Systematic Theology

Systematic Theology sets out to give a comprehensive account of the key doctrines and moral practices of Christian faith. It does so by complying with two essential normative tasks, one internal and one external. Internally, Systematic Theology seeks to outline and defend a coherent view both of core doctrines (qua dogmatics) and moral practices (qua ethics) of Christian faith, and this vis-à-vis alternative interpretations within the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and also the various competing Protestant traditions. Thus conceived, the dogmatician does not so much address the question of whether Christian doctrines are actually true, but rather of whether what pretends to be a true expression of Christian faith in fact deserves to be called truly Christian. Accordingly, the Christian ethicist completely ignores (and is fully entitled to ignore) whether what is considered morally good in the respective Christian tradition is actually good; his or her key issue is rather whether what is claimed here as good in a Christian sense indeed deserves to be called truly Christian.

The external task of Systematic Theology bears upon the relation of Christianity to other religions and likewise to non-religious worldviews. Whereas the internal task can be fulfilled by simply taking the truth of Christianity for granted – or by suspending the issue altogether –, this second task is in fact tantamount to addressing the problem explicitly and head on; accordingly, the crucial questions are firstly whether Christian faith is in fact true (or at least rationally justified) and secondly if and to what extent the Christian view of moral goodness actually captures the essence of what can and must be deemed (morally) good.

In order to meet the challenges of this second task, Systematic Theology will and in fact must draw upon the resources and, in particular, the methods of philosophy (of religion). The Faculty of Protestant Theology at Goethe University incorporates philosophical issues, in particular those concerning the philosophy of religion, into its own agenda and curriculum by assigning it to the (duties of the) Chair of Systematic Theology – an equally unique and successful construction in comparison to other German theological faculties!