Theodicy in a political key : God and suffering in the post-Shoah theology of Johann Baptist Metz / by Janice Allison Thompson
Includes bibliographical references (p. 244-259)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
Johann Baptist Metz addresses the situation “after Auschwitz” in terms of the theodicy question, transposed into a political key. But the connection Metz makes between responding to Auschwitz and focusing on the theodicy question is not an obvious connection, especially when many thinkers reject the possibility of theodicy after Auschwitz altogether. The purpose of this study is to examine and evaluate Metz's transposition of the theodicy question into a political key (Metz's “political theodicy”) and the way this theodicy organizes his political theology. Chapter 1 sketches the framework of the theodicy debate. First it surveys the classical theodicy of Augustine and in the different trajectories of Augustine's legacy. Then it examines the shift to modern theodicy in the German Enlightenment, as it was developed by Leibniz and by thinkers like Kant, Hegel, and Marx. Finally, it identifies the particular problems of post-Shoah theodicy. Chapter 2 provides an introduction to Metz's theology by examining the way his search for a better approach to history led him to begin to shift his theological framework towards a new political theology. Chapter 3 presents Metz's engagement with the theodicy question and the history of the Shoah. Although Metz first engaged the theodicy debate in discussion with Ernst Bloch, Metz's own unique approach to theodicy was catalyzed by his work drafting the document “Our Hope” for the West German Synod of Bishops. This chapter identifies “Our Hope” as the root of Metz's transposition of theodicy from its framework as an abstract argument about meaning into a mystical and political framework as the response of the “meaning community.” This transposition shapes Metz's focus on the church, on theological anthropology, and on his understanding of God and time. Chapter 4 evaluates Metz's focus on Auschwitz in light of three theologies focused on different paradigms of suffering, namely the theologies of Gustavo Gutiérrez, M. Shawn Copeland, and Jan-Heiner Tück. It finds weaknesses in Metz's theology and suggests ways these could be addressed. The chapter concludes, nevertheless, that Metz's focus on theodicy after Auschwitz is a distinctive and valuable contribution to theology today.
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