Decision in the thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Carl Schmitt : a comparative study

Radler, Karola S. (2019-12)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis investigates the significance of “decision” within Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s concept of the church and Carl Schmitt’s theory of the state, and their underlying structural differences. Bonhoeffer and Schmitt perceived, respectively, a constitutional and confessional crisis of significance that demanded an urgent decision. In the context of the approach of the National Socialist attempt to synchronize the Protestant Church to the National Socialist state in Germany during the early 20th century, Bonhoeffer insisted on God’s decision in Christ. Schmitt, in turn, insisted on Dezision, a specific jurisprudential form with regard to jurisdiction and content that is revealed by the exception. Bonhoeffer’s and Schmitt’s positions on “decision” are compared primarily through a study of their earlier work. Bonhoeffer’s brother-in-law and friend Gerhard Leibholz had a detailed knowledge of Fascism and Schmitt’s theories. This most likely provided Bonhoeffer with early insights into jurisprudential thought and the theory of state. Bonhoeffer’s and Schmitt’s respective concepts of the church and of the state built on the contemporary jurisprudential discourse on the juristic person and the natural person. Bonhoeffer drew upon codified juristic institutional models, modified them, and added a specific Christological center. Schmitt developed a method that used analogies for transferring the systematic structure of theological concepts to the modern theory of state. This thesis analyses their concept of “decision” using the indicators of choices between alternatives, the urgency of resolving the problem, the intended goal, and the active manifestation of their positions. For Schmitt, a constitutional compromise regarding political leadership had produced a choice between representation and identity which he attempted to solve with abstractions that separated metaphysical content from objective normative evaluation, a theory of linear history with successive ideas and elites, and an elevation of the significance of the self over content and subject in structural analogy to theological dogma and the representation of the idea of Christ through personality. Bonhoeffer discovered a modern version of the Docetic heresy at the root of the paradigm associated with Schmitt’s Dezision which abstracted idea from appearance. With God’s revelation in Christ at the center of the church, history, and human life, he challenged the structural elements of Schmitt’s Dezision. Bonhoeffer, one can argue, redirected Schmitt’s unity of identity to wholeness through reconciliation, Schmitt’s political idea to God’s revelation, his synchronization (gleich-schalten) to conformation (gleich-gestalten), his representation of political ideas to Trinitarian identity, his idea “becoming human” (Mensch werden) in the appearance of personality to person “having become human” (Mensch geworden) in the once-ness of Christ.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif stel ondersoek in na die belang van “besluitneming” in Dietrich Bonhoeffer se konsep van die kerk en Carl Schmitt se teorie van die staat, en hul onderliggende strukturele verskille. Beide Bonhoeffer en Schmitt het ‘n konstitusionele en konfessionele krisis bespeur wat ‘n dringende besluit sou vereis. In die konteks van die Nasionaal-Sosialistiese poging in die vroeë 20ste eeu om die Protestantse Kerk met die Nasionaal-Sosialistiese staat gelyk te stel, het Bonhoeffer aangedring op God se besluit in Christus. Schmitt het op sy beurt aangedring op Dezision, ‘n spesifiek regsfilosofiese vorm wat betrekking het op regspraak en -inhoud wat deur die uitsondering geopenbaar word. Bonhoeffer en Schmitt se opvattings oor besluitneming” word primêr deur ‘n studie van hul vroeë werk vergelyk. Bonhoeffer se swaer en vriend, Gerhard Leibholz, het omvattende kennis van Fascisme en Schmitt se teorieë gehad. Dit het waarskynlik vir Bonhoeffer insig in regsfilosofiese denke en die staatsteorie gebied. Bonhoeffer en Schmitt se onderskeie begrippe van die kerk en die staat het op die jurisprudensiële diskoers van hul dag oor die regspersoon en die natuurlike persoon voortgebou. Bonhoeffer het van gekodifiseerde regsinstellingsmodelle gebruik gemaak, hierdie modelle aangepas, en hul van ‘n spesifieke Christologiese sentrum voorsien. Schmidt het ‘n metode ontwikkel wat van analogieë gebruik gemaak het om die sistematiese struktuur van teologiese konsepte na die moderne staatsteorie oor te dra. Hierdie proefskrif ontleed hul begrip van “besluitneming” deur die sleutelaanwysers van keuses tussen alternatiewe, die dringendheid van probleemoplossing, die beoogde doelwit, en die aktiewe manifestasie van hul posisies. Vir Schmitt het ‘n grondwetlike kompromie aangaande politieke leierskap ‘n keuse na vore gebring tussen representasie en identifikasie wat hy wou oplos deur abstraksies wat metafisiese inhoud van objektiewe normatiewe evaluering sou skei – ‘n teorie van liniêre geskiedenis met opeenvolgende idees en elites, en ‘n verheffing van die beduidendheid van die self bo inhoud en subjek in strukturele analogie tot teologiese dogma en die voorstelling van die idee van Christus deur persoonlikheid. Bonhoeffer het ontdek dat ‘n moderne weergawe van die Dosetiese dwaalleer, waar idee van voorkoms geskei word, by die bron van die paradigma wat met Schmitt se Dezision geassosieer word, te vinde is. Met God se openbaring in Christus as middelpunt van die kerk, geskiedenis, en menslike lewe het hy die strukturele elemente van Schmitt se Dezision uitgedaag. Mens sou kon aanvoer dat Bonhoeffer Schmitt se denke radikaal heroriënteer: van eenheid van identiteit na heelheid deur versoening, van ‘n sekere politieke idee na die openbaring van God, van sinkronisasie (gleichschalten) na konformasie (gleich-gestalten), van sekere voorstellings van politieke idees na Trinitariese identiteit, van ‘n verstaan van ‘menswording’ (Mensch werden) in die verskyning van persoonlikheid na ‘persoonlikheid wat mens geword het’ (Mensch geworden) in die eens-heid van Christus.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107319
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