ThG Abstracts 1-2021

Bewährungsprobe Synodalität. Ein gemeinsames Ringen um die Zukunftsgestalt der Kirche

The Synodal Path is under pressure: supporters associate it with great expectations, critics try to expose it as a non-binding discussion process. After almost two years, the reform path of the Catholic Church in Germany is slowly taking on its own contours under the observation of the universal church. With a “look behind the scenes”, this article provides information about the Synodal Path, its not always straightforward but exciting initial phase, the growing together at various levels, perceptible changes in mentality, future hurdles, lingering dissent, and other game-changing moments.

Umkehr und Erneuerung. Der Synodale Weg im Kontext der Weltkirche

The Synodal Path does not only occupy the Catholic Church in Germany; it attracts worldwide attention: It faces the task of mastering the special challenge resulting from the pastoral situation in Germany on the one hand, and intensifying cohesion in the universal Church, not least with the Holy See, on the other. This task demands a critical reflection on the occasion, the form, the international dialogue and the future prospects of the Synodal Path. It shows paradigmatically that the synodal element in the Catholic Church must be programmatically continued, so that the bishops are not isolated, but better placed in the context of the entire People of God.

Der Synodale Weg in Deutschland. Eindrücke und Erfahrungen von innen

In the four synodal forums, the think tanks of the Synodal Path, the thematic fields are discussed and texts are prepared for the synodal assembly. For each forum, one member presents thematic reflections and experiences from the work in the four synodal forums: What is discussed and how is this done? How does church debate culture succeed in this format? How is church experienced here? How is church (doctrinal) development shaped?

Der Synodale Weg in Deutschland. Eindrücke und Beobachtungen von außen

Most Catholics in the Czech Republic unfortunately have little information and little interest in what is happening in the churches of neighboring countries. There are still many prejudices, stereotypes and fear of contact. Many Christians suffered a “culture shock” in the encounter with Western-style churches after the fall of communism. But for others, the time of persecution was Kairos of purification of the church from former triumphalism and clericalism. In the current polarized times, this part of the Church (a small but vibrant minority) – in many cases sympathizers of Pope Francis – is activated. These people follow the synodal process in the German Church with sympathy and expectation. But they also ask a number of critical questions.


Theologie und Gesellschaft

Voll(e) Macht. Eine politische Perspektive

Forms of participation can vary greatly in different areas of life. However, it is a fundamental requirement of modern societies that people are actively involved in the decisions that affect them. Political participation cannot settle questions of truth, but can produce compromises, which is why the question of transferability to the religious sphere arises. Nevertheless, the past years show that the church, too, is dependent on renewal and on broader participation.


Theologie im Diskurs

Lassen sich Tierversuche ethisch begründen?
Grundsätzliche Überlegungen zur Tierversuchsproblematik

This article discusses the problem of animal experimentation in the context of strongly differentiated animal ethical positions. After a brief historical outline of the problem and a sketch of the present debate on animal ethics, the focus is on medical-ethical and legal questions of present animal ethics and animal experimentation practice. The author argues for a well-founded gradation in the context of the moral significance of living beings.

ThG Abstracts 4-2020

Thomas Johann Bauer
Dem Sinnlosen Sinn geben? Die Gottesfrage in der Krise von Pandemie und Krankheit

Experiencing the actual Corona pandemic and thinking about many people still dying and suffering, even Christian believers may ask if it is reasonable to believe in an almighty God who is good and gracious. The present situation is reason enough to take a closer look on how epidemic and diseases are explained in biblical texts and described in the cultural history of the western world.

Veronika Hoffmann
Hat Gott dunkle Seiten? Der gewalttätige Gott des Buches Josua als „Testfall“

Does God have dark sides? From the large theological field of work on this question, the narrative of the violent conquest of Canaan in Jos 6-12 is chosen as a “test case”. How do we deal with a text that, claiming canonical authority, portrays a violent God? Historical and exegetical explanations help, but by themselves do not solve the problem. Is the biblical God a God who embraces all of reality and therefore also embodies its ambivalence? Or can there be justifiable objections to biblical images of God?

Thomas Johann Bauer
Abseits von Güte und Liebe. Dunkle und erschreckende Züge neutestamentlicher Gottesbilder

The God of the New Testament cannot simply be characterized as “good”. It should not be denied and ignored that New Testament writings often talk about God and his actions in a way that may be confusing and difficult for Christians today. Christian theology has to accept that even the God of the New Testament remains a mystery to human knowledge and thinking so that the way he acts can never be understood completely.


