Essay, 14 pages (3500 words)

Reputations and influences in his late years theology religion


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Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran curate, theologian, founding member of the Confessing Church, a Protestant church that opposed Nazi-involved churches, and a member of Abwehr, the intelligence organisation against Nazi Germany. Right before the terminal of World War II he was executed for take parting in the blackwash of Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party.

These two figures lived in the similar clip period, the clip of war and agony. They both worked for justness, nevertheless, their actions toward war were non every bit the same. In this paper I would wish to portion comparings and contrasts between two work forces of God.

Part I: Karl Barth

The Early Old ages

Karl Barth was born in the Basel, Switzerland, on May 10, 1886, the first Born of five kids. He settled early on a calling in divinity because ofA his male parent, Johann Friedrich ‘ Fritz ‘ Barth, who was a professor of divinity. Not merely divinity, but besides his male parent ‘ s involvement in music inherited to Barth. Particularly his household was a large fan of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Barth became a Mozart fiend. He ever began each twenty-four hours by listening to one of Mozart ‘ s recordings. Barth besides wrote several articles on Mozart.[ 1 ]

Karl Barth was educated in assorted universities at Switzerland and Germany. He foremost studied under his male parent ‘ s module at Berne, and so he moved to Berlin and Tubingen. His ultimate end at the clip was to analyze at the University of Marburg, where was well-known for a centre of theological liberalism or Protestant Liberalism. From 1911 to 1921 Barth worked as a curate in Safenwil. In 1913 he got married with Nelly Hoffmann and they had four boies and one girl. Subsequently he found himself learning divinity and New Testament in Gottingen, Munster, and Bonn.

Der Romerbrief

Barth was originally learned about Protestant Liberalism under Wilhelm Herrmann and many other instructors, but he decided to travel against his instructors ‘ instruction after he saw many of his instructors signed a declaration in support of German war policy during the clip of the World War I. Barth was profoundly shocked by the calamity that consumed the full Europe but he was more defeated by the prostration of the value system of churches. He started oppugning the broad divinity, which was rooted in the Enlightenment that he learned from many of his instructors. “ Karl Barth ‘ s interruption with liberalism ” is one of the most familiar phrases in all of modern Christian idea.[ 2 ]His interruption with liberalism was non academic, but pastoral and political. Through survey of Apostle Paul ‘ s Romans, he struggled to do clear of the relation between justification and societal righteousness. During this period Barth visited Bad Boll, where he met Christoph Blumhardt and from him Barth gained an resistless religion about the genuineness of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which became the footing of his divinity subsequently. His position of Godhead disclosure was wholly changed after he realized that God himself comes into human life through Jesus Christ and really meets and speaks to His people. This caused him to alter his manner of interpretation and set forthing the Word of God. Because of this great light there were a series of passionate Hagiographas, discourses, and expoundings came out, in which Barth called for a return to the true message of the Bible and to the Reformation divinity.[ 3 ]

In 1918 the first edition of Der Romerbrief ( The Epistle to the Book of Romans ) published and later revised edition came out in 1921. The 2nd edition made Barth celebrated. One Roman Catholic observer one time mentioned that The Epistle to the Romans “ fell like a bomb on the resort area of the theologists ” .[ 4 ]In his commentary Barth proclaims that God is wholly different being than anything in human cognition and experience. God is God. He focused on the perfect sovereignty of God and the limitless deepness of His grace. Barth tried to confirm the Old Testament religion in God as autonomous Lord and Creator, and to pull a clear line between God and His animal. Barth fundamentally explained the First Commandment out: ‘ You will hold no other Gods before me ‘ .

I know that I have laid myself unfastened to the charge of enforcing a significance upon the text instead than pull outing its significance from it, and that my method implies this. My answer is that, if I have a system, it is limited to a acknowledgment of what Kierkegaard has called the ‘ infinite qualitative differentiation ‘ between clip and infinity, and to my sing this as possessing negative every bit good as positive significance: ‘ God is in Eden and thou art on Earth. ‘ The relation between such a God and such a adult male, and the relation between a adult male and such a God, is for me the subject of the Bible and the kernel of doctrine.[ 5 ]

After the publication of his first book Barth became known as the theologist of “ crisis, ” “ neo-orthodoxy, ” and “ dialectical divinity ” in the Protestant field.[ 6 ]

Kirchliche Dogmatik

Kirchliche Dogmatik ( The Church Dogmatics ) was originally planned to include five chief subjects, each handling one of the major philosophies of the religion: the Word of God, God, Creation, Reconciliation, and Redemption. However, Barth ne’er finished his work, merely as he was expected because of its monolithic volumes and his old age:

