The role of the church

All types of liberation theology appeal to Jesus' message of the kingdom of God, but many distance themselves from the church, of which they expect but little, usually criticizing it quite systematically. The emphasis on the kingdom of God is entirely justified; but, from the perspective of dramatic theology, the distancing from the church rests on a misapprehension. The experiences of Israel's prophets, as well as Jesus' downfall, indicate quite clearly that ethical appeals and criticism of the status quo are not sufficient to achieve more justice and peace on earth. Not even Jesus' healing power was capable of overcoming the resistance, which is at home deep in the human heart and is related to the forces of lying and violence (Schwager 1997). Only the spirit of Pentecost, which is also the spirit through which Jesus sacrificed himself at the cross (Heb. 9: 14) and through which he was resurrected at Easter (Rom. 1: 4), can win over hearts from within and overcome evil. Yet this spirit leads to the church, creating a new community in the public sphere of our world. Thus a real alternative is introduced, which builds explicitly on God and nonviolence, and on the basis of which all other social and political structures have to be assessed anew.

Innsbruckian dramatic theology therefore welcomes theological approaches that grant political significance to the church as a public and institutional community (Milbank 1990; Milbank et al. 1999; Hauerwas 1995). Not only ethical efforts but God's work in history is what is ultimately decisive, and this work aims at the creation of a people, which can be concretely experienced in the church (Lohfink 1998). Thus a political theology, at a most fundamental level, needs a theology of the church. Yet, as there is much that is sinful at work in the church (cf. Rom. 7: 14-25), another question arises. This concerns the issue of whether the work of God is represented clearly in at least some activities of the church or whether, in the end, all remains ambiguous. Dramatic theology regards the basic structure of the liturgy and, especially, the Eucharist as the simultaneously real and symbolic representation of Jesus' drama, and thus as an enduring sign of unambiguity (Cavanaugh 1998). The liturgical celebration, time and again, reminds us of the one whom the builders (Jews and Gentiles) had rejected, but who has been made the cornerstone by God (cf. Mark 12: 10-11 par.). Thus the aim of Jesus' ministry and of God's work in him is each time anew made present and realized historically. On the other hand, the liturgy, which by itself is always in danger of succumbing to contemporary interests, is kept from being subverted by its central structure of commemoration.

0 0

Post a comment