Students Take Heart via Bonhoeffer's Theology that the Word Goes before Them

Theology students filled a classroom of the Institute of Lutheran Theology for a week with Dietrich Bonhoeffer this January. Hanged as a condemned prisoner by Nazi German soldiers weeks before WWII ended, Bonhoeffer’s words stood in for himself. His books and biography presented his forthright personality and teaching style, with a driving focus on preaching.

Dr. Jonathan Sorum, ILT’s Academic Dean, taught the seventeen students who had come from across the United States and Canada for the J-term course ‘Bonhoeffer on Preaching.’ The motivation to attend ranged from curiosity to fulfillment of graduate credits, and attendees were both laity and clergy. Sorum’s passion to deliver over 40 years of study and graduate degree papers written on Bonhoeffer was on display to all. The course focused on the office of preaching. Students were to understand how the truth and reality of the sermon is connected to the church as the community of those who follow Jesus.

Sitting in class on the ILT campus, Brookings, SD was out of the ordinary for these theologians. Students were able to investigate the real campus after years of study in their interactive video classroom and expressed pleasure to know the bricks and mortar workplace of the staff and some of their teachers. Most of these students will be writing sermons and papers in order to earn their grade.

Intense and earnest, the students took heart that the Word goes before them, to ensure the proper delivery of The Word. The disciple, under the call, is blessed and promised to “bear up” under difficulty and trial. That Word, being Jesus, created the world, and properly preached, creates the congregation. And keeps all in existence, thanks be to God!

L. To R. Front row: Dale Swenson, Alan Aley, Dana Crooks, Pam Wells, Teresa Keen Peters , Terese Whitten, Second row: Wendy Poch , Ann Sorum, Dr. Jonathan Sorum, Dallas Groton, Caleb Bahr, Wendel Ritz , Back row: Adam Poe, Chuck Huckabee, Timothy J. Swenson

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