The Political Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Ethical Problems of Tyrannicide

“…according to ethical principles or just war arguments, Bonhoeffer acts against what he considered …… state worship.”


“Given the conclusions of the two chapters at the beginning of this thesis concerning the role of Bonhoeffer’s Christology in informing his view of ethical life, I will now move on to the implications of these views for Bonhoeffer’s understanding of church and government. The third and fourth chapters on church-government relations will address two periods of Bonhoeffer’s thought: chapter three (entitled Church and Government I) will examine Bonhoeffer’s earliest articulation of what may be considered a theory of politics. The primary text for this chapter, Bonhoeffer’s 1933 sermon entitled “The Church and the Jewish Question,” is developed in response to Nazi incursions into the practices of the German Evangelical churches. In it, we find a tripartite formulation of responses which the church can exercise toward the actions of a state. These responses come in three phases: questioning of the state, assisting the victims of the state, and direct resistance against the state. Church and Government: I addresses Bonhoeffer’s opposition to Nazi infiltrations into the churches and explores the first two phases of the tripartite church-government relation mentioned above. The final chapter (Church and Government: II) will focus on the third phase of resistance toward government and whether or not Bonhoeffer’s actions are consistent with the later political thought he articulates in Ethics, Letters and Papers from Prison, and his “Theological Position Paper on Church and State.” Chapter four will also focus on the question of sin and how Bonhoeffer either justifies of condemns his participation in the Abwehr resistance on the basis of his aforementioned political theology.”

Bonhoeffer and the “Jewish Question”


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