Saturday, October 10, 2015

Models of FW's Conceptualization of Trinity and Christology

There is a set of pairwise terms that Falk Wagner and his modern interpreters have used to discuss the inner-trinitarian and the christological situation with respect to an interpretation of modern religion guided by religious sociology.

FW himself had used

  • Transzendenz und Immanenz
  • Selbstsein und Anderssein
  • Personalität und Sozietät
to capture the structure of Christology. FW can even speak of "personaler Transzendenz und sozialer Immanenz". The point is always to retain the "Selbstzweck" of the individual in the face of the powerful social systems. In this context, FW dispenses with super-natural subjects and functionalizes them for the construction and build-out of the religious consciousness.

His interpreters accept the transcendent and immanent conceptualization, but propose to use instead pairs such as
  • Offenbarung und Geschichte
  • Glaube und Geschichte
  • Selbstverständnis und Selbstbild
  • Dogmatik und Historie
to capture the Christological structure. The argument goes that revelation and history replace the dual-nature problem in Christ for the Enlightenment theology, and under the impact of David Friedrich Strauss transform the revelation-aspect into the faith-aspect (Ritschl und Herrmann). 

This follows FW's lead in emphasizing the fact that only the individual's religiosity can be the proper subject of study in modern times. This allows to treat Christology as the theory of the symbolic representation in the self-relationship of the religious consciousness. Though nobody has written so, AFAIK, this meshes well with the Reformation notion of a "simul iustus et peccator", where the self-understanding is iustus while the self-image as historical is peccator

The drawback of that strategy is that it truncates the social aspect of the solution FW had sketched. Theology has no longer any contribution to make to the question of the Selbstzweck of the individual, or has to do so using a completely different road.

For the point of departure with FW is that the realization of the self in ignorance of the other is the definition of sin. FW's criticism vis-a-vis Barth is that it cannot be sin if mankind does it but the height of divine majesty if God does it, and that is why the correspondence of self and other in its reflexive logic of acceptance (Anerkennungslogik) has to be placed at the core of the trinitarian description. 

From this point of view, the self-understanding of the religious consciousness is a reduction that leaves quite a bit of the productivity of the FW approach by the wayside.

PS: In this context, FW's critics claim the "Zugangsproblem" that dogmatics and empirical sociology of religion can both only provide the services of "deuten und konstruieren" for the empirical religion as lived. However, the difference that FW seems to be after is the distinction between normative and descriptive, as in linguistics; and to the extent that dogmatic theology is willing to be descriptive only, it has effectively traded places with a sociology of religion that proceeds in an empirical fashion. At least a juxtaposition of the shape "Dogmatik und Historie" does not lend credence to that tack, however.