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Faith in History and Society
Faith in History and Society
Toward a Practical Fundamental Theology
This now classic book presented on the 30th anniversary of its first appearance is universally acknowledged as the great classic of Metz's remarkable career, and indeed of all political theology. It is presented here in a new translation with an extensive study guide for readers and teachers.
Since its first appearance in 1977, this book continues to be the single most important text for understanding the theology of Johann Baptist Metz, one of the founders of the “new political theology.” Metz’s thesis is that the crisis that Christianity faces “is not primarily a crisis of its message, but rather a crisis of its subjects and institutions, which have pulled back all too far from the inevitable practical meaning of its message and in so doing have undercut its intelligible power.” In response to this problem he offers a definition of a practical fundamental theology and, in the second part of the book, tests it against a number of issues in Christology, ecclesiology, and fundamental theology. In the third and concluding section the book devotes a chapter each to the three basic categories of the new political theology: memory, narrative, and solidarity. It is in recalling the dangerous memory of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection, telling and retelling the dangerous stories of Jesus and those who follow him, and exercising a mystical-political discipleship of solidarity with those who don’t count in our progressive, technology societies (including a solidarity of memory with the dead) that Christianity can recover its political voice without becoming simply a religious paraphrase of political and social processes.
Reviews and endorsements
“Readers of Johann Metz’s Faith in History and Society will have no difficulty understanding the impact of his ‘political theology.’ His efforts to work out a ‘practical fundamental theology’ oriented to ‘social praxis’ are bound to prove fruitful for all who are concerned with the basic questions of contemporary Christian reflection.”
—Schubert M. Ogden, Southern Methodist University
“Finally we have a fundamental theology in which the spiritual and social challenge of our time is taken up and transformed in a new praxis of Christianity and theology.”
—Karl Rahner, Munich
“Faith in History and Society is the most important statement to date of the meaning of political theology! Metz’s major themes—praxis, apocalyptic narrative, and the memory of suffering—are here related and developed into a genuinely new and stunning political theology.”
—David Tracy, The Divinity School, The University of Chicago
“This book raises the central issue of how theology should understand the role of the Gospel and church traditions in promoting the freedom and development of all human beings. The question is not whether any theology is political but how. Every theology — whether fundamentalist or mainline, conservative or liberal, Protestant or Catholic — cannot avoid reflecting the political and economic involvements of the churches. Will theology, then, pretend indifference and run the risk of allowing the Gospel to be deformed by those politics and economics, or will theology, as Metz begins to do, elaborate critical categories capable of bringing the power of the Gospel to the task of humanizing our politics and economics?”
—Matthew L. Lamb, Marquette University