Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Not applicable

Advisor Role

Not applicable


The title of this thesis is “The Significance of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Today.” I intend to discuss and show, with the data obtained through research, that the life and thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer addresses individuals and/or Christian communities in today’s world in their concern for specific issues regarding Christian and contemporary living. From the data I gathered, I found that Bonhoeffer spoke to three categories of individuals and/or Christian communities; that is, he spoke to theologians and lay individuals within the Christian tradition, to the institutional manifestations of the Christian Church, and to intellectuals outside of the Christian tract. I found that Bonfoeffer’s life and thought bore a significant witness to the individuals and/or Christian communities in the categories above, in their concern for critical theology, the identity and role of the contemporary Christian Church, contemporary hermeneutics, religious and political ecumenism, and wholistic living. These concerns are defined more extensively in the Introduction. I intend to show in this thesis that Dietrich Bonhoeffer speaks pertinently to the contemporary individuals and/or Christian communities regarding these areas of concern and confronts his audience with a theological orientation that is critically seeking to actualize the Christian message of liberation and reconciliation on the basis of justice.

The thesis is divded into six chapters and an introduction. In the Introduction I establish the conditions necessary for theology to retain a viable and credible role in today’s world. A very integral part of these conditions is that theology (including Christian communities and believers) must confront and begin to answer the concerns that believers, Christian communities and individuals outside the Christian traditions, consider important. These concerns are those defined above as, critical theology, the identity and role of the contemporary Christian Church, contemporary hermeneutics, religious and political ecumenism and wholistic living. I show that Bonhoeffer was aware of these problems and was beginning to answer them himself. In this manner I establish the theological starting point for this thesis. In Chapters One to Five, I discuss the respective area of concern. First I explain how meeting and resolving this concern is important for retaining an authentic and viable Christian witness. Then I show who has received Bonhoeffer in their attempt to address this concern, and in what way Bonhoeffer has influenced the respective individuals and/or communities. Chapter Six is the conclusion. I have also included a Preface and a Postscript. In the Preface I intend to give the reader an insight of how Bonhoeffer has been important to me in my personal theological development. The Postscript was added because at the time of writing the second draft of this thesis a number of events took place that in some way tied into some of the developments in this thesis.

Convocation Year


Included in

Christianity Commons