Baptist Metz was a prolific writer and speaker. His essays are designed to provoke questions more than give answers. This page provides a starting point for new readers of his political theology. For more a more complete list of his work, visit the Works page.
Obituary in The New York Times. When Metz died in 2019, the Times published an obituary that accurately summarizes his political theology as well as highlighting the major events of his life. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/10/world/europe/johann-baptist-metz-dead.html
Obituary in America Magazine. Matthew Ashley’s obituary provides a thorough overview of Metz’s life and issues. https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2019/12/03/remembering-johann-baptist-metz.
“Facing the World: A Theological and Biographical Inquiry.” Translated by John K. Downey. Theological Studies 75.1 (2014): 23-33. Perhaps the best introduction to the central themes of his new political theology.
Poverty of Spirit. Translated by John Drury. Inclusive language version by Carole Farris. New York: Paulist Press, 1998. The challenging spirituality at the core of his thought.
“Messianic or Bourgeois Religion?” Translated by Francis McDonagh. An essay on the church’s obligations to intercede in human suffering rather than merely act as an observer. See below for his collection Faith and the Future: Essays on Theology, Solidarity and Modernity.
“1492: Through the Eyes of a European Theologian.” Calls into question the spirit of domination and suggests calibrating culture to focus on the suffering of others. Available in his collection Faith and the Future: Essays on Theology, Solidarity and Modernity.
Faith and the Future: Essays on Theology, Solidarity and Modernity. A collection of his pieces (and those of Jürgen Moltmann) from the journal Concilium. Edited with an introduction by Francis Schüssler Fiorenza. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1995.
A Passion for God: The Mystical-Political Dimension of Christianity. Translated and edited by J. Matthew Ashley. New York: Paulist Press, 1998. Many of these essays had not been previously translated. Ashley’s introduction provides useful background and an excellent bibliography of works in English.
Love’s Strategy: The Political Theology of Johann Baptist Metz. Edited by John K. Downey. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press, 1999. These earlier essays display the ground of his theology in our communities of memory and hope. The introduction is helpful.
Remembering and Resisting: The New Political Theology. Edited by John K. Downey. Essays and interviews from the period after his retirement. The central themes of his theology come forth in these later essays and reverberate in the interviews in a more direct and concise form.
“Only when our hope is inseparable from hope for others, only when it automatically assumes the form and motion of love and communion, does it cease to be petty and fearful, a hopeless reflection of egotism.”
— Johann Baptist Metz
Theology in Perilous Times: Johann Baptist Metz on his 90th Birthday
On the occasion of his 90th Birthday, various colleagues and former students were asked to write a note or a letter about one word or idea from Johann Baptist Metz that especially struck them. Contributions are in either German or English: Hans-Gerd Janßen, Julia D.E. Prinz, Michael J. Rainer, eds. Theologie in gefährdeter Zeit: Stichworte von nahen und fernen Weggefährten für Johann Baptist Metz zum 90. Geburtstag. Münster: Lit Verlag, 2018. These short pieces can give readers a sense of what other readers have found most striking, so here I offer a sample in translation.
- Jürgen Habermas: Letter to Johann Baptist Metz on his 90th Birthday
- Jon Sobrino: Political Theology and the Theology of Liberation
- Jürgen Manemann: The Anthropological Revolution
- John K. Downey: Theology Is a Culture of Questions
- David Tracy: Johann Baptist Metz: A Tribute