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Hope in Action

Hope in Action: Subversive Eschatology in the Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx and Johann Baptist Metz

Steven M. Rodenborn
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Hope in Action
    Book Description:

    This volume contends against a major lacuna in the story of eschatology in the twentieth century by offering a historical and comparative analysis of Edward Schillebeeckx’s prophetic eschatology and Johann Baptist Metz’s apocalyptic eschatology with the goal of identifying relative advantages and limitations of these divergent eschatological frameworks for rendering a Christian account of hope that prompts action in the public arena. Rodenborn provides a fresh angle on eschatologies of hope, bringing to the fore two Catholic theologians whose influences range from Vatican II to Latin American liberation theology. Hope in Action offers an innovative contribution to the theological account of the emergence of European political theologies and the role of eschatology as a practical and destabilizing theological category.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-8763-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction: ʺAlways be ready …ʺ
    (pp. 1-22)

    “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). Within this biblical charge, addressed to early Christian communities suffering religious persecution at the turn of the second century, we find a concentrated expression of a task that has persistently pressed itself upon Christian theology. What is that hope which would sustain Christian communities down through the centuries? How might theologians offer an account of that hope responsive to the distinct demands of their time? Although the history of Christian theology might be read profitably...

  4. 1 Metz's Response to Secularization: From a Transcendental-Linear to a Utopic Theology of History
    (pp. 23-68)

    This chapter begins by examining Johann Baptist Metz’s early understanding of the modern process of secularization and his effort to present a positive interpretation of this process in light of Catholic theology. By tracing the manner in which Metz approached this task in his writing through 1966, we will see that it was through engaging the process of secularization that a distinctive eschatology emerged in his theological program. His transcendental-linear theology of history presented a productive apologetic resource, allowing him to affirm the ongoing validity of Christianity for those who experienced the process of secularization as a threat to their...

  5. 2 Schillebeeckx's Response to Secularization: From a Merciful Dispensation to Latent Eschatological Hope
    (pp. 69-114)

    In chapter 1, we saw that Metz’s eschatological project developed out of his theological analysis of the modern process of secularization, was unduly limited by his transcendental-linear theology of history, and gradually emerged as a practical-critical hope for the future. Now, turning to Edward Schillebeeckx’s efforts to address the apologetic consequences of secularization during the late 1950s through the mid-1960s, we will trace similar developments that unfold over significantly different terrain; Schillebeeckx offered a distinctive response to the same historical challenges, yet during this period the doctrine of eschatology also would move to the center of his theological project.


  6. 3 Schillebeeckx Contends with a History Marked by Suffering: Contrast Experiences and a Search for Eschatological Hopeʹs Positive Orientation
    (pp. 115-166)

    In the preceding two chapters, we examined the turn to eschatology in the writings of Metz and Schillebeeckx as they attempted to respond to the cultural pressures faced by the European church in the 1960s. Initially, their distinctly modern approaches to eschatology allowed both theologians to champion a practical eschatology that operated rather comfortably within the wider cultural context. As we observed, however, it was not long before both theologians grew increasingly sensitive to the subsequent overidentification of the hope of Christianity with the hope of modern culture. This sensitivity to the nonidentity of eschatological and societal hope only would...

  7. 4 Schillebeeckx's Prophetic Eschatology: Contrast Experiences and Creative Fragments
    (pp. 167-200)

    In chapter 3, we watched as Schillebeeckx worked to identify a critical and productive orientation for the Christian’s hope. It was out of this interest that his massive christological project, the story of the eschatological prophet, emerged. It was also within the context of this project that Schillebeeckx once again engaged the Christian claim that Jesus has universal significance for all of human history, considered in chapter 2. In returning to this claim in the 1970s, however, Schillebeeckx would directly confront the questions of whether and how we can speak of the universal significance of any human person and whether...

  8. 5 Metz Contends with a History Marked by Suffering: Sensitivity to Suffering Under the Pressures of Evolutionary Time
    (pp. 201-268)

    In the preceding two chapters, when tracing the developments in Schillebeeckx’s thought from the late 1960s through the early 1990s, we observed in his writings his increasing unease with the historical processes of secularization and the distinct form of progressive optimism underlying European and North American technocratic societies. In search of a theological response to what critical theorists called the “dialectic of Enlightenment,” Schillebeeckx turned to the critical negativity of Christianity’s eschatological hope. He saw in that hope a powerful resource capable of resisting the dangerous excesses of the period’s myopic commitment to technological progress while concurrently animating the Christian’s...

  9. 6 Metz’s Apocalyptic Theology of History: Holding Open Hope by Binding History
    (pp. 269-308)

    As we have just seen, Metz turned to a practical fundamental theology developed through the categories of memory, narrative, and solidarity in search of the resources necessary to disrupt the conditions of modernity and to revivify an eschatological hope. It is to that central focus of this chapter—Metz’s apocalyptic eschatology—that we now turn. As we shall see, Metz located in the apocalyptic the fundamental temporal framework through which a subversive expectation for the future becomes possible within the historical context of modernity and, ultimately, postmodernity. He became convinced that in the face of persistent and intractable suffering, an...

  10. Conclusion: “An accounting for the hope…”
    (pp. 309-338)

    “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). Both Metz and Schillebeeckx regularly cited this biblical charge as they struggled, over the course of four decades, to express an eschatological hope responsive to the demands of their time. What challenges and endangers Christian hope today? What is the hope that is in you? Over the course of this study, we have seen that Metz’s and Schillebeeckx’s responses to these questions were frequently in flux. Their understandings of the precise pressures confronting the modern...

  11. Postscript: Subversive Eschatology and “Indirect Ecumenism”
    (pp. 339-346)

    As noted at the end of the last chapter, our focus throughout this study has remained on Schillebeeckx’s and Metz’s projects, and the decision to avoid transitioning toward a more general examination of prophetic and apocalyptic eschatologies was a deliberate one. I would be remiss, however, if that decision were allowed to conceal the larger theological milieu in which their projects developed. Here, I do not have in mind the numerous cultural, theological, and philosophical currents identified throughout our study that informed and gave direction, dialectically and otherwise, to Schillebeeckx’s and Metz’s eschatologies. Rather, very little attention has been given...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 347-364)
  13. Index of Names
    (pp. 365-366)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 367-367)