Theology as witness to the living Christ : mapping the social implications of justification by faith with Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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For Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christian doctrine must bear witness to the living Christ who calls people to a specific form of life. The implication here is that doctrine is only genuinely Christian when it is Christologically oriented and its concrete bearing on human existence is taken seriously. Although many have noted the central import of the doctrine of justification for Bonhoeffer’s theology, there are few extended treatments of the topic and none that specifically attend to how justification fundamentally informs his anthropology and ethics. As such, this study aims to fill that gap by exploring the social implications of justification in Bonhoeffer’s thought. The thesis unfolds in two overlapping parts, which signal both development and continuity in Bonhoeffer’s thought. Chapters one through three pertain primarily to theological anthropology and constitute the first part. Here, Bonhoeffer’s early theology is engaged in order to suggest that justification fundamentally shapes his theological anthropology and, as such, informs his resistance to the racializing ideology of National Socialism. Chapters four through six comprise the second part, marking a shift toward ethics. They survey recent developments in Pauline theology in order to provide a lens through which to read Discipleship as an exposition of justification’s formative significance for the Christian life, before turning to Ethics and arguing that justification establishes Christians in the world as participants in Christ’s reconciling work. The conclusion of chapter six serves as a case study, which considers how re-orienting the church to the social implications of justification by faith might play an important role in its confrontation of white supremacy. By giving voice to the social implications of justification in Bonhoeffer’s theology, this thesis offers fresh and vital insights regarding how the doctrine bears witness to the living Christ who calls to discipleship.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Embargo Date: 2024-08-01
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 1st August 2024
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