Thomas Brose
Zweifelnd, gläubig und widerständig. Zur Bedeutung katholischer Prägungen im Werk Günter de Bruyns

Günter de Bruyn is characterized by a truthful approach to his own history; he avoids know-it-all attitude and arrogance. The writer makes clear where for him sources of authorship are to be found in the field of tension between literature, power and truth: Being Catholic in the Berlin diaspora – so the thesis of this essay – meant for him to seek support in faith and to let it impregnate his existence and his later writing.


Stephan Winter
 „Die Wort-Gottes-Feier als sacra celebratio“. Anmerkungen zu einer liturgiewissenschaftlichen Neuerscheinung von Wolfgang Meurer

The celebration of the Word of God has become – in various forms – part of the fixed liturgical repertoire of many Roman Catholic congregations. However, its ecclesiological status as well as its liturgy-theologically appropriate design are the subject of many discussions. Wolfgang Meurer's dissertation on liturgical studies in Bonn, published in 2019, provides an important basis for this discussion with its concise reconstruction of the actual intention of the Council in calling for the introduction of this form in SC 35,4 as well as the complex history of its reception up to the present day.


ThG Abstracts 3-2020

Maike Lämmerhirt
Die mittelalterlichen jüdischen Gemeinden in Erfurt – neue Forschungsansätze und -ergebnisse

Despite early scientific publications, Jewish life in medieval Erfurt was long overshadowed by other regions and communities in the research of Jewish history. After the opening of the Old Synagogue Museum, the support of scientific research as part of the planned World Heritage application may well have contributed to the increased perception of Erfurt. Moreover, new questions bring completely different perspectives to the Jewish community in Erfurt in the Middle Ages.

Maria Stürzebecher
Die (Wieder-)Entdeckung und der Umgang mit dem jüdischen Erbe in Erfurt nach 1989

It is only in the last two decades that the Jewish heritage of the city of Erfurt has come into the focus of research. The decisive impetus has been provided by the rediscovery of important buildings and material artefacts such as the Small and Old Synagogues, the medieval mikveh and the Erfurt treasure. These led to intensive research into the history of the Jewish communities, which continues to this day and promises exciting results in the future.

Olaf Glöckner
Zwischen Klassenkampf und Synagoge. Die jüdische Gemeinschaft in der DDR

This text describes how Jews in the GDR were individually striving for respect and their own place in socialist society, often bitterly disappointed. Especially the (demographically) small local Jewish communities were facing a mix of state-run care, distrust and political paternalism for decades. The Jewish communities had to survive self-sufficiently, since they were also isolated from the Western World and from Israel. They developed their own identities and held on community spirit till the end of Cold War, German re-unification and the (saving) in-migration of Russian speaking Jews up from 1990.

Dagmar Mensink
An einem neuen Punkt. Überlegungen zum Stand des jüdisch-katholischen Dialogs

At the moment there is a noticeably frequent balance sheet in the Christian-Jewish dialogue. The need to determine one’s position is understandable from the fact that almost all contexts have changed in Germany – the participants, the issues and the church and social framework. In addition, there is the scientific paradigm shift concerning the development of Christianity out of Judaism. But the dialogue also calls for a new step theologically – for the recognition of contemporary Judaism without being taken in for Christian identity. 55 years after Nostra aetate, new borderlines are needed in which terms and images are examined, further developed and tested in an interdisciplinary and at the same time Judeo-Christian exchange.


Saskia Wendel
Signaturen einer zukünftigen Theologie

Regarding theology’s growing challenge as an academic discipline, it should not primarily be justified through functionality. Instead it can be justified with regard to its contents: In the future, theology is determined to implement its professional specification as an expert for normative reflexion in the Christian practice of faith and its translation work within a plural cultural setting on an organisational level.

Thomas Bahne
Gibt es eine Medizinethik jenseits einer Ethik des Heilens? Jennifer Doudna plädiert für eine gesellschaftliche Debatte zur CRISPR-Technologie

Molecular biological instruments, which enable targeted interventions in the human genome for therapeutic or preventive measures as well as for the purpose of optimizing human properties are available to human medicine at a progressive rate. Jennifer Doudna, the American co-discoverer describes the revolutionary potential of this technology as a tsunami which changes dramatically everything alive. Celebrated as an instrument of God, the CRISPR technology, which empowers the human being to steer the evolution of our own species, is from an ethical perspective a double-edged sword, against whose incurable consequences the authors warn at the same time.

Paul M. Zulehner
Straßburg revisited - Perspektiven für Europa in den Augen von Papst Franziskus

Nationalists are anti-Europeans. But the history of Europe is a constant process of growing together. The Europe of the time after the two world wars is a so far successful peace project. But the foundation of peace is the balance between freedom and justice. Both great values have been fought over in the last centuries. The Christian churches and other world religions, such as Judaism and Islam, have participated in this struggle with commitment and thus tried to give Europe a soul. But this wrestling is never over. Freedom, justice and truth prove to be treasures in fragile vessels.

