The Challenge of Barth’s Theology

Michael P. DeJonge

in Bonhoeffer's Theological Formation

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199639786
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738708 | DOI:
The Challenge of Barth’s Theology

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As the previous chapter shows, Bonhoeffer describes Barth’s theology in philosophical‐theological terms, as an ‘act‐theology’. But understanding Bonhoeffer’s criticism of and alternative to Barth requires reckoning with the confessional‐theological aspect of Barth’s theology as well—Barth’s is a Reformed act‐theology. The task of this chapter is to recall, through an examination of the Göttingen Dogmatics, the Reformed character of Barth’s act‐theology in order to make clear what is at stake in Bonhoeffer’s correction of it. Barth argues that Lutheran thinking is complicit in blunting God’s transcendence; only Reformed thinking respects God’s transcendence. This sets the stage for the coming chapters, which present Bonhoeffer’s person‐theology as a Lutheran account of God’s transcendence in history.

Keywords: Barth; Göttingen Dogmatics; Reformed; Lutheran; Feuerbach

Chapter.  7755 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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