Knutson Lecture: “Bonhoeffer, the Church, and the Climate Question”

16th Annual David and Marilyn Knutson Lecture

“Bonhoeffer, the Church, and the Climate Question”

Rev. Dr. James B. Martin-Schramm '81

Tuesday, November 2, 2021
7:00pm (Pacific time)
Zoom Webinar


Contact person: Dr. Agnes Choi, Chair of the Religion Department

Free and Open to the Public

The 16th annual David and Marilyn Knutson Lecture begins with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s provocative 1933 essay on “The Church and the Jewish Question” and draws parallels to climate change. Where virulent anti-Semitism was the most important issue facing the church in Bonhoeffer’s day, Martin-Schramm argues Bonhoeffer would have grave concerns about the impacts of climate change on present and future generations. Martin-Schramm explains how Martin Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms shaped Bonhoeffer’s critique of the church and state in his day regarding “the Jewish Question” and ponders how Bonhoeffer might challenge the feeble responses of both the state and the church to the climate crisis. The lecture explores tensions between patriotism and resistance and considers how God is at work in the world today among all who are striving for climate justice.


Rev. Dr. James B. Martin-Schramm ’81,
Professor Emeritus of Religion Luther College, Decorah, Iowa

I joined the Religion faculty at Luther College in 1993. I am an ordained member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and have a doctorate in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Most of my scholarship has focused on issues related to ethics and public policy, and a lot of my recent work has been in energy and climate policy. I spent most of my youth growing up in Germany and South Africa because my father worked for John Deere. I think those years gave me a global perspective that has influenced my career in various ways. I have been involved in various campus sustainability initiatives at Luther and am active in various organization in Iowa working on climate change and energy issues.

Previous Knutson Lecture Scholars

2012 – Robert N. Bellah
2011 – Marcus J. Borg
2010 – Mark Brocker
2009 – John Dominic Crossan
2008 – Susan Ross
2007 – John Pahl
2006 – Martin E. Marty

Rev. Dr. James B. Martin-Schramm