Department of Systematic Theology / Center for Intercultural Theology and Study of Religions

Intercultural Theology and Study of Religions was introduced as a new discipline at the Faculty of Catholic Theology in the latest curriculum. Being defined as fundamentally interdisciplinary in teaching and research, it is more than just a new segment of theology. It refers to a changed socio-political context, which is to be apprehended not only through a dissociated description of phenomena, but by seeking out the places where people are struggling for recognition, dignity and respect. These signs of our times call for our commitment:
(1) to a theological opening up to the challenge of the cultural and religious other, 
(2) to making the cultural and religious differences a valued innovation for one’s own discourse, and 
(3) to take up a problem-oriented focus.

 
The intercultural and interreligious discourse pertains to the plurality of cultures within and beyond Christianity on the one hand, and to the plurality of religions on the other hand. The Second Vatican Council has provided crucial prerequisites for both of these discourses by comprehending the faith of the Church in the polarity (a.) of Pastoral and Dogmatic, (b.) of local church and universal church, and (c.) of Christianity and other religions. 
In that sense, this new discipline of Intercultural Theology is situated in the difference between local and universal church. It expresses a structural attribute of Christianity which has always been characterized by mutual processes of transformation between culture and the gospel. Nevertheless, it was only recently that explicit contextual theologies evolved. Intercultural Theology reflects both the theories of these contextual theologies and the changes issuing from them towards the way of practicing theology. 

Intercultural Theology stands at the intersection between the inner and the outer, in the area of tension between the identity of the gospel and the plurality of cultures. Its subject is the cultural anchoring of every theology. Therefore, cultural analysis and an understanding of foreign and close cultures play an important part. Here it is impossible to occupy a neutral point of observation. Non-European theologies are penetrating the core of European theology, bringing up the issue of its own contextuality. Recontextualization research opens up a new concept of tradition. Processes of majorization and marginalization, the consequences of mission history and colonization, can be attended to. The adverbial syntax of the German name “Theologie interkulturell” underlines interculturality as the form of all theology.  

With the term “Study of Religions (Studium der Religionen) we assume that religions can neither be subsumed under a concept of culture, nor can their study be methodologically limited to the “scientific study of religion” (Religionswissenschaft). More over, there are good reasons for dealing with religions out of theological interest. The pressing character of the religions for theology will be intensified. Christianity is unthinkable without Israel, and again God is unthinkable without His universal will to salvation. The Second Vatican Council speaks of religions with theological respect and recognizes their contributions to peace among the nations. The latter point is currently gaining in importance, now that the closeness between the two-edged functions of religion, generating violence as well as fostering peace, has been recognized. 

The study of religions has to take the following tasks into consideration:
(a.)become familiar with and gaining understanding of religions,
(b.) the theology of Israel and the theology of religions,
(c.) problem-oriented concepts for dealing with conflicts,
(d.) comparative theology, and
(e.) spirituality research.

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