Opening the Church to the Other: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Reception of Ernst Troeltsch

U. Schmiedel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Many ecclesiologists assume that pluralisation is a problem for churches. By drawing on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s reception of Ernst Troeltsch, however, the author argues that pluralisation is instead a promise. Portraits which paint Bonhoeffer as ‘alternative’ to Troeltsch (and Troeltsch as ‘alternative’ to Bonhoeffer) have been proposed persistently. But in the ecclesiological explorations which Bonhoeffer elaborated in the 1920s and in the 1940s, Troeltsch’s impact on Bonhoeffer is neither simply negative nor simply positive–and should not be underestimated. The author aims to demonstrate that Bonhoeffer develops the ecclesiology which Troeltsch demanded in critical and creative discussion with him. Since it suggests that experiences of the other allow for encounters with God as much as encounters with God allow for experiences of the other, this ecclesiology provokes a re-thinking of pluralisation which might be important and instructive for the church in its current pluralised and pluralising contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-198
JournalInternational Journal for the Study of the Christian Church
Issue number3
Early online date6 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Church
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • ecclesiology
  • Ernst Troeltsch
  • otherness
  • Peter L. Berger
  • pluralisation
  • secularisation


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