Systematic Theology: Reconciliation, Pneumatology, Ethics

We are open to new issues that emerge in the extended context of the ecumenical movement. Of central interest in our current systematic-theological activities are pneumatology, reconciliation, ecumenical ethics of peace and Christian communitarian ethics. The field of systematic theology is, through its contextual-theological approach, closely connected to our research in sociology of religion. Thus, in this section we will also outline some projects from other fields in view of their relevance for theology.

  1. Contextual Pneumatology
    Christian theology, in particular Protestant, has produced, through a strong focus on Christology and ecclesiology, structures of credibility that are primarily directed to the own religious reproduction. This is due not only to the perspective of theological production: from “the inside” of theology and the church to “the outside” of society and the environment. A “theology of the third article” facilitates a completely different approach. Beginning with the universalistic and cosmological formulations of the Old Testament, theological reflexion can begin with the presence of the spirit in nature and culture and refer directly to the first article. Christology thus comes into play with its full critical weight, even on church practices. Because of its fundamental openness for social circumstances, such a pneumatology offers specific opportunities for interreligious dialogue as well as for religious didactics. This project was developed in the context of courses at the Universidad Biblica Latinoamericana in San José, Costa Rica, and is going to be concluded with a monograph.
  2. Researchers: Heinrich Schäfer


    Schäfer: „Geisterfahrung und Geist-Theologie“. In: Glaube und Lernen. Themenheft ‚Geisterfahrung‘, 2011, 2.

    Schäfer: Pneumatología y eclesiología (Niveau Bach.). San José: UBL, 1999/2003 (zweite Auflage). (Pneumatologie und Ekklesiologie)

    Schäfer: „El Espíritu de la creación, la iglesia y la persona: algunas reflexiones acerca de Romanos 8.“ In: Vida y Pensamiento (San José, Costa Rica: Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana) Vol. 19, 1999, Nr. 1, S. 5-36. (Der Geist der Schöpfung, die Kirche und die Person: einige Reflexionen über Römer 8) [Download PDF]

    Schäfer / Dietrich Werner: „„Wo der Geist des Herrn ist, da ist Freiheit´ (2. Kor. 3,17). Ökumenische Überlegungen zur charismatischen Bewegung - Eine Einladung zum Gespräch.“ In: Pastoraltheologie. 82. Jg., 1993, H. 7, S. 298-318

  3. Methodological-Communitarian Ethics of Peace
    In the so-called “new wars”, non-governmental actors (e.g. warlords) and strategies of identity conflict are playing an ever greater role. Simultaneously, non-governmental actors (e.g. NGOs) are becoming ever more important in conflict mediation. In view of this situation, theological ethics, and particularly Protestant ethics, find themselves in a dilemma, caught between the Christian ethics of command and Kantian universalism. The former operates with norms for Christian “in-groups”; the latter under omission of concrete contexts. The practical development of strategies of conflict transformation with the participation of civil society – so-called “peace constituencies” – open new directions for ethical reflexivity. A “methodological communitarianism” can tie into the specific operational opportunities that arise out of the cooperation of local and global peacemakers.

    This project takes up the specific tasks in ethics that arise from the description and interpretation of local, habitually-anchored morals and their transmission with the principle-oriented, universalistic approaches of global actors. The goal is thus to formulate an approach of ethical reflexion which describes a viable system of ethics for the simultaneously global and local (Robertson: “glocal”) operating level of conflict mediators. Theologically, specifically Christian transmission opportunities should be named in this process. The project reflects on the results of the empirical research on religion, conflict and peace and thus progresses at a similar pace.
  4. Researchers: Schäfer, Seibert


    Schäfer (editor): Kreativität – Selbsttranszendenz – Gewalt. Preisträgerkolloquium des Bielefelder Wissenschaftspreises für Hans Joas. Frankfurt: Campus, 2012. (Spring, forthcoming)

    Schäfer: „Capabilities – from a relationist viewpoint.“ In: Hans-Uwe Otto, Holger Ziegler (ed.): Closing the Capabilities Gap - Renegotiating social justice for the young. Opladen: Verlag Barbara Budrich 2010: 127-143.

    Schäfer: „‚We gonna bin laden them!’ Überlegungen zu einer methodologisch-kommunitaristischen Friedensethik”. In: Zeitschrift für evangelische Ethik, 51. Jg., 2007, Nr. 3, S. 169-181. [Download PDF]

    Schäfer: „’Und weil der Mensch ein Mensch ist...’ Interkulturelle Ethik, religiöse Identität und Konflikt.“ In: Sicherheit und Frieden 22, 2004, Heft 3, S. 139 146. [Download PDF]

    Schäfer: „Globalisierung und topische Ethik. Zur interkulturellen Plausibilisierung universaler Humanität.“ (Habilitationsvorlesung) In: Heinrich Schäfer: Praxis Theologie Religion. Frankfurt: Lembeck 2004, S. 369-402 (als Anhang).

    Schäfer: „Neue Kriege als Herausforderung an lutherische Ethik.“ In: Wolfgang Vögele/Christina Kayales (Hg.): Versöhnung und Gewalt. Loccumer Protokoll Nr. 65/02, Rehburg Loccum 2003, S. 7-19. [Download PDF]

    Schäfer: „New wars and identity-politics.“ In: Julio de Santa Ana (Hg.): Religions today. Their challenge to the Ecumenical Movement. Geneva: WCC, 2005, S. 89-104 (final report of the Bossey/World Council of Churches research group on The current situation of religious life and its challenges to the Ecumenical Movement).

Theological Projects in the research field “Religion, Conflict, Peace”:

  1. Theology of Reconciliation:
    Since time immemorial, theological theory of atonement (and reconciliation) has been concerned with the question of how mankind’s atonement with God stands in relation to mankind’s reconciliation with itself. This doctoral study approaches this question hermeneutically. On the one hand, it draws on the results of the research project on Bosnian peacemakers; on the other, it processes the experiences from conflict mediation in schools. Using these experiential results and in dialogue with the theological history of atonement theory, the currently relevant, systematic-theological issues will be drawn out and theologically processed. The goal of the study is to formulate the basic principles of a modern, experience-related, Christian atonement theory.
  2. Researcher: Axel Stockmeier

  3. Ecumenical Christian Churches in Conflicts:
    Many of the member churches of the World Council of Churches are directly affected by political, ethnic and military conflicts. The ecumenical movement as a federation of churches can be understood not least as the churches’ reaction to the conflict experiences of the First and Second World Wars. Corresponding collective experience is called for today in very differing conflictive contexts and will continue to be transformed. This project combines historical research into the conflict-related strategies of the ecumenical movement with case studies on their engagement in current conflicts such as in Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Serbia/Bosnia and South Africa. The goal of the project is to describe religious peace strategies and to reflect theologically on reconciliation processes as collective processes of psychological healing.
  4. Researcher: Priv. Doz. Dr. Gert Rüppell