Title J.B. Metz's Critique of Religious Apathy
The purpose of this study is to offer a distinctive interpretation of the theology of Johann Baptist Metz, who is presently professor of fundamental theology at the University of Munster and the founder of European political theology. It argues that even though Metz's theology has undergone significant changes over the past thirty years, it is nevertheless best understood as a unified attempt to understand and to correct the causes of Christian apathy. At each stage of development, Metz focuses on the inordinant privatizing influence that Greek and modern consciousness has had, and continues to have, on Christian self-understanding and practice.
Previous interpretations have tended to discuss Metz exclusively in terms of his attempt to correct the ahistorical tendencies of scholastic and neo-scholastic theology, to develop a theology based on the priority of praxis over theory, and to develop a theological anthropology which is more socially concrete. In each case, what is missed is the deeper and more personal motivating impetus behind his theology: his desire to answer the question of why Christians remain apathetic in the face of suffering. This question arises out of his own personal experiences of Christian apathy in the face of past Holocaust suffering and present third-world suffering.
Furthermore, each fails to recognize how his theology is unified both in terms of intention and strategy. Throughout, his intention is to disengage Christianity from the apathy-producing effects of Greek and modern consciousness. To do so, he consistently distinguishes between the non-Christian types of consciousness in which Christians find themselves immersed (the form of thought), as well as the implicit certitudes about the human self and the world (the content of thought) which these produce. Each stage is therefore an attempt to understand, criticize, and offer alternatives to Christianity's captivity to non-Christian ways of being in the world which subvert the realization of the Gospel mandate of love and therefore produce apathy.
In this way, this dissertation hopes to contribute to a fuller understanding of Metz's theology. It argues that even though there are significant changes in strategy from one stage to the next, Metz's theology is a unified attempt to disengage Christianity from the negative influences of Greek and modern consciousness in order to give birth to a new socially critical, action-oriented, post-Auschwitz Christianity.