Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986) | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 30, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0960-2720
  • E-ISSN: 2666-9730



The German theologian Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986), whose books were translated into many languages, is still relevant, for example because of his ideas on the essence of religion, on sin and on the value of human life. After a short biography, this article discusses Thielicke’s conservatism and his relationship to the theologies of Karl Barth and Paul Tillich. Martin Luther was most important for him and the article considers three Lutheran topics at the centre of his thinking: the doctrine of the (the image of God), the relation between law and gospel, and the doctrine of the two kingdoms. Thielicke advocated a close relationship between Church and theology, in particular between preaching and theology, and he saw dialogue as a ‘prolegomenon phase’ of Christian mission. During the ‘roaring 60s’ he realised that societal structures do need to be considered critically.


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  1. Berkhof, Hendrikus, Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Study of the Faith rev. edn (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986); Dutch original Christelijk geloof. Een inleiding tot de geloofsleer (Nijkerk: Callenbach, 1985).
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  2. Thielicke, Helmut, Der evangelische Glaube I (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1968).
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  3. Thielicke, Helmut, Zu Gast auf einen schönen Stern. Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben [1986] (Gießen: Brunnen Verlag, 2007).
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  4. Thielicke, Helmut, Auf der Suche nach dem verlorenen Wort (Bergisch Gladbach: Lübbe, 1988).
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