Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Theological Reflection

Given the Holy Father’s recent trip to Germany, I was particularly struck by an ecumenical visit that he made to a Lutheran Evangelical community on September 23, 2011. As with any papal trip, each place is carefully chosen for a specific purpose. For this meeting, a dialogue regarding unity and shared values unfolded at the very Augustinian convent where Martin Luther was ordained a Catholic priest a half millennium ago. Some years ago, during a course on Christology, I was asked to write on a non-Catholic theologian. For personal reasons, I chose Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran theologian who had suffered and died at the hands of the Nazi regime. My mission: by using the two basic types of Christology as described by Karl Rahner, to discern whether Bonhoeffer was either “low Christology ascending” or “high Christology descending.” In the end, my speculation remains just that.

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