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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Dietrich Bonhoeffer studied at Union Theological Seminary in 1930/1. He had decided to go to Union because it specialized in social ministry, and by this time he had misgivings about his theory-laden Habilitation thesis. He was also interested in Union because it was in New York, a site of cultural adventure. While he thought he was open to being challenged and taught by Union faculty, he quickly concluded that Union did not teach ‘real theology’. Bonhoeffer’s mostly negative experience at Union was redeemed by his friendships with Union classmates, his participation in church and community courses, his study of American pragmatism, his introduction to black Social Gospel preaching and worship at Abyssinian Church, and his shift toward Christian pacifism, the latter notwithstanding his complaint that Union reduced Christianity to Social Gospel pacifism.

Keywords: Social Gospel, black Social Gospel, Union Theological Seminary, pragmatism, pacifism, Abyssinian Church

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