Doctoral thesis Political Theology of the 20th Century: Carl Schmitt and Johann Baptist Metz examines the oeuvre of two, for the political theology of the last century, indispensable thinkers. Using an inductive-deductive, critical-analytical, and synthetic method, this paper describes the development of their models of political theology in response to historical-social changes of the 20th century. Political theology starts with the dilemma how should the Church as a community of believers be positioned according to the structures of political power formed in the Enlightenment tradition of a strict division of state and religion which is indifferent to the requirement of the belief that one's private and public life must be in accordance with God's will. Therefore, political theology approaches the issue of faith in the world, considering the history of the world at the same time as the history of salvation. Therefore, this type of theological discourse does not deal with abstract conceptual elaborations, but rather examines the actual state of socio-political life in relation to transcendent.
The first chapter provides an overview of Carl Schmitt's "old" political theology. Schmitt analyses fundamental legal concepts such as sovereignty, legitimacy of the state, foundations of constitutive law, political rights and obligations of citizens, as well as the role of the Church in socio-political order. In addition to these juridical topics, it deals with the very nature of the concept of political, as well as with the inner contradictions in modern politics, which gives rise to an insightful critique of liberal democracy. Carl Schmitt is not a theologian, but a jurist who distinguishes the "spirit of the law" as opposed to the "letter of the law", thus touching on a metaphysical worldview that underlies the political order and collective self-understanding of society. His political theology emphasizes the importance of relationship with the transcendent for the state and society and, in the entelechial sense, for the human existence. This then also determines how the state should be governed. His critique of law and politics exposes the reasons for and consequences of the deviation of modern socio-political practices from this fundamental principle of forming a political community. Reading through Schmitt's most important publications, this chapter deals with his core concepts: a) the sociology of juridical concepts, by which Schmitt establishes the analogy between theological notions and legal concepts and thus explains the process of secularization; b) the personal sovereign as the "mortal god" who decides on the "exception"; c) the Church as a "complexio oppositorum" on which its universality and holistic approach to man are based; d) the principle of substantive and personal representation of transcendence; e) the concept of the political as an expression of one's self-consciousness, sovereignty and will to survive; f) Man’s "dangerous" nature that resists a simplistic binary moral classification; g) as well as historical analysis of liberalism on which he bases his critique of the modern state and society. Inspired by Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, Schmitt presents his decisionalist view of the state based on personal sovereignty as a secularized theological notion of God's sovereignty over the cosmos. That is why the authority and power of the state are embodied in the person of the sovereign who, like a "mortal god", has jurisdiction over every aspect of social life, including religion. The sovereign has a "monopoly on the political" in order to legitimately make crucial political decisions in "exceptional" situations to guarantee the political unity of the people. The sovereign intervenes beyond the established legal framework and that is why his actions are a secularized analogy of divine interventions into the world outside the laws of nature. The sovereign thus protects society from the chaos of the Hobbesian "state of nature" and in the theological sense acts as a "catechon", a representative of God's power in history, delaying the cataclysm of the Apocalypse. In other words, in Schmitt's political theology socio-political reality reflects the theological reality. For this reason the function of the Church is to support and legitimize the sovereign, who has jurisdiction over religious issues, because the ruler, by his function of "catechon", is the defender of the faith, a kind of anointed instrument of God in the manner of the Old Testament kings of Israel. Schmitt's view of sovereignty is meant to show how it is not possible to dispel God's demand for obedience, despite the secularization and liberal neutralization of the theological-moral aspect of political authority. Public life and political activity are not exempt from the moral-theological decision of "for" or "against" God. It is a fundamental theological-political challenge for any political order. Given the historical context of the Weimar Republic, Schmitt's political theology could also be described as a negative reaction to the anthropological optimism of modern liberalism which promotes the depoliticization of society while ignoring the threat of totalitarian political ideologies in domestic politics and in the international community. At the time, Schmitt was concerned about the possibility of the outbreak of the communist revolution and the imperialist pretensions of Soviet Russia. Schmitt's political theology can thus be seen as a project of preserving the existential seriousness of that political and awareness of the importance of personal subjectivity and initiative in making crucial political decisions against the increasing trend of neutralizing the political. Schmitt is concerned about the immanentistic tendency present in liberalism, which reduces the political to an administrative instrument for management of public affairs and social needs without regard for the existential importance of the political. If the intensity of association and dissociation among people is intense enough, it enables the creation of a united