Political theology and reading the signs of the times

Erik Peterson deserves the last word. Part of Peterson's argument against the possibility of any Christian political theology had rested on St. Augustine's stripping of the sacral patina given to the Roman Empire by Christian apologists such as Eusebius of Caesarea. In Politische Theologie II Schmitt objected to this argument because it seemed to deny Christian laypeople the right to see the hand of God in their political well-being: "A church does not consist only of theologians" (Schmitt 1970: 77). With mordant pleasure he pointed to the euphoria of Angelo Roncalli (the future John XXIII!) over the signing of the 1929 Lateran Treaties between the Vatican and Mussolini's government, as a modern example of a Catholic rejoicing at seeing God at work in the world. Schmitt singled out for attack Peterson's invocation of De Civitate Dei 3. 30, in which Augustine scorned Cicero for mistakenly placing his bets on Octavian, the future dictator: said Augustine, Cicero was "blind and reckless about what was to come" (caecus atque improvidus futurorum) (Peterson 1951: 90). Inappropriate after-the-fact moralizing, sniffed Schmitt. How could Cicero have known, and what choices did he really have, caught between Antony and Caesar's nephew? (Schmitt 1970: 90-1). In a letter to Schmitt written long afterwords, Jacob Taubes defended the justice and the wisdom of Peterson's words from 1935: "That caecus atque improvidus futurorum was a coded warning directed at you - but you didn't get it. You had no better friend than Peterson, whom you also brought on the path to the Church. 'True are the wounds that a friend's arrow makes,' says the Psalmist somewhere" (Taubes 1987: 40).

References and Further Reading

Balakrishnan, Gopal (2000). The Enemy: An Intellectual Portrait of Carl Schmitt. London and New York: Verso.

Bendersky, Joseph W. (1983). Carl Schmitt: Theorist for the Reich. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Böckenförde, Ernst-Wolfgang (1961). "Der deutsche Katholizismus im Jahre 1933. Eine kritische Betrachtung." Hochland 53, 14-39.

Dahlheimer, Manfred (1998). Carl Schmitt und der deutsche Katholizismus 1888-1936. Paderborn, Munich, Vienna and Zurich: Ferdinand Schöningh.

Faber, Richard (1994). "Carl Schmitt, der Römer." In Wacker (1994b), 257-78.

Gebhardt, Winfried (1995). "Schmitt, Carl." In Biographisch-bibliographisches KirchenLexikon, cols. 486-96. Herzberg: Verlag Traugott Bautz. (Consulted online at http://www.bautz.de/bbkl/s7s1/schmitt_c.shtml.)

Gross, Raphael (2000). Carl Schmitt und die Juden. Eine deutsche Rechtslehre. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Huber, Ernst (1988). "Carl Schmitt in der Reichskrise der Weimarer Endzeit." In Quar-itsch (1988), 33-50.

Hürten, Heinz (1972). Waldemar Gurian. Mainz: Matthias Grünewald.

Koenen, Andreas (1995). Der Fall Carl Schmitt. Sein Aufstieg zum Kronjuristen des Dritten Reiches. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Lauermann, Manfred (1994). "Carl Schmitt - jenseits biographischer Mode." In Wacker (1994b), 295-319.

Lönne, Karl-Egon (1994). "Carl Schmitt und der Katholizismus der Weimarer Republik." In Wacker (1994b), 11-35.

McCormick, John (1997). Carl Schmitt's Critique of Liberalism: Against Politics as Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mehring, Reinhard (1993). "Vom Umgang mit Carl Schmitt: Zur neueren Literatur." Geschichte und Gesellschaft 19, 388-407.

Meier, Heinrich (1991). "Der Philosoph als Feind - zu Carl Schmitts Glossarium." Typescript of article published in altered form in Der Spiegel 31 (1991), 168-72.

-(1995). Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue, trans. J. Harvey Lomax.

Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

-(1998). The Lesson of Carl Schmitt: Four Chapters on the Distinction between Political

Theology and Political Philosophy, trans. Marcus Brainard. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Nichtweiß, Barbara (1992). Erik Peterson. Neue Sicht auf Leben und Werk. Freiburg, Basel and Vienna: Herder.

-(1994). 'Apokalyptische Verfassungslehren. Carl Schmitt im Horizont der Theologie Erik Petersons." In Wacker (1994b), 37-64.

Noack, Paul (1993). Carl Schmitt: Eine Biographie. Berlin: Propyläen.

Peterson, Erik (1951). "Monotheismus als politisches Problem: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der politischen Theologie im Imperium Romanum." In Theologische Traktate, 45-147. Munich: Kösel.

Quaritsch, Helmut, ed. (1988). Complexio Oppositorum. Über Carl Schmitt. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

Ruster, Thomas (1994). Die verlorene Nützlichkeit der Religion. Katholizismus und Moderne in der Weimarer Republik. Paderborn, Munich, Vienna and Zurich: Ferdinand Schöningh.

Schmitt, Carl (1950). Ex Captivitate Salus: Erfahrungen der Zeit 1945-47. Cologne: Greven.

-(1970). Politische Theologie II: Die Legende von der Erledigung jeder Politischen Theologie. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

-(1985). Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. and intr.

George Schwab. Cambridge, Mass., and London: MIT Press.

-(1988). The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. and intr. Ellen Kennedy. Cambridge, Mass., and London: MIT Press.

-(1991). Glossarium. Aufzeichnungen der Jahre 1947-1951, ed. Eberhard Freiherr von

Medem. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

-(1996a). The Concept of the Political, trans. and intr. George Schwab, foreword Tracy

B. Strong. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

-(1996b). The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes: Meaning and Failure of a Political Symbol. Foreword and intr. George Schwab, trans. George Schwab and Erna Hilfstein. Westport, Conn., and London: Greenwood.

-(1996c). Roman Catholicism and Political Form, trans. and intr. Gary Ulmen. Westport, Conn., and London: Greenwood.

Scholder, Klaus (1988). The Churches and the Third Reich, 2 vols., trans. John Bowden. Philadelphia: Fortress.

Schwab, George (1989). The Challenge of the Exception: An Introduction to the Political Ideas of Carl Schmitt from 1921 to 1936, 2nd edn. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood.

Seubert, Harald (2002). "Eigene Fragen als Gestalt. Zu neuerer Literatur zu Carl Schmitt." http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/7501/ph/hs/e1.html.

Taubes, Jakob (1987). Ad Carl Schmitt. Gegenstrebige Fügung. Berlin: Merve.

Tommissen, Piet (1988). "Bausteine zu einer wissenschaftlichen Biographie (Periode: 1888-1933)." In Quaritsch (1988), 71-100.

Wacker, Bernd (1994a). "Carl Schmitts Katholizismus und die katholische Theologie nach 1945." In Wacker (1994b), 279-94.

-, ed. (1994b). Die eigentlich katholische Verschärfung. . . : Konfession, Theologie und

Politik im Werk Carl Schmitts. Munich: Wilhelm Fink.

-(1994c). "Die Zweideutigkeit der katholischen Verschärfung - Carl Schmitt und

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