Lecture and seminar on the subject “Political Theology in a post-modern context” with Stephan van Erp, November 11th, 2015

Guest lecture

Stephan van Erp gave a speech on Edward Schillebecckx (1914-2009) in the context of the lecture “Offenbarung und Geschichte/Revelation and History”. The first part was dedicated to the introduction of Schillebecckx, the second to the question of hermeneutics.

Schillebecckx, who influenced the Second Vatican Council as counsellor and who was cofounder of the review “Concilium”, also received Critical Theory and hermeneutic philosophy besides Nouvelle Théologie. His innovative Theology is supposed to represent the movement from metaphysics to existence. In his opinion, Theology needs the dynamics of history and cannot act upon the assumption of the unifying force of metaphysics anymore. Schillebecckx reflects the meaning of hermeneutics for faith repeatedly in his work, the question of the continuity of interpretation being essential to him in this context. According to him interpretation is not simply contained in the message, but can only appear in the correlation of message and context.

Stephan van Erp succeeded in presenting the theology of one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, who is unfortunately not widely studied in the German speaking regions, in a very lively manner.




The lecture started with the phenomenon of the new shift of the church towards the domain of the political that has taken place over the last 100 years, akin to the beginning of the history of Christianity – the epistles of Peter and Paul serving as evidence here. Today's theology understands the world as the location of the church and rediscovers it as locus theologicus. Fundamental Theology has long been understood as an epistemology of nature that opposed God's forgiveness to the secular domain of the sinful man.

By contrast, Theology has to carry out a description of the world as revelation today that preserves alterity and otherness as decisive moments. In doing so, it should not neglect to depict the world not only as the site of God's presence, but also as a site of suffering and loss.

Against this background van Erp demands to understand the sacramental community as one of universal, shared and reciprocal dependency. In that sense the sacrament lies in the heart of citizenship, in so far as it means to create a space for the other.


It is thus a community of hospitality and trust which should be aspired to and which is not to be interpreted as the sign of a coming, otherworldly kingdom of God, but as one that can be experienced presently in a community.