political entity, the State. In other words, the political is about survival, making a crucial decision that makes the difference between life and death for the whole of society. Schmitt points out the origin of politics in theological concepts to emphasize the inevitable existentiality and totality of the political and why a crucial political decision made by Man can never be substituted by legal fiction of the "social contract", which today is regarded as the founding act of the state. Schmitt's concept of political is, therefore, a starting point for his critique of liberal bourgeois society and how it chooses to govern itself through parliamentary democracy. Schmitt recognizes liberal emancipation of the individual through the institution of personal freedoms and political rights limits the power of the state and privates religion, which then neutralizes the theological-metaphysical foundation of political authority. Liberal emphasis on personal morality and economic rationality deprives the political of its specific meaning. Through such neutralization of the political, social existence loses the existential intensity that links it to transcendence. Schmitt's criticism of liberalism is based on his "stasiological" understanding of the totality of the political, which represents Man’s complete freedom and limitlessness. Because of their "dangerous" nature, this absolute freedom always results in conflict between men. However, in the Trinity it is manifested as "stasis", a paradox incomprehensible to the human mind because it means simultaneously perfect unity and differentiation within God, who should be undivided in himself. This is why Schmitt's political theology emphasizes the influence of Christianity on European civilization, culture and politics. Religion must co-operate with the sovereign, legitimizing his rule, to secure political unity, prevent a fratricidal war, and provide protection against external enemies. In so doing, the sovereign performs a catechonian function and ensures order, peace and security against the threat of the apocalyptic chaos of the apolitical "natural state" which is nothing more than "the war of all against all". The second chapter elaborates on the new political theology of German Catholic theologian Johann Baptist Metz. This theological project, in many ways radically different from previous versions of political theology, began during the 1960s, in the optimistic atmosphere after the Second Vatican Council. Metz abandons the idealistic-transcendental paradigm of mainstream theology and develops a new "post-metaphysical" approach to theology, which is sensitive to influence of the socio-historical conditions on the perception and practice of faith in the world. Crucial intellectual influences on Metz from this period are Karl Rahner, Theodor W. Adorno, Ernst Bloch and Walter Benjamin. The initial phase of Metz's work put forward in the Theology of the World, presents a positive appreciation of secularization understood as a consequence of the historical impact of Christianity on the world. Furthermore, Metz argues in favour of an eschatological orientation of theology, since the existential focus on the future is the hallmark of modernity. In addition, he defines the task of a socio-historically sensitive theology: to deprivatize the faith and to redefine the relationship between faith and the world as a relationship between theory and practice, understanding of faith and practical living of faith in the world, in order to critically deal with the legacy of the Enlightenment. For Metz, to privatize faith means one willingly blinds oneself to the influence of the socio-historical context on understanding of religion, as well as its influence on society and history, and especially on the human subject himself. Metz does not promote the relativization of Man as the subject of society and history by absolutising socio-historical context, nor the individualistic understanding of the Christian's responsibility for the world as in idealistic theological systems. An integral element of this initial draft of the new political theology is the corresponding vision of the Church. The challenge of actualizing the relationship between faith and the world requires the institutionalisation of faith. Creating a critical awareness of prejudices, different beliefs and structures of plausibility in a society that impedes the successful proclamation of the Gospel needs an institution dedicated to promoting and preserving the faith. The task of the new political theology is to develop such an understanding of the ecclesiastical institution that would enable the Church to be an "institution of critical freedom in faith". In his second book, Faith in History and Society, Metz further elaborates on his concept of a new political theology as a practical fundamental theology whose focus is on Man as the subject of history and society. He emphasises "the primacy of praxis" as simultaneously the core of the Christian faith understood in terms of "the imitation of Christ" and the point of encounter with the Enlightenment guided by the principle that the critical mind strives to become practical. Metz promotes abandoning the neo-scholastic direct conflict strategy with modernist trends in order to facilitate a critical-dialectical dialogue with the legacy of the Enlightenment. The project of new political theology also touches on issues of sensitivity to suffering, confronts the problem of idealism in contemporary theology, and broadens its perspective beyond the experience of European bourgeois culture. Metz presents his theological project as authentic Christian hermeneutics which operates through three practical categories of importance in today's historical and social circumstances: memory, narrative, and solidarity. Further elaboration of the new political theology as a political theology of the subject in which "Christology stands under the primacy of praxis" is a consequence of Metz rejecting classical ahistorical metaphysics, which assumes an unproblematic relationship between the truths of the Christian faith