The Hidden God: Luther, Philosophy, and Political Theology

The Hidden God: Luther, Philosophy, and Political Theology

The Hidden God: Luther, Philosophy, and Political Theology

The Hidden God: Luther, Philosophy, and Political Theology

Synopsis

In this phenomenological reading of Luther, Marius Timmann Mjaaland shows that theological discourse is never philosophically neutral and always politically loaded. Raising questions concerning the conditions of modern philosophy, religion, and political ideas, Marius Timmann Mjaaland follows a dark thread of thought back to its origin in Martin Luther. Thorough analyses of the genealogy of secularization, the political role of the apocalypse, the topology of the self, and the destruction of metaphysics demonstrate the continuous relevance of this highly subtle thinker.rabbi

Excerpt

Luther’s distinction between the hidden and the revealed God is one of the most puzzling and controversial topics of his thought. For centuries it was mostly neglected within theology, whereas it played a crucial role in the development of modern philosophy. Pascal and Kant insisted on this distinction, whereas Hegel rejected it in favor of a total revelation of the Spirit. Even political imagination was affected, where it played a significant but secluded role, from apocalyptic visions to the hard currency of oikonomia and sovereignty. the modest ambition of the present volume is to examine the source of this development, namely, to trace an original difference between absolute hiddenness and the light of scripture, of reason, and of revelation in order to reconsider it as a topic of controversies in the twenty-first century.

Theologians in early modernity were reluctant to discuss the notion of the hidden God due to its threatening and monstrous gestalt in religious imagination. When Luther introduced the distinction between the hidden and the revealed God, however, the point was to avoid such speculations concerning the hidden God, and also to venture a destruction of Aristotelian metaphysics and thus raise a critical discussion on the rationality of philosophical and theological discourse—and the crucial difference between them. Hence, the history of perception has witnessed an ironic twist of fate: the theological discussions on the topic have ended with a rather confessional response, either pro or contra the hidden God, whereby the status confessionis in the early twenty-first century goes in favor of the latter, namely, an exclusion of the notion from theological discourse.

The history of modern philosophy, conversely, demonstrates a continued discussion on the distinction between hiddenness and revelation as a primary topos of thought, which concerns the ultimate conditions for philosophical discourse, linguistically, metaphysically, and epistemologically. From a somewhat different approach, namely, from the question of sovereignty, revolution, and political decisions in the most fateful historical states of exception, the hidden God has come to play a controversial role even for political philosophy and theology. Both trajectories will be submitted to further inquiry in a planned second volume on the hidden God in modernity, also including controversies in philosophy and political theology.

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