Theo Badenhorst


Gollwitzer mentions Luther and Barth as his two greatest teachers. As with Luther, justification by faith alone plays a very important role in his theology. Gollwitzer, however, places it in a broader framework, namely that of the kingdom of God. In connection with the latter, he also changes the Lutheran order of law-gospel to gospel-law, following Barth.

Another category that plays an important role for him, is life. To live meaningfully, man must first receive life as meaningful. This is simultaneously receiving freedom. To live meaningfully, man must have freedom as a beginning-not an end in front of him. The gift of meaningful life is conveyed by the gospel of Christ and received in faith.

Meaning, which is received as a gift, differs in principle from usefulness. Modern society is being dominated by the principle of usefulness and achievement. This, however, dehumanizes man. The distinction between meaning and usefulness (I e the gospel) has a radically critical bearing on society.

Through faith in Christ man is placed in a new relationship with God, who is actively renovating his creation. Faith for Gollwitzer therefore is praxis, social praxis. People whose lives have been changed by this faith, become actively engaged in society in a liberating praxis. This for Gollwitzer, means socialism.

 According to Golwitzer reflexion (e g theology) can only be done out of the social praxis. This poses a hermeneutical problem. It is not clear whether the extra nos of the gospel remains secure in the progress of Gollwitzer’s theology.


Gollwitzer; Luther; Barth; Faith; Kingdom of God; Law-gospel; Gospel-law; Live meaningfully; Social praxis

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/35-0-1857


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

Attribution CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Powered by OJS and hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2013.


This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.

SUNJournals Help