Soelle: Against the Wind, p. 36

Dorothee Soelle, Against The Wind:  Memoir of a Radical Christian


“My theological fathers, like Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann, still spend much time and energy working in local congregations, attending ministers’ conferences, or answering letters of irate pastors. They were there for the church, whereas the partners of today’s theological masters are other academics, for example, in the fields of natural science. Their theology is done in the form of consultation at the summit level: groups like the women doing South African solidarity work have no place there.  I continue to be drawn to the church as a community of solidarity, faith, and struggle. In many ways, I regard theology’s sidling up to the sciences as a counterproductive step.  In the face of what really goes on in the world, what are the brightest minds of West German theology doing in long debates about how scientific theology can or should be? They are making use of the sharpest, finest knives they can find to split hairs as thinly as they can.

“This phenomenon becomes apparent to me in answering the questions: What issues do I have in mind when I occupy myself with the Bible) What is important for me and why do I do this? Luise Scholtroff once toId me how, at the end of the ’70s, during a meeting of one of the more illustrious scholarly societies, she proposed the study of poverty in the New Testament. There was only embarrassed silence, because no younger scholars in New Testament studies wanted to jeopardize their academic future with that kind of topic, particularly in Germany. Even though this subject is present on every page of the New Testament, one knows only too well that making poverty the subject of scholarly study may lead to unpleasant consequences.

“Although it needs aspects of science, theology is much ml)re akin to praxis, poetry, and art than to science. For centuries the better theologians were more artist than scientist. I think of Michelangelo’s portrayal of Adam in his depiction of creation in the Sistine Chapel and how, being touched by God, Adam awakens to life. Eve is already placed near God, in God’s embrace. Theologically more interesting authors like Gottfried Lessing, Johann Georg Hamann, Blaise Pascal, and Franz Kafka tend to make use of language in a different way. That is the kind of theology I have in mind when I imagine a theological kingdom of God, although I assume that in such a kingdom there is no need of theology.”           p. 36


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