and the unspoken cosmological notions of the world. Equally important was the introduction of memoria passionis as a Christological axis of his theological project. The memory of Christ's passion and death encompasses the pervasive experience of suffering, and the resurrection emphasizes the messianic aspect of the Christian faith: the eschatological promises of peace, justice, and prosperity, even for those who have been victimized and forgotten. It also allows faith to be interpreted intelligibly to the modern worldview based on the ideal of emancipation. This allows the new political theology to correct and complement the legacy of the Enlightenment. The universal experience of suffering contained in memoria passionis, the resolution of which is anticipated in the eschaton, doesn't allow one to worry only about the future, neglecting the history of suffering. To think in such a way is a feature of evolutionary rationality adopted by modern political ideologies. Metz expresses his awareness of this through the "theodicy question", which cannot be resolved in history and so manifests as an apocalyptic consciousness – as an expectation of the end of history. This, according to Metz, fosters an active sensitivity to the suffering in history, thereby fulfilling a core requirement of new political theology as a practical fundamental theology: authentic universal solidarity. Metz, therefore, rejects any justification of forgetting the suffering in history in this age of "cultural amnesia". He calls for the revival of Israel's "anamnetic spirit" with its "weak" structure sensitive to crises in history, which cannot neglect or forget the suffering of others. Holocaust-like disasters have implications for history and require a new way of doing theology. That is why the new political theology is "theology after Auschwitz", because it addresses the forgetfulness of modern society fascinated by the idea of aestheticized freedom regardless of the other’s suffering, so it can shape the mission of the Church accordingly.
The Church is called to become a global moral authority and to promote the dignity of Man proclaiming the eschatological hope of salvation. This proclamation, however, should be a synthesis of the deposit of faith and historical experience expressed through the memory of others' suffering. Metz seeks to complement the universalist expression of modern humanism with the biblical culture of "acknowledging others in their otherness" for the purpose of articulating a "worldwide program of Christianity in the pluralism of religions and cultures". Such a theological perspective also promotes "obedience to the authority of those who suffer" as a practical response to the half-hearted and insufficient application of Enlightenment ideals due to socio-political practice based on the "anthropology of domination". Building on his critique of socio-political life based on „will to power“, Metz promotes an "anthropological revolution", a synthesis of morality and politics in a non-totalitarian way, which involves re-examining all prior perceptions about politics, as well as aestheticization of Europe's moral and political importance in the world. The purpose of the new political theology is to emphasize Christian responsibility and concern for the world, to promote empathy and solidarity as the initial human reaction to suffering which precedes every political idea, philosophy of history and society, or even theology. That is why the focus of the Church and contemporary theology should be "formulating faith in categories of resistance prepared for suffering and change" against the prevailing postmodern indifference and the ever-present desire for political power even at the cost of one’s own humanity. Metz also uses the term "mysticism of the eyes wide open" to communicate a view of authentic Christian praxis in the world. Eyes wide open for the suffering of others and against the self-deception that immunizes oneself from the sensitivity to others' suffering and the demand for solidarity. The third chapter provides a comparative analysis of both political theologies outlined in the previous two chapters and makes out the profile of 20th century political theology that emerges from this comparison. First, observing the reactions Carl Schmitt and Johann Baptist Metz had on the different concepts to their respective political theologies from the few remarks that can be found in their publications, one can see what they thought of one another. Schmitt refers to Metz's new political theology only once, in Political Theology II., where he presents Metz's choice to formulate his project as political theology as a confirmation of his sociology of juridical concepts. Schmitt interprets Metz according to his political theology in service of an argument to refute Eric Peterson's claim how Christian theological conception of God as the Trinity precludes the creation of any kind of Christian political theology. Metz, however, mentions Schmitt several times, but does not engage in a systematic analysis of his "old" political theology. His remarks are also incidental, short in substance and largely confined to several points: Schmitt's political theology falls under political romanticism and right-Hegelian political philosophy; his critical attitude toward the Enlightenment was shaped by French traditionalism; his decisionism should be viewed in the historical context of the Weimar Republic; the sociology of juridical terms could be understood as a "theological" aspect of Schmitt's political theory. As always when he mentions Schmitt, Metz is keen to point out the difference between the new political theology and the "old" political theology. In this he may have succeeded best in the essay On the Catholic Principle of Representation. There he asserts how his theology speaks of the political powerlessness and non-identity of the suffering and marginalized, whose suffering stands as a reminder of the absence of the Messiah and the expectation of Christ's return, while Schmitt declares the ethos of political power through the representation of the presence