The politics of Europeanism: "God" in Ernst Troeltsch's war and post-war writings

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For theologians such as Karl Barth the support for Germany's militaristic ambitions and actions voiced in the manifesto An die Kulturwelt, published in 1914, was a consequence of the historicization of theology. Ernst Troeltsch (1865- 1923), whose interdisciplinary thinking revolved around the significance of history for theology, was labeled the theologian of historicism. Although he had not signed the manifesto, it continues to throw a smokescreen over Troeltsch's theology. Examining a selection of both his war writings and his post-war writings, I argue that Troeltsch conceptualized a political theology which led him to turn from a clash of cultures to a conversation of cultures. Troeltsch's historicization of the concept of God allowed him to resist cultural relativism as well as cultural absolutism. Culminating in the concept of "Europeanism (Europäismus)", Troeltsch's political theology is instructive for a variety of intra- and inter-cultural conversations in Europe today. But in order to unlock its potential, the smokescreen which the manifesto has thrown over Troeltsch's theology needs to be lifted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-249
Number of pages19
JournalJournal for the History of Modern Theology
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Mar 2016


  • culture
  • Ernst troeltsch
  • Europe
  • Europeanism
  • Kulturkrieg
  • Manifesto of the ninety-three
  • political theology
  • theology of crisis
  • World War I


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