...Whereas I am Trying to Think Theologically: Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Hidden Dialogue with Carl Schmitt on Representation: A Theological Response to A Jurisprudential Challenge during a Political Crisis

  • Author / Creator
    Karola Susanne Radler
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer responded with his theological interpretation known as discipleship in responsible, mature representation of Christ (Stellvertretung) in a hidden dialogue to Carl Schmitt’s jurisprudential, ideological “political theology” of mythical totalitarian leadership (Repräsentanz), developed during the early 20th century in Germany. In an interdisciplinary investigation of mainly primary literature sources is laid open a hitherto overlooked perspective on Bonhoeffer’s theology and the relevance of Bonhoeffer’s and Schmitt’s intellectual encounter for the world of the 21st century. Bonhoeffer, due to his close access to professor of constitutional law Gerhard Leibholz, his brother-in-law, was aware of jurisprudential thought as well as of Schmitt’s theories and pointedly used juristic concepts within his theology. He confronted Schmitt’s system of ‘Identity of Oneness’ with a ‘Triangular Relationship’ which incorporated aspects of Leibholz’s opposition to Schmitt. The structural elements of Domain, Unity, Sovereign, and Grounding revealed that legal individual rights granted by a worldly authority can be manipulated and repealed by using mythical identities but that the personal freedom to responsible decisions and actions given by the ‘original’ authority is irrevocable. Contemporary situations showed that their intellectual dialogue on representation transcends the context of its origin. Bonhoeffer’s theological response of Stellvertretung to Schmitt’s jurisprudential challenge of Repräsentanz receives renewed vigour whenever and wherever a human-made organizational framework of ‘life together’ is in a socio-economically and politically unstable situation of transition in which the balance between jurisprudential and theological interpretations is renegotiated.

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  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Theological Studies (Honours)
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  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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  • Institution
    University of Alberta
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  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Rev. Dr. Dittmar MÜndel
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Bill Close
    • Dr. Earle Sharam