Born in Germany in the 1920s, Johann Baptist Metz is among the most influential Catholic theologians of our time. As Professor of Fundamental Theology at the University of Münster until 1993 he introduced a brand of theology that speaks to the threatened future of humankind with a biblically sharpened view of the world.
His “new political theology” is an “attempt to speak of God facing the world.” A theology of the real world will be a theology that at its intellectual root sees the history of human suffering in that world.
Informed by the events of the Holocaust, his thought-provoking questions and analyses place compassion in the foreground, challenging the church to connect with the suffering of others. They wake us up.
“The shortest definition of religion: interruption.”
“Prayer is really an act of opposition.”
“If the Church were more radical in the Gospel sense, it would probably not need to be so ‘rigorous’ in the legal sense.”
“Those who pray are not alone; they form part of a great historical company; prayer is a matter of historical solidarity.”
“In no way do I now want to join those who claim to have overcome the Enlightenment without having passed through it.”
“Compassion is not only for our private lives but also for our public, political lives.”
“The sickness unto death of religion is not naiveté, but banality.”
“The lightning bolt of danger lights up the whole biblical landscape, especially the New Testament scene.”
What is Political Theology?
Although a variety of thinkers work in the realm of political theology, Metz means something very specific by the term. The new political theology is a transformative engagement with the world. In the cries of the suffering we have an additional intellectual criterion for theological reasoning.
Metz’s career spanned six decades. Find out more about the concepts that resurface throughout his work. Learn how he developed concepts like dangerous memories and memoria passionis by linking them with the real world.
Metz’s experiences in World War II and the post-war period sculpted much of his work. Uncover how Metz’s struggle with the Holocaust laid the foundation for a theology that puts human action at the foreground of conversations about God.
Although Metz’s body of work is expansive, certain pieces highlight his message especially well. Explore a sampling of texts that provide insight into Metz’s political theology.