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The Cross of Reality: Luther's Theologia Crucis and Bonhoeffer's Christology
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The Cross of Reality: Luther's Theologia Crucis and Bonhoeffer's Christology


Fortress Press 2015

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The Cross of Reality investigates Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s interpretation and use of Martin Luther’s theology in shaping his Christology. In this volume, H. Gaylon Barker uses the “theology of the cross” as a key to understanding the characteristic elements that make up Bonhoeffer’s theology and shows how Bonhoeffer’s conversation develops with his teachers and contemporaries.

Bonhoeffer’s thought was radical and revolutionary because of its adherence to the classical traditions of the church, especially Luther’s theologia crucis. When his theology is understood in light of this tradition, his “nonreligious interpretation” is not a radical departure from his earlier theology, but is the mature expression of his theology of the cross.

Bonhoeffer’s Lutheran roots would not allow him to turn his back on the problems and tragedies of the world. In fact, because God had turned toward the world, had entered into the world, and identified with suffering individuals, the only proper sphere for theological reflection was this world. Theology properly conceived, therefore, is very this-worldly. It is this worldly character that gives it its power to speak.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Further explore the topic of Lutheran Christology with Incarnation: On the Scope and Depth of Christology.

Key Features

  • Investigates Bonhoeffer’s use of Luther’s theology in shaping his Christology
  • Uses the theology of the cross as a key to understanding Bonhoeffer’s theology
  • Shows how the cross matters at every turn in Bonhoeffer’s journey


  • Bonhoeffer and Karl Holl
  • Bonhoeffer and Luther
  • University Studies
  • Dissertations
  • New York and Berlin
  • The German Church Struggle
  • Finkenwalde
  • Post-Finkenwalde Writings
  • Resistance and Ethics
  • Imprisonment 1943–1945
  • Bonhoeffer’s Cross of Reality

Praise for the Print Edition

No theologian left a deeper imprint on Bonhoeffer than Luther. And no locus of theology permeated his life and thought more profoundly than Luther’s theologia crucis. The beauty of The Cross of Reality is to show its formative power from beginning to middle to end in Bonhoeffer’s consistent turn to the tumultuous reality that engulfed his own life and that of his nation, family, and church.

—Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary

Product Details

  • Title: The Cross of Reality: Luther’s Theologia Crucis and Bonhoeffer’s Christology
  • Author: H. Gaylon Barker
  • Publisher: Fortress Press
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Pages: 480
  • Christian Group: Lutheran
  • Resource Type: Monographs
  • Topic: Theology

About H. Gaylon Barker

H. Gaylon Barker is president of the International Bonhoeffer Society—English language section and served on the editorial board of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English series published by Fortress Press. He also serves as a pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and is adjunct associate professor of theology and religious studies at Molloy College. He is coeditor of Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935-1937 in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works series.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition