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God, the middle term: Bonhoeffer, Kierkegaard, and Christ’s mediation in works of love

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Koert Verhagen

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In this article, I argue that in Works of Love Søren Kierkegaard stays true to his Lutheran roots in detailing an ethic of neighbor love that draws deeply on and unfolds the implications of the inseparable realities of justification and Christ’s mediation in the social sphere. The article unfolds in two parts. Since neither of these realities are explicit in Works of Love, the first part considers Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s account of Christ as mediator in order to provide a framework for thinking about and identifying their presence in Kierkegaard’s thought. Engaging with Bonhoeffer in this manner is particularly useful, not least because he was deeply influenced by Kierkegaard and also stood in the Lutheran tradition, but also because although he outlines the expansive nature of Christ’s mediatorial work to tantalizing effect, he never unfolds its concrete, ethical implications for the Christian life. With the key aspects of Bonhoeffer’s account in mind, the second part of this article demonstrates and argues for an overlooked theological dynamic in Works of Love: namely, that Kierkegaard’s account of God’s mediation not only shares these keys aspects, but also unfolds the ethical implications of Christ’s mediation for the Christian life.


Original languageEnglish
Article number78
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2020

    Research areas

  • Bonhoeffer, Christology, Ethics, God-relationship, Justification, Kierkegaard, Mediation, Works of Love

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