Saturday, November 05, 2005

Ungläubige Theologen können nicht mehr an Uni lehren

This Thursday, the Bundesverwaltungsgericht in Leipzig confirmed the earlier decision of the University of Göttingen to effectively 'fire' Gerd Lüdemann from his teaching post in the evangelischen theologischen Fakultät given his 1998 pronouncement that he is "nicht mehr Glaubender".

OK, I'm no fan of Gerd Lüdemann's recent publications, but I am left with very mixed feelings about this surprising decision.

What do you my readers think about this?

Click here for more information.


At 11/05/2005 5:12 AM, Blogger Ben Myers said...

In my opinion this sadly undermines the freedom of theological scholarship. After all, Lüdemann claims that he was led to this position precisely by his historical research.

You don't need to agree with his opinions to be able to appreciate his attempt to deal openly and honestly with the historical sources, and to allow these sources to have a meaningful impact on his "faith".

At 11/06/2005 3:20 AM, Anonymous steph said...

Absolutely - I agree with Ben. Luedemann is an honest scholar and this is very sad.

At 11/09/2005 9:31 AM, Blogger Donn said...

Excuse me? Luedemann is an avoid atheist wanting to remain teaching at a Christian college. The idea is ludicrous! If his scholarship led him to this can lead him to a non-Christian college!

At 11/10/2005 5:20 PM, Blogger James Crossley said...

This is a genuine question: is Luedemann an atheist? Or does he self identify as a Christian?

And what does it say about a university which fires someone over this issue? It may be a Christian faculty and sure they set the rules but why should I trust anything scholarly that now comes out of Gottingen if I now know it has successfully passed their censorship test?

And I think an implication of what Ben says (correct me if I'm wrong) is that that historical criticism has seriously limited value if it cannot allow the evidence to provoke a change of mind.

At 11/10/2005 5:23 PM, Blogger James Crossley said...

Sorry I've just read the post properly: so ignore the bits of the irrelevant bits of the previous comment!

At 11/10/2005 6:42 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks James!
Actually, I say I have mixed feelings for the following reasons:

On the one hand, this isn't merely an academic-alone institute that has 'fired' him, but one that trains Protestant Pastors. And lets not forget, Gerd started of in Catholic college before his beliefs ended up 'raising a few eyebrows' – and so he changed to a Protestant one. It is a denominational allegiance question, not one about Wissenschaftsfreiheit.

One the other hand, one wonders what sort of precedent this will set elsewhere. Will it promote academic integrity – something so vital to reforming biblical scholarship? Furthermore, in Germany, purely academic theological training doesn't exist - as far as I know. And so a Wissenschaftsfreiheit question is inextricably tied to denominational allegiance.

In my opinion, it’s a tough call, and I'm going to chicken out and not share my final conclusion!

At 11/11/2005 10:27 AM, Blogger Volker said...

I think it is okay to have one or two atheists in your theological faculty. However, if the majority does not believe in the stuff that they are dealing with day in day out, I think this will affect the quality of teaching (negatively). Studying theology is not only a historical discipline but also one which seeks to understand the world and the relevance of the biblical good news for the society, the church etc. If someone thinks that the church is a bunch of mislead or naive people, he is most likely not going to be a helpful tutor for students who will be required in their jobs as pastors to have a holistic outlook on theology (God & the world).

The question is, however, whether Lüdemann is "just" an atheist who does historical studies, or whether he actually sees his mission in persuading Christians that their faith is unfounded. In the latter case he'd better be self-employed, write books and give talks etc., rather than teach in an institution for vocational training.

At 11/11/2005 5:49 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi Volker! Great to have you post on my blog (at last. I was staring to stick my bottom lip out).
Now if I understand you, you suggest that it is OK to have an atheist on your German theological faculty, so long as he doesn't try to push his views 'evangelistically'? But wouldn't that mean an inauthentic existence (enter Bultmann) – not saying what he wants in case he looses his job?
Nevertheless, I agree with your point about the holistic nature of German theological training, and this indeed is hugely significant. Actually, I see your point about the importance of distinguishing militant atheists from others. Its just that I'm not sure how such a difference could be regulated, and whether it would work in practice.
Or what do you think?

At 11/15/2005 5:11 PM, Anonymous Markus Kettner said...

God is dead, Jesus is of cause not the son of God, the grave was not empty - unbelieve is the open confession. Can this man teach in your church? If not, is he the right one to train upcoming leaders of the church? If not, is the Uni the right place at all for churchleadershiptraining? If yes, does somebody have to watch the teaching standards according to the faith? If yes, he is not the only one who has to be fired.

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