The angels laugh at old Karl. They laugh at him because he tries to hold on the truth about God in a book of Dogmatics. They laugh at the fact that volume follows volume and each is thicker than the old 1. As they laugh, they say to one another, ‘ Look! Here he comes now with his small pushcart full of volumes of the Dogmatics! ‘ – and they laugh about the work forces who write so much about Karl Barth alternatively of composing about the things he is seeking to compose approximately. Truly, the angels laugh.[ 7 ]

Barth went against both progressives and conservativists by take a firm standing that the Bible is important in its ain right regardless of human apprehension. He believed that human cognition or experience could non supply an equal context for divinity, but the Word of God itself could. For illustration, in Church Dogmatics IV/4 Barth strongly rejected the pattern of infant baptism, which he believed that it was unscriptural. The Word of God must non be merely identified with the written words of Scripture. Barth insisted the God ‘ s Word to be an ultimate enigma, but he did non see it as obscure. The chief point is that Jesus Christ is the Word made flash. As the clip goes by Barth ‘ s divinity is going more and more like Christ-centric:

As God the Creator calls adult male to himself, he besides directs him to his fellow-man. The Godhead bid affirms in peculiar that in the brush of adult male and adult female, in the relationship between parents and kids and outwards from near to distant neighbours, adult male may confirm, award, and bask the other with himself and himself with the other. ( III/4, 116 )

Barth affirmed that the kernel of the Christian message was the unworthy love of the glorious God, who gave himself to human existences so that his people may have unconditioned freedom and grace.[ 8 ]

Bartenders Declaration

Because of the sequence of Adolf Hitler to power over Germany in 1933, Karl Barth intensely became involved in the church battle. His opposition to German National Socialism made him to vacate from his place as professor of divinity at the University of Bonn. Subsequently He became one of the laminitiss of the “ Confessing Church ” , which went against to put up a German Christian church supported by the Nazi authorities. However, the Confessing Church ne’er intended to run of opposition to Nazism. It was more focussed to travel against the dissident deformations of the German Churches and Christians. The Confessing Church decided non to stand itself as an opposing church but merely maintain their echt Christian religion against false inventions. The Barmen Declaration of 1934 stated that in order to forestall to the pollution of the church in Nazi Germany, the church needed to take clasp of true Christian philosophy. Barth called the German Churches back to the cardinal truths of Christianity and rejected the totalitarian claims of the province.[ 9 ]The Confessing Church affirmed the exclusive Lordship of Jesus Christ in resistance to the new devotion:

Jesus Christ, as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to swear and obey in life and in decease. We reject the false philosophy that the church could and should acknowledge as a beginning of its announcement, beyond and besides this one Word of God, yet other events, powers, historic figures, and truths as God ‘ s disclosure.[ 10 ]

In 1935 Barth was forced to go forth Germany because of his denial to back up Adolf Hitler and Nazi authorities. Barth went back to Switzerland and taught divinity in Basel until 1962 and he retired.[ 11 ]

Reputes and Influences in His Late Old ages

After the war Barth travelled Germany twice to learn. He delivered the talks that would go Dogmitics in Outline subsequently. It is one of the little chef-d’oeuvres of modern Christian idea.[ 12 ]As a theologian, Barth was concerned to set up the truth that God can be known merely in conformity with his nature and to reject the 19th century position that saw an individuality between the Spirit of God and spiritual uneasiness or between the Torahs of God and the natural constructions of human life and history.[ 13 ]Barth insisted a return to the prophetic instruction of the Bible, like in Jeremiah and the Apostle Paul ‘ s letters.

Even though he retired from instruction, he ne’er ceased to compose books and to travel around the universe to prophesy. He continued to concern himself profoundly in current theological treatment, partaking in statements sing baptism, hermeneutics, demythologising divinity, and others. Additionally, Barth on a regular basis visited to the prison in Basel, where he preached the Word of God to the captives. Den Gefangenen Befreiung ; Predigten aus den Jahren 1954-59 ( Deliverance to the Prisoners, 1959 ) , revealed the mixture of evangelical passion and societal concern that had characterized through his life. Karl Barth died in Basel at age of 82.

Part II: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“ We must non be surprised if one time once more times return for our Church when the blood of sufferer will be required. But even of we have the bravery and religion to slop it, this blood will non be as guiltless or every bit clear as that of the first sufferer. Much of our ain guilt will lie in our blood.

