The Final Work of a Theologian

Dr. Arnd Hollweg finished his final book just days before his heart failed


In Memoriam


Before going to the hospital with severe heart problems earlier this year, Dr. Arnd Hollweg was able to finish the manuscript of the book he had worked on for years. It was published in July by the publishing house Frank & Timme in Berlin. The title is: Lebensgrund in Gott. Erkennen im Glauben und Erkennen in den Wissenschaften in ihrem Verhältnis zueinander (in English: Grounding our Life in God. Discernment in faith and discernment in the sciences, and the interrelationships between the two).


Dr. Arnd Hollweg’s death was not only a heartfelt loss to his family, but to the BWW Society as well. Dr. Hollweg was a frequent contributor to the Journal of Global Issues & Solutions and was a Founding Member of the Society at its inception in 2001.


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Dr. Hollweg’s final work, Grounding Our Life in God, considers the following: “When we ask about God, then we really ask on what is our human life grounded?  From what do we derive meaning, security and coherence?  What makes our human existence possible and fulfilling?  As Christians we do not find the basis for our humanity in the world around us, nor within our own selves, but instead we find  it grounded in God, who through the working of his spirit in Jesus Christ becomes present in our own lives. What does this mean for our lives within the global setting? The concept of this book is far-reaching, from the philosophy of Descartes through to modern digitalism, yet always in dialogue with the Biblical witness to faith set against the backdrop of modern history, and in continual critical discussion with science and technology.  This book seeks to make a contribution to our present-day search for God’s way with human beings in the world, and to our discernment of his will in faith.”


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Dr. Hollweg was born on March 23, 1927 in Mönchengladbach, Germany. He studied theology, social sciences, psychology, philosophy, and theory of education at the universities of Bonn, Göttingen, Tübingen, Münster and the University of California at Los Angeles. From 1955 until 1963, he was a religious teacher and lecturer at the Institute of Theology and Education of Rhineland Protestant Church, as well as Region Pastor for Christian education. In 1964 and 1965, he worked as Researcher at the Ecumenical Institute at the University of Bonn, then he served as Pastor in Bad Honnef until 1972. The following year Dr. Hollweg joined the German Protestant Church’s Headquarters of the Diaconical Relief Center as a Department Head and Editor of Diakonie until 1976. He later served as Pastor and Chairman of the German Reformed Church in West Berlin for the next fourteen years. From 1978 until 1983, Dr. Hollweg taught at Free University and Kirchliche Hochschule Berlin. From1990 onward, he was a scientist and freelance writer. Dr. Hollweg leaves behind his wife, Astrid, who he married in 1961, and three daughters, Heike, Uta, and Karen, and four granddaughters.


In addition to his final work, Dr. Hollweg authored numerous other books, including Gruppendynamik und Interpersonale Theologie; Theologie und Empirie; Gruppe, Gesellschaft, Diakonie; Obdachlosenhilfe (with others); Biblischer Glaube und neuzeitliches Bewusstsein (with Astrid Hollweg), and numerous essays published in journals, handbooks, and collections. Dr. Hollweg, along with others, founded Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pastoralpsychologie; he was a member of Gesellschaft für Gestalttheorie and Gemeinschaft Evangelischer Erzieher. As previously mentioned, Dr. Hollweg was a Founding Member of the BWW Society at its inception in 2001 and was a highly valued member of the Society.


Against the background of American and Continental European traditions, Dr. Hollweg searched for a new approach to theological thinking about human life in the context of history and nature. Stressing the close connection between theological, philosophical and scientific questions and the empirical reality which we are living in, he rejected purely intellectual approaches on the basis of a metaphysical or scientific ontology. Human beings have to be included from the very beginning in the perception of reality. Following biblical theology and its Jewish-Christian tradition, Dr. Hollweg believed that human identity is rooted in the relation with God, who comes from outside into human life and into the world by his Spirit. God can therefore be found in the real world if we open ourselves to his transcendence and enter into a dialogue with him. Truth and reality are mediated in life. Our relations with God and our neighbors, with all of human society, with ourselves and with the world belong together in freedom, commitment and responsibility. It was Dr. Hollweg’s intention to break up the dichotomic and totalitarian structures of thinking which separate transcendence and immanence, the inner and the outer world, split operational reason and divide spirit from body, individuals from humankind and the world of science from the world of experience.


Dr. Hollweg always saw the functional operational processes in modern society from the perspective of interpersonal responsibility in social life and in terms of the different concepts of democratic group dynamics which have evolved for the leadership of Christian congregations and social therapy groups. These are combined with depth psychology and organizational counseling in theory and practice. Dr. Hollweg participated in the BWW Society’s ongoing interdisciplinary discussion on the basis of epistemology and of the history of science.



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