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What is Religion, and What is Religion For? Thoughts in Light of Communicative Theology

Edmund Arens ; Katolički bogoslovni fakultet Sveučilišta u Luzernu, Luzern, Švicarska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 321 Kb

str. 9-23

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Puni tekst: engleski pdf 226 Kb

str. 9-23

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The main purpose of my paper is to show that religion is closely connected with communication and action. Religion is rather a life practice than a worldview. This thesis is developed in both conversation and dispute with philosophical and anthropological approaches to religion. On the one hand, an understanding of religion as practice coping with contingency is dealt with. On the other hand, some insights of ritual studies regarding religion as genuine ritual practice are addressed. Both positions have significant shortcomings; the first strictly separates religious practice from other forms of action; the second rightly underlines the aspects of liminality and communitas but neglects the ambiguity of rituals which can not only establish true community but can become compulsive as well.
Therefore, the theory of communicative action, introduced by Jurgen Habermas is taken into account. The paper sketches how Habermas in his earlier writings considered religion as having become obsolete in modernity and thus replaced by communicative action. However, his views of religion have considerably changed in the last decade. In the meanwhile, he insists that religion contains a communicative potential and that religious communities must not be marginalized or excommunicated by secular thinking. On the contrary, they belong to the public sphere where they play an inspiring and remembering role.
Taking up central insights from Habermas' philosophical theory of communicative action and integrating them into fundamental theology, I claim that religion itself is a constitutive communicative practice. Following Helmut Peukert and others I try to make clear, that communicative religious speech and action has a creative, an innovative and an anamnestic potential. Religion takes place within religious communities and traditions, and it is done in communicative faith practice. It is performed in different forms of communicative-religious action. The paper underlines that witnessing and confessing are two elementary acts of monotheistic religions. It then turns to further forms of communicative-religious practice and addresses narrating, celebrating, proclaiming and sharing.
Finally, some guidelines for a communicative theology are pointed out, encompassing its academic, ecclesial, communicative and critical dimensions, related to religion(s) and both directed to and aiming at the creative, innovative and rescuing reality of God.

Ključne riječi

religion; theory of communicative action; communicative theology; ritual; liminality; J. Habermas

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