(D12) A Comparative Study of pacification Strategies Religious Legitimacy Claims

A discussion is currently taking place on the extent to which not only social factors external to religion are responsible for the increasingly violent aspect of religious traditions, but predominantly inclinations within the religions themselves. In the foreground is the claim that unconditionally valid claims to truth must see themselves as being levelled against competing claims to truth and pursue their de-legitimisation; and that in this they can also develop a political-social dynamic of violently contesting the right for competing communities of faith to exist. But in monotheistic religions, strategies have also been developed for formulating one’s own convictions of faith not as being levelled against other religious systems, but, for reasons internal to the religion, of relating positively to other religious validity claims. This research project will trace and evaluate such strategies.

The object of the investigation will be models of religious self-thematisation in Christianity and Islam that make it possible

  • to formulate one’s own normative legitimacy as a claim to truth and simultaneously positively process the factual limits of its recognition, so that also the refusal by “the other” to unconditionally recognise one’s own claims to legitimacy can in turn be accepted for internal theological reasons;
  • to control the internal religious dynamic of assurance to the extent that it does not need to violently defend itself against tendencies and influences that are perceived as causes for insecurity.

The study will work out approaches and strategies for a comparative theology of religion as well as theological attempts in Islam and Christianity to efficiently work through the shaking up or relativising of internal religious assurance. It is to be examined to what extent such models can relativise the contemporary critique of the monotheistic religion’s potential for violence and to what extent – on the basis of an understandable inner-theological legitimacy – these models are suitable for helping to determine the self-understanding of the respective religious traditions. This study will take place in a networked fashion.

The project’s objective is to be achieved in a two-pronged way: through the case studies of the project assistants, Daniel Bugiel and Menno Preuschaft, and by focusing on the underlying subject in regular sessions and symposia to which all or single project team members contribute. International symposia will offer the possibility of staying in contact with comparable research projects. By means of research exchanges with other disciplines (in particular religious studies and sociology of religion), they will in addition help to clarify the “framing questions” as to the conditions that must be given so that the respective potential for reflection and self-thematisation can have an effect, and as to the conditions of social or religious systems that tend to hinder this.

The following events have already taken place:

  • The project’s first international symposium was held under the title "Infrage gestellte Gewissheit" (Contested Assurance) in Münster from 28 to 29 November 2008. The contributions have already been published as “Verwundete Gewissheit” (Wounded Assurance) and contain the revised papers of Peter Strasser, Eilert Herms, Reinhold Bernhardt, Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd and Muhammad Machasin as well as those of all project team members.
  • In collaboration with the University of Basel’s Faculty of Theology, Klaus von Stosch – who was in the meantime appointed professor in Paderborn but is still co-head of the project – organised an international symposium on the self-conception of Comparative Theology. The symposium was held from 31 October to 2 November 2008, with the support of the cluster of excellence “Religion and Politics”. For the first time in Europe, thus, this concept could be presented and reflected on a broad scale and the highest level, and it could be integrated into the discussions of our project. The articles are documented in the volume “Komparative Theologie” (Comparative Theology).
  • The heads of the project presented it at a symposium held from 1 to 3 June 2009 at the Catholic Academy of the Archdiocese of Paderborn in Schwerte. They discussed the project with Prof. Dr. Mohammed Modjtahed Schabestari from Tehran, an Iranian Koran scholar who is widely known around the world.
  • In the second phase of the project, the ambivalence of religious assurance processes as outlined in the first phase was discussed on the basis of a significant single theological issue. The issue of “Eschatology” appeared to be particularly suitable. In both Christianity and Islam, it is to a high degree charged with conceptions of violence and exposed to current reinterpretations seeking to come to terms with and to overcome such traditions of violence. An international symposium on this topic was held from 29 to 30 January 2010 in Münster under the title "Letzte Dinge. Eschatologie als Scheideweg/am Scheideweg" (Last Things. Eschatology as a Crossroads/at the Crossroads). It conveyed a lively impression of the patterns of argumentation by which this goal might be achieved. The documentation volume is under way.

Bibliography (in German)