Raymund Schwager

The twentieth century produced various forms of political theology. These theological debates always involved, either directly or indirectly, a discussion of the fundamental category of sacrifice, which has played a central role in all traditional religions and societies. It also shaped the history of Christianity, which has interpreted Jesus' death on the cross mainly through this concept and has accordingly developed a deep spirituality of self-sacrifice. But the tradition of sacrifice has been called into question by Enlightenment thought, which, at its "normative core," aims directly at "abolishing the morality of the publicly imposed sacrificium," as Jürgen Habermas judges (Habermas 1998: 152). The experience of National Socialism, which persistently demanded the sacrifice of the individual for the service of the people, and modern depth psychology contributed further to rendering the religious idea of sacrifice deeply ambiguous and problematic, even in Christian circles. This was probably one of the reasons why early types of liberation theology appealed mainly to Jesus' basileia message of the impending kingdom of God, speaking hardly at all about his saving death. Eventually, within Christian theology massive criticism of the theme of sacrifice emerged, arguing that the patriarchal understanding of a God who demands the sacrifice of his son encourages atrocities, as it promotes the tendency of human beings to turn other human beings into victims (Strahm, ed., 1991). This new theology made its mark by speaking out for the victims of all kinds of oppression.

In the context of these and similar problems, Innsbruckian dramatic theology (Schwager 1999; Niewiadomski and Palaver 1992; Schwager, Niewiadomski, et al. 1996; Palaver, Guggenberger, et al. 1998) seeks to address the new questions without finding itself in opposition to tradition. It is marked by a criticism of sacrifice and violence, but does not reject talk of Christ's death as sacrifice. It rec

* Translated by Karl Möller.

ognizes the diversity of social situations and the plurality of modern culture, but intends to stand out against tendencies toward an unchecked pluralism and arbitrariness. It finds itself confronted by scientific-instrumental reason, which, in stark contrast to postmodern thought, makes a universal claim, believing, as a third culture (Brockman 1995), to be able to give answers even to the traditional philosophical and religious questions. In this pluriform context, dramatic theology seeks to do justice both to the concern for plurality and to the scientific claim of universality. For this reason, it distinguishes, in an allusion to traditional drama, five acts in Jesus' mission, each of which has its own characteristics but all of which are also clearly interconnected by means of their interaction, all exhibiting one coherent plot. Dramatic theology is interested not in the unity of a system but in the unity within a dramatic event, in which the connections derive not from logical conclusions but from decisions made by actors responding, positively or negatively, to other actors. Dramatic theology, therefore, does not shy away from aligning itself with the tradition of the great stories.

In what follows, I begin by sketching briefly the dramatic model before attending to some implications for a theological politics that stands out against conventional political theology (Rasmusson 1995).

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