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Gogarten, Friedrich

Friedrich Gogarten, 1887–1968, German theologian. He was professor of theology at the Univ. of Jena from 1927 until 1933, when he began to teach at the Univ. of Göttingen. He adopted the anti-idealism of Søren Kierkegaard, and his work is close to that of Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann. Using Barth's dialectical theology, he formulated a fresh interpretation of culture and history but from a Lutheran rather than Calvinist point of view. In his works Politische Ethik (1932) and Der Mensch Zwischen Gott und Welt (1952) he is concerned with the problem of humanity's relation to his religion and to the state. In his chief work, Entmythologisierung und die Kirche (1953; tr. Demythologization and the Church, 1955), he examines and expands on Bultmann's attempt to remove the elements of myth from the New Testament.

See study by L. E. Shiner (1966).

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Gogarten, Friedrich (1887–1968)


Friedrich Gogarten, the German theologian, was born in 1887 at Dortmund. After serving as a pastor in Thuringia, in 1927 he became professor of systematic theology at Jena and in 1935 moved to the corresponding chair at Göttingen. He was early associated with the new dialectical theology and its revolt against liberalism and idealism. Within this movement he stands nearer to Rudolf Bultmann than to Karl Barth, but he worked out a distinctive position of his own. His thought shows the influence of existentialist philosophy, but he claimed that it also continues the insights of Martin Luther, on whom Gogarten was a recognized authority.

Gogarten believed that Luther delivered Christian theology from the hold of metaphysics. This achievement was obscured in the period of Protestant orthodoxy following the Reformation, but it is now time to revive his insights, which can be restated in terms of current existentialist philosophy. According to Gogarten, the major Christian doctrines were formulated under the domination of metaphysical categories, in an age when history was understood as a process that takes place within a stationary metaphysical framework and when the course of history was supposed to be determined by metaphysical factors. Deliverance from metaphysics makes it possible to take history with a new seriousness. Man is responsible for history and creates it by his decisions. So far are we from having an obligation to interpret history in the light of metaphysics that we must rather view metaphysical systems themselves as products of history. Christianity is not dependent on any metaphysical system but is rather the summons to a historical self-understanding, in which we accept responsibility for our own historical existence under the word of God, which addresses us in Christ.

These emphases, which Gogarten relates as much to the sola fide of Luther as to modern existentialism, are developed into a secular interpretation of the Christian gospel. The Christian faith brings man to maturity and strips the world of every mythical or numinous property. The world is deprived of its religious power and is handed over to man as the son who has come of age, the heir to whom God has entrusted the creation. These views are related by Gogarten especially to the teaching of St. Paul in Galatians 4:111.

See also Barth, Karl; Bultmann, Rudolf; Idealism; Liberalism; Luther, Martin; Metaphysics, History of.


works by gogarten

Ich glaube an den dreieinigen Gott. Jena: E. Diederichs, 1926.

Illusionen, eine Auseinandersetzung mit dem Kulturidealismus. Jena: E. Diederichs, 1926.

Glaube und Wirklichkeit. Jena: E. Diederichs, 1928.

Politische Ethik. Jena: E. Diederichs, 1932.

Das Bekenntnis der Kirche. Jena: E. Diederichs, 1934.

Die Kirche in der Welt. Heidelberg: L. Schneider, 1948.

Die Verkündigung Jesus Christi. Heidelberg, 1948.

Verhängnis und Hoffnung der Neuzeit. Stuttgart, 1953.

Entmythologisierung und die Kirche. Stuttgart, 1953. Translated as Demythologizing and History. London: SCM Press, 1955.

Der Mensch zwischen Gott und Welt. Stuttgart, 1956.

Die Wirklichkeit des Glaubens. Stuttgart: F. Vorwerk, 1957. Translated by Carl Michalson and others as The Reality of Faith. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1959.

Gogarten also edited various works of Luther and contributed extensively to Zwischen den Zeiten, the journal of the dialectical theology group.

works on gogarten

Siegfried, T. Die Theologie der Existenz bei Friedrich Gogarten und Rudolf Bultmann. Gotha, 1933. The most satisfactory critical exposition of Gogarten's thought.

John Macquarrie (1967)

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"Gogarten, Friedrich (1887–1968)." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . 22 Nov. 2017 <>.

"Gogarten, Friedrich (1887–1968)." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . (November 22, 2017).

"Gogarten, Friedrich (1887–1968)." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Retrieved November 22, 2017 from