Saturday, April 12, 2014

Michael Murrmann-Kahl on Falk Wagner's Tillich Interpretation


Falk Wagner had tackled the Tillich Problem in his Munich Antrittsvorlesung of 1972 (= Absolute Positivität: Das Grundthema der Theologie Paul Tillichs), which is both an interpretative key for Tillich as well as for Falk Wagner. Both share a basic impulse to construct a cultural theology based on the notion of spirit.

FW felt close to Paul Tillich and he wants to give the key to the interpretation. Apparently there is a basic structure to Tillich's theology, and FW wants to present it. There is an asymmetric relation between the Unbedingt and Bedingt; there is not absolute form that can exhaust the contents of the independent. Tillich argued that theology cannot be a sister of Culture, but must be embedded into Culture. Tillich's idea of Sense and Autonomy is one that is final and wont turn itself infinite; theonomy is saving the individual from this. FW applies this matrix as modern cultural theology, and gets the pneumatology into the focus, because that is where relationships and society come in. The constitution of the self-reflexivity requires an absolute external. Tillich is trying to overcome the self-reflexive aporetic situation, because the self cannot presuppose itself for the explication. This explains the focus on the alienation, which tackles the self-setting of the self-constitution. Jesus as the New Being is a self-reflexive consciousness is capable of transcending the finality.

Tillich receives no criticism of Falk Wagner, which means that FW agrees. But 1.5 years later in the Religionsbuch tackles FW the intended divine ground as being independent of the dependent. However, all talk about the independent takes its departure from the human; and this tries Tillich to escape by focusing on the ontology. But the start from the independent can only succeed, if the infinite contents and final forms can be held. FW agrees with the start from independent, but sees Tillich accepting a unfounded focus on the ontological prior. The religious consciousness talks about the independence, but that does not constitute it. Religion is a transcending of the other cultural systems, but the ontological problem means that FW cannot follow Tillich here. The premise is never shown to be the case. FW felt that his work up to 1988, with its trinity conception, supported a better premise, even if the pneumatological work-out agrees. Here, FW puts out his Hegel against Tillich's Schlegel.

FW later tackles the problem of Tillich's creation theory, if sin and freedom coincide. Creation and Christological foundations to social ethics are impossible, as Tillich showed. Since the ground of being must be subjected to humanity, Jesus of Nazareth expresses in the Christ to the negotiated freedom that replaces the Titanic freedom of God vs Man. FW then agrees with Tillich, that the Christological freedom reconstitutes it for humanity. Religion cannot become a separate sphere; religion is rather supposed to be inside of moral and ethics, which checks the absolutism of human cultural shapes and efforts. FW interprets Tillich's pneumatology as working in the world. But Tillich cannot differentiate between successful versus unsuccessful cultural actions.

Now looking from Tillich at FW, there is the question of whether FW's approach is sufficient. To propose the theme for someone like Tillich who kept reworking his terms seems impossible; thus FW's approach is more friendly than the present can be. The increase of sources shows this even more (and were not available to FW). FW's Tillich interpretation requires the aporetic of the self-explication of the self-referential consciousness in the tradition of Fichte. Gunter Wenz for example denied such a connection. And Dieter Henrich's paper on Fichte on which FW based his work has been followed little since then. Thus, whether Fichte & Henrich can help explain Tillich must remain open.

Tillich's theory of sense is replaced by a logical-categorical speculations of Hegel. But this system of logic became questionable to FW during his Viennese time, and that torpedoes the Tillich criticism, and maybe the intention of the sense can be reconstituted.

Culture must transcend itself, and needs an internal criterium to separate the successful from unsuccessful cultural constructions.

Tillich's historical changes are lost under the FW reconstruction.

What are models where FW's or Tillich's can take place? Tillich has the model of a kairos-motivated avant garde. Wagner wants the model of the Protestant academy, where the reflexion of individuality and society can be done. In consequence, they want the special religious sphere of morale and ethics to go away. A realization of Christian religion without the churches seem impossible, thought, as the EKD Study #5 indicates. The walk outside the church skips the problem that religious communication needs to have its own place, in order to be applicable in non-Church contexts.


  • The fracturing of God into the three reasons--pure, practical and judgement--repeats with Habermas due to the criticism of the dialectic of Enlightenment, that the three reasons are no longer combinable.
  • Tillich's global theory of religion means that it cuts across all the transcendentials.
  • Ansbacher Anschlag and God using the NSDAP to pursue their purpose
  • Tillichs Ergriffensein vom Unbedingten is both wide to be applicable across the differentiated systems, but is not specific enough to distinguish success from failure. Just transcendending cannot be qualified.
  • Tillich in 1932 (right after the Preussenschlag) argues strictly against NSDAP for the mythology of foundation and blood & soil and the use of force. Unfortunately Tillich leaves the blood & soil rooted. Thus he calls the democracy of Weimar a pseudo-democracy. He wants mythology to be fractured, but not eliminated, by the prophetic stance. The Dresden kairos term could have been used to sort out the NSDAP reaction because the Christus as central point of history; the prophetic principle by itself could have also been utilized in this context.


Michael Murrmann-Kahl, Falk Wagners Tillich-Interpretation als Schlüssel zum Verständnis seines Werks.

  • Falk Wagner, Metamorphosen des Protestantismus (1999).

No comments:

Post a Comment