of the glorious and risen Christ in the person of the sovereign. Secondly, the comparison itself of these two political theologies looks at the political and theological aspect separately and identifies touchpoints between them. This paper sought to avoid a simple binary systematisation which only recognizes the similarities and differences between Schmitt and Metz. Starting with the political aspect, the desire was to show how both political theologians, one by virtue of his sociology of juridical concepts, and the other by calling for the temporalisation of metaphysics, sought to change the accepted understanding of the relationship between faith and the world, religion and politics, Church and state. In doing so, they rely on the ontic category of danger embedded in their anthropologies in order to express the tension between an orderly, civilized life in society and unpredictable existence "in the state of nature". Schmitt sees Man himself as "dangerous" because of his absolute freedom and limitlessness, which implies a likelihood of conflict. Society is a voluntary renunciation of the fullness of freedom to achieve security and co-operation. However, the ever-present threat of violence does not disappear but is transmitted to the level of international relations, because the potential for conflict now manifests itself as a conflict between sovereign states. Metz, however, emphasises the universality of suffering in history, the cause of which he sees in the "anthropology of domination", an expression of Augustinian "will for power", thus distorting the true meaning of solidarity as the true foundation of human society. From the comparison of Carl Schmitt's "old" political theology and Johann Baptist Metz's new political theology, profile of Catholic political theology in the 20th century can be summarised in the following way: (a) importance of relationship between faith and the world, religion and politics, Church and the State; (b) a religious subject is also the subject of history and society; (c) the influence of socio-political conditions on perception and practice of faith, as well as dependency of socio-political life on religion. Starting from these characteristics, it is clear that the value of political theology depends on its relevance for and applicability in a given historical moment and in the current socio-political situation. This is why the last section of the third chapter gives a commentary of 20th century political theology, from Schmitt's and Metz's perspectives, on modern liberal democracy and the "liberal world order" at the beginning of the 21st century, amid increasing resistance to neo-liberal market globalisation, ever stronger political influence of supranational organisations, such as the European Union, and centralisation and bureaucratisation of the political process at the expense of local autonomy and self-government. There is also further tension because of thoughtless ideological demagogy that erodes social consensus and risks political violence against perceived enemies. All this while society at all levels is undergoing an extremely anxious transformation caused by "the digital revolution", climate change and never-before-seen "crises", such as mass migration and the collapse of the global economy due to pandemics, to which the international community has no ready response. In the background of it all lies the unresolved issue of relationship between faith and the world in the post-Enlightenment, modern era. Political theology of the 20th century seeks to address this "Gordian knot" by presenting different models, in this case Schmitt's and Metz's, of the same core political idea which can be expressed by the phrase "politics affected by transcendence". To this end, the third chapter compares both versions of political theology with Pope Francis's theología del pueblo, in order to distinguish how political theology fits into the efforts of the Church to reflect on the relationship between faith and the world. The everlasting burden of the Papacy, how in one man – the Pope – the relationship of the whole Church to the modern world is reflected, crystallises the key dilemma of political theology in the 20th century: the challenge to interpret and proclaim the Gospel in the present with full awareness of the historical and socio-political consequences of theological claims? There is no shortage of warnings on the risks and dangers of mixing politics and religion, the theologisation of politics, and the politicisation of theology. And again, this is impossible to avoid, because separating religious and political beliefs in the human mind is all but impossible and certainly not so straightforward as the institutional separation of Church and State. Obviously, some kind of interface between faith and the world is needed. This interface needs to be something more than a mere strategy of (re)evangelisation or program of guidelines given by the Church on pressing economic, political, social and cultural issues.
This paper sought to show how political theology could serve as this much-needed interface between faith and the world, regarding the socio-political aspect of the human condition, precisely because it successfully theologically articulates the ontic core of politics, exemplified by "stasiology" and memoria passionis. The joint contribution of Carl Schmitt and Johann Baptist Metz is a correction of the modern political tradition, which fills the sacral in public space with "idols" of economic growth, scientific progress and the apotheosis of man in the form of allegedly inviolable human rights. Function of politics is also conceptualization and realization of humanitys' entelechiological purpose. In the context of modern history of emancipation, democracy should be understood as an awareness of the fragility of crucial social and political structures which are under constant risk of failure and regression. Accepting vulnerability to the unforeseen and unexpected is a way to open the world to transcendence. After all, what else is the "exception" but a way to give God the right to vote.