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Title: Freiheit als Prinzip Theologischer Hermeneutik
Subtitle: Freedom - The Philosophical Principle of Theological Hermeutics
Author(s): PRÖPPER, Thomas
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 59    Issue: 1   Date: 1998   
Pages: 20-40
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.59.1.2002369

Abstract :
This paper has been conceived as a programmatic sketch. It makes a decisive plea for the theological appropriation of the transcendental thinking-through of Freedom. It is further guided by the insight that the choice of this form of thinking is not only philosophically justified, but over and above that is also capable of adhering to the specific demands made on theology by the determination of the truth it exemplifies. The content of this truth is to be systematically explicated and its meaning is to be thematized in the present context: that is the task of dogmatics.
As a primary implication of this understanding of dogmatics it is appropriate to view this reflexive task as having an elliptical double-poled structure. With reference to the first pole, the paper develops the following: The fundamental thesis which directs this dogmatic concept defines the Self-Revelation of God in the history of Jesus as the foundational truth of Christian theology. The thesis contains the insight that the essential meaning of Jesus’ history is grasped only in so far as it is understood as being the manifestation of God’s unconditional love of humanity and soas God’s Self-Revelation. This basisstatement fulfills a systematic function in so far as the history of Jesus, understood as the Self-Revelation of God, must be accepted as the founding datum of Christian faith and so also as the foundational truth of Christian theology. This systematic function consists in two aspects: firstly, as an index for the identity of Christian theology; secondly, as the determining theological principle of all dogmatic statements. In other words, the history of Jesus, acknowledged as God’s Self-Revelation, is the truth which grounds myriad specific theological statements, which functions as their definitive theological justification, which continues to represent the standard by which they are to bejudged and which likewise unites them to a single discipline (dogmatics). With regard to the secondpole: As some particular form of thought is needed for the job of explication and mediation of the foundational truth, the urgent question arises as to which form of thought is the appropriate one.
The second thesis is that a transcendental-philosophy of Freedom is the only candidate for the task. That is the case because, although Freedom cannot be used as a metaphysical principle of explanation of reality, it must nevertheless be accepted as an unconditional instance, an instance whose verdict thought, as long as it intends to be humane, must allow itself and its content to be informed and thus determined by. In that sense, i.e., as the second determining principle vis-à-vis the explication and mediation of the truth of faith, Freedom is the philosophical principle of theological hermeneutics. The principle form of thought which informs this theological concept can be described as a transcendental meditation of Freedom, a type of thinking which is rooted in the philosphical tradition beginning with Kant and Fichte and represented today, among others, by Hermann Krings. It analyses Freedom by means of a reductive-transcendental procedure so that it does not injure Freedom’s spontaneity and it attempts to think Freedom as the unconditional condition without which specific humane constellations such as morality, communication, law, etc, but also the reflective activity of reason itself, couldn’t be conceived as possible. This thinking-through of Freedom, which is here recommended to theology, meets the criteria which themselves can claim validity for philosophical reason. This approach is commended principally because it doesn’t fall below the high intellectual level reached by modernity’s constant self-reflection and it thereby does justice to the basic concern of reason, namely to push questioning to the point of insight into an Unconditional (Absolute). This insight is where the supreme fundamental-theological relevance of this thinking-through of Freedom becomes apparent: to do theology without recourse to an Unconditional, itself the condition of the possibility of being human, would mean failing to make clear the ultimate meaning for every person of God’s Self-Revelation; but not only that, it would mean destroying the possibility of defining the idea of God through autonomous insight. It is the thesis of the paper, that this transcendental meditation of Freedom is the form of thought which meets the demands of theological hermeneutics.

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