The Contributions To Christology Of Jürgen Moltmann And Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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This essay aims to critically assess the contributions to Christology of Jürgen Moltmann and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Both of these theologians have left a great legacy after their contributions to theology during their lifetime in the 20th century… (double check its 20th)

Bonhoeffer posed questions about the identity/ontology of Jesus, Jurgen ..


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor, a martyr and a theologian who was born in Breslau, Germany the 4th of February 1906.(1) He was born into a large family of eight siblings, both of his parents had a great influence, they were well educated people of the upper middle class that had conformed to the Aryan ideal. (2) However, Dietrich Bonhoeffer chose to not conform to his parent’s beliefs and became the outsider of his own family as he became a very outspoken anti-Nazi dissident. (3) He graduated with a doctorate in theology at the age of 21 from the university of Tübingen and Berlin. (4) Bonhoeffer experienced the horrific World War I (1914 to 1918), the Weimar Republic (1919 to 1933) and further he lived to see the rise of the Nazi-Germany movement Third Reich that arose before World War II. (5) At the age of only 22, Bonhoeffer began his ministries as a Lutheran.(6) He was passionate about social justice, therefore his love for people lead him to fight for others.(7) A few years later at the age of 24, Bonhoeffer was requested to come and lecture in systematic theology at the University of Berlin. It was at this time Nazism had begun to awaken interest with students of theology. (8) His teachings at this university ended up getting him banished in 1936 from teaching at the university, he was prohibited from speaking in public anywhere and a few years later in 1943 he was arrested due to his refusal of aligning with the Nazi model (9) and for partaking in the Abwehr, a German military intelligence organization. (10) Bonhoeffer was executed on the in April 1945 for his attempt to kill Hitler.(11)

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It is often revealed in the method of the theologian what context their theology is being formed. (make sense) Bonhoeffer was a neo-reformed theologian who expanded and developed his Christology throughout his life, this makes it quite challenging to pinpoint his specific method. (21) Bonhoeffers writings is known to be rich with poetry and intense thought. He strongly believed that Christology is and should be the centre of theology and Christian faith. He pursued new revelation of Christ throughout his life, as Jesus incarnate was crucial for his belief, he emphasised the importance of the presence of Jesus in the everyday life of the believer. (22) Karl Barth was one of the most significant influences on Bonhoeffers theology, as Barth’s pursuit to discover God in everyday life resonated with Bonhoeffer. (23) As well as Luther and his teachings such as “Theology of the Cross,” influenced Bonhoeffers Christology. (24) He affirmed that the Caledonian definition of humanity and divinity of Christ, although he stated that this was a negative Christology that ultimately failed at fully affirming Christ as it limits His ontology. (25) Furthermore, Bonhoeffer emphasised the importance of truly knowing Christ for oneself, he reflected on scriptures and biblical ideas in order to form his Christology. (26) He developed a high Christology of a Christ that is “pro me”, similar to Therapeutic Christology (27) He spoke about the human Christ as a role model for humanity through a historical approach throughout the development of his Christology. Bonhoeffer highlights a descending Christology of a descending Christ that is with people in the midst their experience of pain and suffering. (28) as Bonhoeffer focuses on the ontology of Christ, it is evident that he came from Cataphatic perspective and further this effected his view and use of sociology and theology. (29) (reword)

Key insights

Bonhoeffer approach to Christology lies within the emphasis he put in the question of Christ’s ontology, he boldly questioned who Jesus was and it was for him essential to answer the question of who Jesus truly was for people living ‘today.’ (41) The work he produced whilst being in prison attempted to clarify to what extent Jesus was present with the everyone’s suffering through war and oppression and it lead him to the question; “Who is Christ for us today?” (42) He came to the conclusion that Christ being the logos is fully present through time and place as He fully human as well as fully God. (43) Further Bonhoeffer stated that the true answer to his question could solely be discovered in church “where men ask about God because they know who he is”, he strongly believed that if one knew of who God is then one would be able to discover ones calling to participate in fighting for His kingdom. (45) It is because Christ being fully human that He can have this intimate relationship with humanity, (46) and this is what Bonhoeffer emphasises by the ‘pro me’ perspective meaning that Christ is the “being for you and the being for you.” (47) Further, he argues first and foremost for a faith with Christ at the centre, the historical Christ cannot be separated from the present Christ. (48) Earlier on in Bonhoeffer’s ministry, he was more focused on the ecclesiological aspect (49), he stated that the church is the hidden Christ among us and later on Bonhoeffer preceded to state that it was Christ in “our” existence that was the meaning of creation, not only just within the four walls of a church building. (50)

Bonhoeffer was seriously concerned with divine suffering, and he wrestled with how God chose to deal with the evil that arose from human nature. Bonhoeffer argued that the answer to could only be discovered in relation to the cross and Jesus’s continuing presence in the midst of suffering. (52) He points to a suffering God that offers help to humanity, through God allowing himself to be weak, He allows for humanity to receive strength. Ultimately, the cross and the suffering Christ experiences upon the cross is what places Him at the centre.(54) Bonhoeffers understanding of salvation thought Jesus’s incarnation, was that it is something that was gifted to humanity and this gift required effort, if no effort was made then this is simply ‘poor grace.’ (55)

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The Contributions To Christology Of Jürgen Moltmann And Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
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