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What does it mean to call Dietrich Bonhoeffer an apocalyptic ethicist or theologian? Philip Ziegler, in his new important study on apocalytpic theology, Militant Grace: The Apocalyptic Turn and the Future of Christian Theology, contends against the grain that Bonhoeffer (=DB) was an apocalyptic ethicist.
I want to argue that in draft upon draft of his Ethics manuscript, Bonhoeffer is definitely working out a theological ethic whose intent is to conform to the contours of Paul’s apocalyptic gospel.
Rise - Pauline - Theology - Barthianism - Barthianism
He is undeterred because of the rise of apocalyptic Pauline theology that fits more with Barthianism (and some would say is Barthianism) and therefore with DB.
Recent reconsideration of Pauline apocalyptic by de Boer, Martyn, before them also J. Christiaan Beker, and others has discerned with renewed clarity, as we have seen, that in Paul’s gospel “revelation” (apocalypsis) denotes God’s redemptive invasion of the fallen order of things such that reality itself is decisively remade in the event. God’s advent in Christ utterly disrupts and displaces previous patterns of thought and action and gives rise to new ones that better comport with the reality of a world actively reconciled to God.
Slippery - Land - Paul - Jewish - Genre
There is some slippery land to navigate here. For many, apocalyptic for Paul must fit into Jewish apocalyptic which is both a genre and a kind of theology, while for this new group it’s only marginally about Jewish apocalyptic, not about a genre, and more about how best to describe the revelation of God in Christ and its radical impacts on everything it touches (which is everything).
Apocalyptic, on this view, is more than a literary genre or a form of extreme ancient rhetoric; it is a mode of theological discourse fit to give voice to the radical ontological and epistemological consequences of the gospel, consequences intensely relevant to doing Christian ethics. The basic moral question...
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