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Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s approach to systematic theology

Fairclough, John. F. (1968) Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s approach to systematic theology. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The study begins by outlining the influence of Liberal Protestantism which Bonhoeffer met as a student at Berlin University. We show that although Bonhoeffer's heritage from the Liberal School was by no means negligible, it was to Karl Barth and his Dialectical Theology that the young Bonhoeffer was more and more attracted. In Act and Being and Sanctorum Communio we see Bonhoeffer's debt to Barthian insights but we also see him moving to a position which emphasizes the given-ness of God's revelation as Christ takes form in the here and now - in the community of the Church. We see that the phenomenon of the Church (as Christ existing as community) holds an undeniable fascination for the young theologian. During the years 1927-33 we claim that his understanding of both Christology and Revelation is dominated by this Ecclesiological interest. Throughout the study we wish to demonstrate that Bonhoeffer is from start to finish a theologian whose thought is centred in the revelation of Christ. Where we locate development in his theology or when we attempt to understand his thought on such subjects as discipleship or secularization we must observe that all are pursued from a Christocentric position. Indeed Christ gives unity to his thought. Bonhoeffer's theology arises from personal involvement. Some appreciation of the political and social scene in Germany during the 1930s is essential for a proper understanding of the form and content of Bonhoeffer's theology after 1933. We shall see that during the years 1933 onwards his life and thought merge and we shall be forced to devote more time to biographical details and socio-political questions. Out of this context came such works as The Cost of Biscipleship and Life Together. In the last years of his life (1940-45), Bonhoeffer faced the problem of the meaning of Christ in a technological age. The final section of the study examines Bonhoeffer's understanding of secularization. We note that his thinking springs from a Christocentric position. The material examined is compiled in Ethics and Letters and Papers from Prison.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1968
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:20

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