Stephen Grusendorf


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the twentieth century German theologian, wrote as he lived, in a manner that challenged the status quo, and his life was guided by one of his key ethical arguments: "the penultimate must be preserved for the sake of the ultimate.†In order to understand this ethic adequately, the nature and practicality of the two key words “ultimate†and “penultimate†must be investigated. A methodology for the application of Bonhoefferian ethics can be developed by utilizing the twentieth century American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In return, Maslow’s hierarchy can be informed by Bonhoeffer’s theology.



Bonhoeffer, Maslow, ethics, penultimate, sociology, theology

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Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 2005. Ethics. Vol. 6, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, edited by Clifford J. Green. Translated by Reinhard Krauss, Charles C. West, and Douglas W. Stott. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 2010. Letters and Papers from Prison. Vol. 8, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, edited by John W. DeGruchy. Translated by Isabel Best, Lisa E. Dahill, Reinhard Krauss, Nancy Lukens, Barbara Rumscheidt and Martin Rumscheidt. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

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Maslow, A.H. 1954. Motivation and Personality. New York, NY: Harper Row.

Maslow, A.H. 1964. Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences. New York, NY: Penguin Compass.

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Plant, Stephen. 2013. “The Evangelization of Rules, Bonhoeffer’s Political Theology” in Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture, edited by Timothy Larsen and Keith Johnson. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press

Wheeldon, Jeff. 2016. “Theology and Sociology, Sociology as Theology.” Journal of Sociology and Christianity, 6(2):6-23.

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