Rudolf Bultmann was one of the leading thinkers within an influential theological direction
that arose in Europe after the First World War, known as dialectical theology. Comprehensive
introductions to the life and work of Bultmann in the South African theological journals,
written in Afrikaans, either does not exist, or are difficult to trace for the Afrikaans readership.
This article on Bultmann aims to fill the gap by offering a lexicographical contribution on the
life and work of Bultmann. The focus of this article is on Bultmann as a Lutheran thinker. The
theme of the New Testament and systematic theology is essentially the same, namely to explain
the concept of Christian self-understanding as an eschatological event in which faith is
expressed for the sake of faith in God and only in God. Bultmann explained the same theological
concepts with his theology as those that were explained by the church reformers of the 16th
century, but under radically new circumstances. The so-called modern and postmodern people
of our time not only broke ties with the past, but in the process they also lost their ability for
using historical-critical patterns of thought that tries to bridge historical distances, and
therefore sacrificed all efforts to think systematically on the altar of relativism. We can learn
from Bultmann what systematic reformed theology really is.
Dr Gafie van Wyk is
participating in the research
project, ‘Ecumenical creeds
and Confessions’, directed by
Dr Wim Dreyer, Department
of Church History and Church
Polity, Faculty of Theology,
University of Pretoria.