The guilt of the useless retainer who is thrown into the darkness. ”[ 14 ]

The Early Old ages

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his twin sister, Sabine, were born in Breslau on February 4, 1906. He had three older brothers, two older sisters and one younger sister. Dietrich and his siblings were raised in a privileged middle-class household. Dr. Karl Bonhoeffer, his male parent, was a university professor and head-shrinker. Paula von Hase Bonhoeffer, his female parent, was wholly devoted to her household. Both parents held high outlooks for every kid in the household. At place they exercised their parental authorization and subject in a mode characterized by ’empiricism, reason, and liberalism ‘ .[ 15 ]During his adolescence, Dietrich read books about doctrine and faith. At the same clip he developed his musical endowments. At age 10, he could play Mozart sonatas.

The peace of the Bonhoeffer household was shaken all of sudden. One of Dietrich ‘ s older fusss, Walter, died due to serious lesions he received in one of the conflicts of World War I while functioning in the German ground forces. Dietrich was profoundly affected by the decease of his brother and the household ‘ s heartache. The war had surely brought an terminal to a peaceable universe. He had to confront the crisis and struggles of a changed universe. Two old ages subsequently, at the age of 14, immature Dietrich decided to go a curate and theologian even though his full household was disappointed with his determination. Three old ages subsequently, Dietrich Bonhoeffer entered Tubingen University, where his male parent and older brothers had besides studied. Later in 1924 he returned to the University of Berlin, where he concentrated on theological surveies for twosome of old ages. In the autumn of 1930, Bonhoeffer entered Union Theological Seminary in New York. Soon he found himself defeated with the shoal ambiance of the school:

The theological ambiance of the Union Theological Seminary is speed uping the procedure of the secularisation of Christianity in Americaaˆ¦A seminary in which it can come about that a big figure of pupils laugh out loud in a public talk at the quoting of a transition from Luther ‘ s De Servo Arbitrio ( On the Bondage of the Will ) on wickedness and forgiveness because it seems to them to be amusing has obviously wholly bury what Christian divinity because it seems to them to be amusing has obviously wholly bury what Christian divinity its really nature bases for.[ 16 ]

The Ecumenical Movement

In 1933 Adolf Hitler was appointed as Chancellor in Germany. Two yearss subsequently, Bonhoeffer delivered a wireless broadcast on leading assailing Hitler with the rubric, “ The Leader and the Individual in the Younger Generation. ”[ 17 ]Soon, he was cut off the air. Bonhoeffer participated in many oecumenic conferences. His overpowering concern was that the churches might non acknowledge their duty to go conciliators of the universe.[ 18 ]In his letters to Bishop George Bell, Bonhoeffer explained his belief that the churches were engaged in a life-or-death battle in his native Germany:

The inquiry at interest in the German Church is no longer an internal issue but is the inquiry of the being of Christianity in Europe ; hence, a definite attitude of the oecumenic motion has nil to make with ‘ intervention ‘ , but it is merely a presentation to the whole universe that Church and Christianity as such are at interest.[ 19 ]

Bonhoeffer declared in his discourse, “ The hr is tardily. The universe is choked with arms, and dreadful is the misgiving which looks out of every human being ‘ s eyes. The huntsman’s horns of war may blow tomorrow. For what are we waiting? Do we desire to go involved in this guilt as ne’er before? ”[ 20 ]

In 1935, Bekennende Kirche ( the Confessing Church ) established five illegal seminaries in Germany to keep independency from the province authorities. Bonhoeffer was invited to direct one of these seminaries. He returned from England to direct the seminary for the Confessing Church in Finkenwalde, Germany. In September 1937 the seminary was forced to shut by order of the Gestapo ( Secret State Police ) .

Cheap Grace

During his life-time, Ditriech Bonhoeffer ‘ s wrote many books, discourses, and verse forms, including Life Together, Ethical motives, and Letters and Documents from Prison. His most celebrated work was The Cost of Discipleship. This book was a precise expounding and reading of Jesus ‘ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 9: 35-10: 42. Bonhoeffer ‘ s major concern was inexpensive grace. This was grace that became so distorted that it no longer resembled the dearly-won grace of the Gospels that was shown in the New Testament.

