Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Vol. 5): Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, edited by Geifrey B. Kelly. Translated by Daniel W. Bloesch and James H. Burtness. Fortress, 232 pp., $30.00. In August 1996 the German authorities announced that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was no longer regarded in law as a traitor. This somewhat bizarre declaration says more …
A brief biographical summary covering Bonhoeffer’s family, education, pastoral service, teaching appointments, ecumenical service, the evangelical opposition to Hitler, activities in the German resistance to Hitler, and his imprisonment and eventual execution. There follows a sketch of how different authors have viewed Bonhoeffer, including John A. T. Robinson, Paul M. VanBuren, William Hamilton, Gerhard Ebeling, Eberhard Bethge, Jurgen Moltmann, Jurgen Weissbach, John Godsey, William Kuhns and William B. Gould.
This study seeks to elaborate a Bonhoefferian corrective of Marx’s critique of religion. Whereas Marx completely abandoned the concept of God by his critique of religion, Bonhoeffer tried to reinterpret the concept of God so that it would be understandable to the autonomous modern person living in a "world come of age".
An evaluation of the deeper dimensions of Marx’s critique of religion as these might be applied in the fulfillment of Marxist programme, and a theological evaluation of Marx’s critique of religion and how much the church can appropriate from this critique.
A summary and an examination of the implications of Bonhoeffer’s theology for the church’s life today. How Bonhoefferian theology functions as a challenge to Marxist philosophy. Bonhoeffer reminds us that it is Christ, and Christ alone, who validates the world of responsible secular people. The meaning of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is that God and the world can no longer be separated.
By examining Marx’s critique of religion optimistically and without prejudice we find that Marxists and Christians can agree, in spite of several disagreements, that both are ultimately concerned for true humanity, especially for the rights of the poor and needy, the hungry and hopeless; both could agree that they strive to be “true to the earth”.
The question of continuity and discontinuity of Marx’s thought has been a major issue of debate in the study of Marxism and must be resolved or any study of Marxism will not be fruitful. Paulose holds the view that, despite a few minor variations, the ‘young’ and the ‘old’ Marx are essentially one and the same, and that there is a continuity of thought in Marx’s writings.
In perhaps his most difficult work entitled The Communion of Saints Bonhoeffer attempts to define sociology and the church by relating sociology and theology to each other. This involves a definition of the Christian concept of persons related to other persons and to God, and involves the concept of sin as breaking the relationship of man to man and man to God. He then turns to a significant study of the nature of the church as not just another organization but the Body of Christ.
Marx’s criticism of religion can only be understood against the background of Hegelian philosophy and also of the anthropology of Feuerbach, which it extends and supersedes.
Bonhoeffer explores the act-being problem. He concludes that revelation as act and revelation as being are inadequate alone and must somehow be synthesized. His proposed solution lies in seeing the church as a unity of act and being. Thus revelation is not the past remembered as in scripture, but exists presently and continually in the church and “the church is the Christ of the present. . . Christ existing as community.”