God is Not Subject but Person: Bonhoeffer’s Alternative to Barth

Michael P. DeJonge

in Bonhoeffer's Theological Formation

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199639786
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738708 | DOI:
God is Not Subject but Person: Bonhoeffer’s Alternative to Barth

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This chapter presents Bonhoeffer’s critique of and alternative to Barth’s theology in terms of the concepts of God and revelation. Barth’s theology treats God as a supra‐historical subject who reveals in momentary acts. Bonhoeffer argues, primarily in Act and Being, that Barth’s subjective concept of God and act‐concept of revelation cannot ground theologically an orientation to both transcendence and historical existence. These criticisms point to Bonhoeffer’s alternative, which treats God as person, whose act and being are in history. The advantage of Bonhoeffer’s person‐theology over Barth’s act‐theology is demonstrated, thinks Bonhoeffer, in the former’s ability to solve the problem of act and being, its ability to ground theologically both transcendence and historical existence.

Keywords: Barth; act; being; subject; person; transcendence; historical existence; Act and Being

Chapter.  9951 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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