Individualism in the Christology of Helmut Thielicke's sermons : analysis and response
The overall purpose of this thesis is to explore the difficulty of an individualised Christology in the postmodern world and to offer possible avenues for the Church in addressing it. Throughout the thesis we use the example of Helmut Thielicke to demonstrate the nature of an individualistic christology. His sermons are particularly singled out because they serve as the main vehicle through which his Christology reached the people. Thielieke is important to our goals for several reasons. For one, he represents a christological approach that is highly individualistic. Secondly, Thielicke is representative of a shift in the christological paradigm within Lutheranism. Discovering whether that shift is helpful or harmful directly affects how Lutheranism relates in the postmodern world. The thesis will progress through three stages to accomplish our goals. The first three chapters form the first stage. Their purpose is to establish concrete examples of the way Thielicke's individualised christology affects specific key doctrines in classic Lutheranism, as well as how it impacts the more general areas of Lutheran ecclesiology and sacramental tlieology. The second stage involves chapters four and five. The purpose here is to search for additional roots of Thielicke's individualism. Chapter four looks to the influences of both philosophy and secular social thought on Thielicke's Christology. Chapter five seeks to find Thielicke's place within the overall development of the individual. Chapters six and seven form the final stage and represent our response to the kind of individualised christology Thielicke represents. We begin in chapter six by proposing a Theology of Presence as part of the solution to individualism. We conclude in chapter seven offering practical ways this theology can be applied in the postmodern context. Our conclusions will lead us toward the importance of establishing a new metanarrative based on a more corporate form of christology.