Bonhoeffer believed that inexpensive grace has brought pandemonium and devastation. It was the rational understanding to a philosophy without a existent transmutation in the evildoer ‘ s life. It was the justification of the evildoer without the plants that should attach to the new birth. Bonhoeffer made a statement of inexpensive grace:

It is the sermon of forgiveness without necessitating penitence, baptism without church subject, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, life and incarnate.[ 21 ]

My Beloved State

Bonhoeffer became defeated about the Confessing Church ‘ s deficiency of bravery to stand against Nazism. In the interim, Kristallnacht ( Crystal Night ) happened on November 9, 1938, when Nazi troops destroyed more than seven 1000 Jewish stores, burnt temples, murdered over 90 Jews, and sent more than twenty 1000 Jews to concentration cantonments. Bonhoeffer was outraged after he heard the intelligence. His letdown on the Confessing Church deepened the undermentioned twelvemonth. On Adolf Hitler ‘ s 50th birthday, Herr Werner, the Minister for Church Affairs, summoned every curate of the Reich to curse an curse of trueness to Hitler. The leading of the Confessing Church and any other church in Germany did n’t do any attempt to stand against Nazi authorities. However, most of the Confessing Church curates obeyed.[ 22 ]

Bonhoeffer had to make something for his ain interest and peace of head. In June 1939, Bonhoeffer returned to the United States for the 2nd clip. He realized about instantly that this was a error. Bonhoeffer ‘ s darling state was wholly captivated by the most oppressive authorities in all of human history up until now. He thought that enduring with his people was necessary if he wanted to be an effectual curate after the war. Therefore, Bonhoeffer decided to travel back to Germany:

I have made a error in coming to America. I must populate through this hard period of out national history with the Christian people of Germany. I will hold no right to take part in the Reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do non portion the tests of this clip with my people. Christians in Germany will confront the awful option of either willing the licking of their state in order that Christian civilisation may last, or willing the triumph of their state and thereby destructing our civilisation. I know which of these options I must take ; but I can non do that pick in security.[ 23 ]

The Resistance

When Bonhoeffer returned to Germany after his 2nd visit to America, he was given a opportunity to fall in in the opposition. Hans von Dohnanyi, Dietrich ‘ s brother-in-law, was a outstanding member of the Abwehr ( defence in German ) , the intelligence bureau of the armed forces against the Nazi Germany. Abwehr helped Bonhoeffer in his direct engagement in the opposition motion against Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, he fell in love with a adult female named Maria von Wedemeyer. Their 17-year age difference was no concern to them. In January 1943, Bonhoeffer proposed and was engaged to Maria von Wedemeyer. However, merely a few hebdomads subsequently on April 5, Ditetrich was arrested and imprisoned at Tegel. Their matrimony ne’er accomplished.[ 24 ]

The Death of a Martyr

For the concluding two old ages of his life, Bonhoeffer was a captive of the Third Reich. While he was in prison, Bonhoeffer wrote tonss of letters to his household and friends. Particularly, the letters sent to Eberhard Bethge are called ‘ the most inspiring of the Bonhoeffer theological bequest ‘ .[ 25 ]Bonhoeffer ‘ s ain rational life in prison was stimulated by books that he requested. During the daytime hours, he read tonss of books. Not merely that, he besides had more chances to read the Bible and write verse forms, a novel and a drama. These activities truly helped him in profound self-searching, deep contemplation, and productive theologizing.

Bonhoeffer ‘ s concluding recorded words to his prison friend, Payne Best, were a message to his sure English friend, Bishop Bell of Chichester: “ Tell him that for me this is the terminal, but besides the beginning. With him I believe in the rule of our cosmopolitan Christian brotherhood which rises above all national involvements, and out triumph is certain – Tell him, excessively, that I have ne’er forgotten his words at out last meeting. ”[ 26 ]

Bonhoeffer ‘ s life and decease belong to the annals of Christian martyrdom. His life and decease have given us great hope for the hereafter. He has set a theoretical account for a new type of true leading inspired by the Gospel, day-to-day ready for martyrdom and decease and imbued by a new spirit of Christian humanitarianism and a originative sense of civic responsibility. The triumph which he has won was a triumph for us all, a conquering ne’er to be undone, of love, visible radiation, and autonomy.


Many theologists believed that Karl Barth was the theologist of theologists of the 20th century whether some of them agreed or disagreed of his divinity.[ 27 ]In full of his life Barth tried to alter the Protestant idea and proclaimed “ entirely otherness of God ” over the human-centred broad divinity in 19th century Europe. He besides tried to retrieve the significance of the philosophy of the Trinity.

Shortly after Dietrich Bonhoeffer ‘ s executing on April 9, 1945, Reinhold Niebuhr, one of his wise mans who encouraged Bonhoeffer to see exhaustively about the engagement of the church in the agony times, wrote a tribute article. Niebuhr mentioned in his composing about Bonhoeffer:

Bonhoeffer, less known than Martin Niemoller, will go better known. Not merely his sufferer ‘ decease, but besides his actions and principles contain within them the hope of a revitalized Protestant religion in Germany. It will be a religion, sacredly more profound than that of many of its critics ; but it will hold learned to get the better of the one fatal mistake of German Protestantism, the complete duality between religion and political life.[ 28 ]

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