How does Christian ethics begin? This pioneering study explores the grammar of the Christian life as it is embodied and learned in worship as the formative experience of Christian communities. In a careful analysis of biblical and traditional conceptions of worship, Wannenwetsch demonstrates how worship challenges the deepest antagonisms in political thought and social practice. Particular worship practices are examined and their ethical and political significance is explored.
This essay investigates the idea of self-proprietorship as the concealed ideological basis beneath our most fraught ethical discourses on bodily matters pertaining to birth, health, sex and death. It questions the sense in which such discourses, and their corresponding societal practices, in turn serve as a practical apology for this troubling anthropology that has come to sustain capitalism. ‘Self-proprietorship’ is analysed for its phenomenological basis in the actual task of learning to own one’s body, and traced in its early philosophical (...) instantiations in Hobbes and Locke. These sources are then contrasted with an account of non-proprietary possession of one’s body, rooted in the astonishing authority granted the spouses in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, a nuanced treatment of porneia and chastity, and the evocative bodily receptions of Christian worship. (shrink)
Wannenwetsch shows how worship challenges the deepest antagonisms in political thought and social practice through careful analysis of biblical and traditional conceptions of worship. Particular worship practices are examined for their ethical and political significance.
The essay is intended to shed light on the back-stage of contemporary debates about death and the dying, and more specifically on newer trends that emphasise the importance of ‘dying well’ and the moral viability of a ‘good death’. It raises the question as to whether there is a hidden conceptual link between the high medieval tradition of ars moriendi and the modern trend towards embracing (assisted) suicide as a final expression of human autonomy and suggests that this link becomes (...) visible only when death is theologically understood in a twofold way: according to its spiritual side on the one hand, and according to its physical on the other. Drawing inspiration from Bonhoeffer’s exposition of the biblical myth of the Fall and his insights into the link between thanatos and techne, the essay suggests that the compulsive fashion in which modern societies tend to shy away from any contact with the dying that is not mediated by technology or bureaucracy is owed to their refusal to acknowledge the dual character of death, as it is open to theological analysis. (shrink)
The essay explains why, for Christians, responsible acting and living means responding to Christ and neighbour, and not to a `responsible self'. The history of the concept, `responsibility', is traced from its origin in Roman juridical language, by way of its being theologised in medieval times, up to the peculiar moral slant it acquired in modernity. The author challenges the mainstream understanding of `responsibility as accountability' by demonstrating that it rests on a theological mistake which ultimately invites moral self-justification. This (...) is demonstrated by critically contrasting H. R. Niebuhr's `responsible self' with Bonhoeffer's account of' responsible action'. (shrink)
The article examines sin through the lens of forgetfulness, as both are phenomena situated between passivity and activity, and intricately linked in the biblical tradition. It shows how the propensity to forget God is rooted in a particular form of presence that is characteristic of YHWH. The narrative of the making of the golden calf is analysed for its potential to highlight the ‘predicament’ peculiar to the Jewish and Christian faiths: to seek a more palpable divine presence than that in (...) the word alone. The article explores this theme further by way of theologically juxtaposing the calf with the Agnus Dei and offering considerations on conscience, confession and the opacity of the Christian life. (shrink)
This essay introduces the political thought of Hans G. Ulrich as it is presented in his seminal work Wie Geschöpfe leben. What sets Ulrich's thought apart from most other authors in the field is that his interest is not in an account of community or citizenship, but in the status politicus — the political form of existence that is bestowed on human beings as God's creatures who are called to be `ruled by the spirit' instead of succumbing to any form (...) of rule by which human beings exert dominion over human beings. Drawing from Biblical sources and a fresh reading of Luther's doctrine of the two regimes in the spirit of the Confessing Church, Ulrich arrives at a highly emancipative account of political existence that does not derive its rationale from the necessity for co-existence or common action, but from the liberation from `ungodly ties' that prevent people from free discourse and cooperation. (shrink)
À la négligence théologique de la loi, faiblesse de la tradition éthique protestante, l’auteur propose un remède : un « sensus aestheticus legis ». Il établit d’abord comment l’opposition de la Loi à l’Évangile a conduit à en retenir surtout les connotations négatives. Mais ce caractère unilatéral, montre-t-il aussitôt, dérive d’une interprétation étroite de la théologie de Luther, ignorant que le réformateur reconnaît dans la loi un don divin avant la chute. En second lieu, à partir d’une relecture du psaume (...) 119, l’auteur attire l’attention sur le rapport sensuel du psalmiste à la Torah. La parole divine n’est pas objet d’interprétation mais sujet vivant dans un dialogue ; elle est « voix » plutôt que « texte ». La métaphore de la loi en tant que « lampe des pieds » invite donc à « promener » les commandements de Dieu dans le but d’explorer le monde grâce à la lumière qu’ils donnent. (shrink)
The essay critically engages Woltertorff’s account of justice by challenging the political status of its archaeological defence of rights language, its prioritizing of ‘primary’ and therefore ‘procedural’ justice, its suggestion to think of rights as ‘social bonds’ and the validity of subjecting God and world under one and the same concept of ‘worth’.
The essay undertakes a theological genealogy of the spirit of managerialism as it affects churches today by tracing it back to hermeneutical shifts in the history of (Protestant) theology: the loss of the externality of the word as a result of Schleiermacherian hermeneutics as it moved the centre of attention from a doctrine of the word to a doctrine of faith. The author demonstrates how the shift to inwardness created the conditions in which the market of 'spiritual needs' could emerge (...) that today's church managers capitalize on. Theological analysis is embedded in a narrative account of an instructive controversy in the German Protestant churches in the 1990s when a group of theologians produced a manifesto 'Against the Economisation of the Church'. (shrink)