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The Quest for Ubuntu in a Coming-of-Age South Africa – Questions Arising from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Latter Ideas

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Bonhoeffer's latter prison letters contained radical questions about his church's theology in its approach to the secularization (or coming-of-age) of post-Enlightenment Western society. These led him to a burst of remarkable theological exploration in his desire to 'go right back to the beginnings' and try to produce a christologically-based 'non-religious interpretation of biblical concepts'. Here we attempt to follow his exploratory ideas, unworked out as they are, and look for links with the present South African scene: first, the theological scene with its question whether this is the moment for a new Kairos Document and, second, the more general scene in which black intellectuals in particular have been challenged to help awaken the vision and practice of ubuntu (the concept of fullness of being-in-relatedness) – which is too important an objective to be treated in merely socio-political terms. Can Bonhoeffer's legacy, then, encourage fruitful discussion between Christian theology and the proposed intellectual discourse?

Affiliations: 1: School of Physics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, Republic of South Africa


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