Wednesday 28 June 2006

Eberhard Jüngel: seven theses on the freedom of theology

1. The freedom of theology is the exercise of theology’s right to be exclusively theology.
2. The freedom of theology is the freedom of Christian existence perceived in the responsibility of thinking.
3. The freedom of theology has its possibility in the place of theology [i.e., its position over against the Word of God].
4. The freedom of theology has its reality in the word of theology.
5. The freedom of theology has its necessity in the necessity of theology.
6. The freedom of theology is carried out in the controversy over the freedom of theology.
7. The freedom of theology becomes concrete in the demands of freedom.

[Jüngel goes on to develop each of these theses with a series of sub-theses, resulting in a total of no fewer than 166 theses on the freedom of theology!]

—Eberhard Jüngel, “Die Freiheit der Theologie,” in Entsprechungen: Gott, Wahrheit, Mensch (München: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1986), p. 29.


Steve Hayes said...

The first one seemed so odd to me that I didn't really get much further, speaking about "the right of theology". Can anything less than a person have "rights"?

I prefer the comment of St Nilus and others: "A theologian is one who prays, and one who prays is a theologian."

David W. Congdon said...

Jüngel is making a point: that theology over the centuries has been subsumed within other disciplines -- philosophy primarily, but recently psychology and sociology as well. His point is the same as Barth's: we must be free to think and speak according to God's self-revelation alone, without being constrained by other disciplines and patterns of thought (re: metaphysics).

Ben, I am intrigued by the close similarities between these theses and the ones given by Ebeling in the last essay of Word and Faith.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Steve -- don't worry, a lot of people feel the same way about Jüngel (and he himself seems to take pride in the obscurity of his thought)!

Thanks for pointing out this parallel, David -- there does seem to be a definite parallel here, especially to the first section of Ebeling's essay, on "the necessity of theology". Presumably Jüngel took this idea of theology's "necessity" directly from Ebeling (and some of Jüngel's sub-theses on this topic are also similar to Ebeling's theses).

I like Ebeling's paradoxical idea that theology is necessary only in order to make itself superfluous by making proclamation necessary. In other words, theology is necessary in order to become unnecessary!

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