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Etsi deus non daretur: Bonhoeffer’s useful misuse of Grotius’ maxim and its implications for evangelisation in the world come of age

Lenehan, Kevin A. (2013) Etsi deus non daretur: Bonhoeffer’s useful misuse of Grotius’ maxim and its implications for evangelisation in the world come of age. The Bonhoeffer LEgacy: Australasian Journal of Bonhoeffer Studies, 1 (1). pp. 34-60. ISSN 2202-9168

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Abstract

The maxim, etsi deus non daretur, a contraction of the formula used by Hugo Grotius in his major work on international law, has often been cited recently by the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church to describe the post-Enlightenment emphasis on the autonomy of the human person, who thinks and acts “as if God does not exist”. In that context, recent popes have called for a ‘new evangelisation’ of Western culture in response to the challenge of this modern self-understanding. It is by way of the prison writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that the etsi deus has been taken up by Christian thinkers since the 1960s. Interestingly, for Bonhoeffer too this maxim was part of an analysis of his historical context, and the need for the church to learn a new language in which the Gospel could be express in this world “come of age”
In this paper, I will locate Bonhoeffer’s use of the maxim etsi Deus non daretur within the overall argument of the ‘new theology’ in his later prison writings, which also involves addressing the question of the relation of these late writings to Bonhoeffer’s theology in general. Secondly, I will trace Bonhoeffer’s reception of this maxim via the writings of Wilhelm Dilthey, and ask whether it accurately reflects the purposes for which Grotius originally employed it. Finally, I will consider how Bonhoeffer’s thought on proclaiming the Word of God in the world “come of age” contributes to our understanding of the contemporary mission of the church.

Item Type: Published Articles
Repository Version: Author's Final Manuscript
Keywords: Bonhoeffer, Dilthey, Pascal, etsi deus non daretur
Fields of Research: 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: C - Church History
C - Systematic Theology
College/Association with University of Divinity: CTC: Catholic Theological College
Depositing User: Rev Dr Kevin A. Lenehan
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2014 02:45
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2014 02:54
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/1408

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