those interpreters who limit an appropriation of Bonhoeffer that calls for such human responsibility with the catchphrases of "radical Christianity" and "death of God theology" have not done justice to a far more substantial appropriation of Bonhoeffer that has had a continuing interpretive life for over forty years.

End Notes

[1] Stephen R. Haynes, The Bonhoeffer Phenomenon: Portraits of a Protestant Saint (Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 2004).

[2] Harvey Cox, The Secular City: Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective , rev. ed. (New York, MacMillan, 1966).

[3] Harvey Cox, When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today (Boston, MA, Houghton Mifflin, 2004).

[4] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison: The Enlarged Edition, Eberhard Bethge, ed. (New York, MacMillan, 1971).

[5] Haynes, Bonhoeffer Phenomenon, 24.

[6] Ibid 29.

[7] Ibid chapters 6-8.

[8] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 6, Clifford J Green, ed. (Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 2005).

[9] For example, on having faith in this world, see Bonhoeffer's letter of July 21, 1944, Bonheoffer, Letters and Papers, 369-370, or his discussion of Christ, Reality and God, Ethics, 47-75.

[10] Cox, Secular City, 3.

[11] Ibid 52.

[12] For example, see the April 30, 1944 letter and the later Outline for a Book, Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers, 278-282, and 380-383.

[13] Ibid 71-72.

[14] Ibid 211.

[15] Ibid 226.

[16] Harvey Cox, The Secular City: Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective, 25th anniversary ed. (New York, Collier, [1965] 1990), xix.

[17] Harvey G. Cox, On Not Leaving It to the Snake (MacMillan, 1967).

[18] Ibid xiv. Haynes details the development of the form and function of Bonhoeffer becoming a Protestant saint in terms of Christian hagiography; see, Bonhoeffer Phenomenon, 127-147.

[19] Ibid 92.

[20] Harvey Cox, God's Revolution and Man's Responsibility (Valley Forge, PA, 1965).

[21] Ibid 10, 24, 80-81, 90-91, 98-99.

[22] Ibid 104.

[23] Harvey Cox, The Feast of Fools: A Theological Essay on Festivity and Fantasy (New York, Harper & Row, 1969).

[24] Ibid vii.

[25] Ibid 168, 181.

[26] Harvey Cox, The Seduction of the Spirit: The Use and Misuse of People's Religion (New York, Touchstone, 1973).

[27] Theologians of various commitments have also gone down this non-traditional road of theological reflection. To choose but one of a myriad of possible examples, see Rita Brock and Rebecca Parker, Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering and the Search for What Saves Us (Boston, Beacon, 2002) for a nontraditional approach to doctrines of the atonement.

[28] Ibid 125.

[29] Ibid 128.

[30] Ibid 142.

[31] Ibid 128.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid 127.

[34] Harvey Cox, "The Secular City-Ten Years Later", The Christian Century, May 28, 1975, 544-547 (accessed at, on July 21, 2005).

[35] Ibid.

[36] Harvey Cox, Turning East: The Promise and Peril of the New Orientalism (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1978).

[37] Ibid 33.

[38] Ibid 127.

[39] Ibid 161-175.

[40] Ibid 161.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Harvey Cox, Just As I Am (Nashville, TN Abingdon, 1983).

[43] Ibid 61.

[44] Ibid 134-136.

[45] Bonheoffer, Letters and Papers, 281. Also see, Bonhoeffer's baptismal sermon for Dietrich W. R. Bethge, 300, which limits being Christian in the coming world society to prayer and righteous action.

[46] Harvey Cox, Religion in the Secular City: Toward a Post-Modern Theology (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1984).

[47] Ibid 204-205.

[48] Ibid 147.

[49] Ibid 173, 175. Also see, Bonhoeffer, Letter and Papers, 17, on seeing history from below-from the view of the suffering-in his essay "After Ten Years."

[50] Haynes, Bonhoeffer Phenomenon, 37-63.

[51] Harvey Cox, Many Mansions: A Christian's Encounter with Other Faiths (Boston, MA, Beacon, 1988).

[52] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 4, Geffrey Kelly & John D. Godsey, eds. (Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 2001).

[53] Haynes, Bonhoeffer Phenomenon, 99.

[54] Cox, Many Mansions, 13.

[55] Ibid 94.

[56] Ibid 210.

[57] Harvey Cox, The Silencing of Leonardo Boff: The Vatican and the Future of World Christianity (Oak Park, IL, Meyer-Stone, 1988).

[58] Ibid 164.

[59] However, the African American and Pentecostal expressions of Christian faith, while having points of contact, still should be distinguished.

[60] Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Relgion in the Twenty-First Century (Addison Wesley, 1995).

[61] Harvey Cox, Common Prayers: Faith, Family, and a Christian's Journey Through the Jewish Year (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2001).

[62] Ibid 35.

[63] Ibid 154.

[64] Cox's approach to morality relates imagination and narrative in a way that appropriates Bonhoeffer's legacy in markedly different voice than another influential American theologian whose voice is often heard on questions of narrative and the confessionally Christian moral life; see Stanley Hauerwas, Performing the Faith: Bonhoeffer and the Practice of Nonviolence (Grand Rapids, MI, Brazos, 2004), especially chapters 1 & 2.

[65] Cox, When Jesus Came to Harvard, 300.

[66] Ibid 261.

[67] Ibid 263.

[68] Ibid 265.

[69] Ibid 262. See, Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers, 360.


© November 2005
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 5, Issue 11