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Lecture: Philosophy of Religion in the Tradition of Christian Confessions

Master of Arts Ecumenical Studies, Modul LBC (Looking Beyond Christianity)

Wednesday, 10 - 12

Room: Main Building, Institut für Hermeneutik

Begin: 13. 10. 2010

Fides quaerens intellectum – Anselm of Canterbury’s well-known dictum reflects the rational approach to and philosophical mediation of Christian faith within the theological tradition. In modernity and under the conditions of the Enlightenment, it is the philosophy of religion which represents the attempt to justify religion rationally. Divergent perspectives on the philosophy of religion begin to appear even in early stages of the discipline, as one can see when comparing the work of, e.g., Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Each philosopher’s confessional background plays an important role in his perspective, but remarkable differences appear as well between figures who derive from the same ecclesial tradition. The Jesuit Karl Rahner demonstrates in transcendental-philosophical terms the human orientation towards a historical revelation of God – an idea which is rejected by the Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who opts in turn for an aesthetic approach which prohibits the construction of any preliminary conception of revelation. While the Protestant theologians Wolfhart Pannenberg and Jan Rohls, appreciating Hegel’s approach, insist on the importance of a philosophical mediation of theology and of rational criteria for religious truth, Karl Barth, Eberhard Jüngel and Ingolf U. Dalferth prefer a rational explication of faith beginning with faith itself. These latter figures reject philosophical pre-conceptions of divine revelation and eschew any attempt to develop exclusively rationalist epistemic criteria for evaluating religious claims. The lecture exposes and discusses the various approaches taken to the discipline of philosophy of religion reflects on the confessional and ecumenical background of each approach.