Day: May 16, 2009

beyond liberal and post-liberal ethics

I’m starting to get really excited by the possibilities opened up in Bernd Wannenwetsch’s book Political Theology: Ethics for Christian Citizens.


In the ‘Introduction’, Wannenwetsch signals his desire to press beyond the typical either-or: either a liberalism that claims to be (impossibly) formal, rational and universal; or a communitarian ‘household ethic’ that swears off universality and puts at its heart particular, historical, specifically church-based concerns instead.

It’s obviously easy enough to want to avoid these traps — it’s harder to actually do so. But his proposal of an ‘ethic springing from worship’ seems promising (p 2):

My point in proposing an ‘ethic springing from worship’ instead of a ‘church’ ethics is that the Church does not have itself at its own disposal, in a sense which would permit it to deduce anything from that fact — not even an ethic.  According to the central article of the Augsburg Confession (Article V), the Church cannot claim to be an institution directly founded by God. What are established in this sense (institutum est) are specific practices: the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the sacraments. The Church can be understood as a divine institution only as it finds itself practising the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the sacraments in the proper way (recte) — that is, in the promise of the Spirit.

More as I progress…