ThG Abstracts 2-2020

Hans-Jochen Luhmann
Das Problem, das sich im bisherigen Scheitern der Nachhaltigkeits-Agenda zeigt. Eine Hinführung

The sustainability agenda, as globally decided on in the 1990ies, is the answer on an elementary threat: to men by men. This „anthropogenic“ kind of threat has first been perceived in the case of nuclear weapons, the option of “overkilling” each other – the answer has been the nuclear arms-control agenda. In both cases, it led to a high degree of public interest there for several decades; but in effect, both agendas still lack a sustainable success. Mankind is still threatening itself.
The question is: How to respond today? It might be suggesting, to reiterate the approach which has been followed in the first cycle of attracting attention. I. e. an agenda of emphazising the threat, which is now in much more details analyzed with scientific means. This is a horrifying approach, which would be much more substantiated as in the first cycle. But such a repeated approach would lack the experience made with the failure so far. We are able to draw lessons from the failure. Here, the recommended approach for the second cycle is to focus on the design of a political concept, if it, as a concept, is capable of promising a sustainable success. The climate policy has been chosen as an example to illustrate this thesis in detail.

Katrin Bederna
Zukunftsverantwortung in Zeiten planetarer Grenzüberschreitungen

A central yet vague term in environmental communication is responsibility for the future. This is defined theoretically by Hans Jonas as the active care about the continuation of “real” human life, as the fact of an intergenerational link between humans gives reason for concern about the intrinsic value of nature.
In order to get our bearings at a time when we continuously overstep planetary boundaries this responsibility for the future needs to be specified, for example through the socio-ethical principal of sustainability: Sustainable is an action, way of life or economy that treats nature in such a way that anyone anywhere can repeat or share it at any point in time.
At the moment there is no lack of knowledge and understanding of what is morally required. There is however a lack of willingness to act accordingly. Here the Christian faith can step in with its future-oriented narratives, time-tested ways of sustainable living, rituals of confession and forgiveness, unconditional approval and the trust that no one has to bear the whole burden by themselves.

Markus Vogt
Worin besteht die Kompetenz der Theologie im Umweltdiskurs?

The churches and religious communities are confronted with high expectations regarding the promotion of a “great transformation” and a “cultural revolution” towards a sustainable society. Her specific competence will unfold only if they recognize the religious dimension of the ecological situation as a “sign of the times” and therefore as a challenge for a new idea of the position of man in nature. The environmental discourse is a “locus theologicus” on which today the Christian message of hope and the relation to God must prove.

Andreas Lob-Hüdepohl
„Nachhaltige Lebensstile“. Ethische Anmerkungen zu einem moralischen „Hochwerttopos“

German Bishops' Conference commission of social affairs presented to the public 10 theses on climate protection. Referring to the second papal encyclical Laudato si’, the theses requires a broad “cultural” and ”culture” change wherein practicing and promoting of “sustainable living” plays a central role – for individuals as well as for society as a whole. The article discusses the term “sustainable lifestyle” by its meaning and relevance from an ethical perspective. Lifestyles are on the one hand socio-cultural conveyed interpretive and action patterns, and on the other hand, they always stay accessible for a critical (self-)reflection. Transformation of lifestyle is not only an individual, but a social duty: the importance of consistent democratization (particularly at the international level) and a “boundary expanding solidarity” is underlined in this article. It is considered, that rich countries have to transform their present lifestyle for reasons of fairness. Their apparent (imperial) way of life is based on hiding the exploitation of human and natural resources. Furthermore, an “ecological and social transformative lifestyle” can be seen as a chance for a “sustainable quality of life”.


Julia Petersen/Kerstin Schlögl-Flierl
Plastikfasten – moraltheologische und sozialethische Anstöße

Plastic is either demonised or praised to the skies. This article focuses on the individual implementation of an area for sustainable development in the policy of small steps, but without forgetting the larger social ethical principles: Plastic fasting as the order of the day.


Michael Quisinsky
In(sub)kulturation und Ex(sub)kulturation. Grenzen und Ent-Grenzungen von Glaube und Pastoral in pluraler Gesellschaft

In diaspora Catholicism as well as in the post-majoritarian Catholicism the question about a new inculturation arises. In view of the differentiation of contemporary culture into diverse subcultures, a first step can be to understand ex-culturation as in-subculturation and in-culturation as ex-subculturation. Future steps of inculturation could build on it in the horizon of catholicity as dynamics of mutual de-limitation that realizes the sacramentality of the Church, i. e. its character as sign and instrument (see LG 1).