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Chair of Systematic Theology (Catholic)

Organisational unit: Chair

Organisation profile

Former Chair holder: Prof. Dr. Julia Enxing is currently continuing her research at Ruhr University Bochum

What is Systematic Theology?

The critical reflection of the Christian discourse on God is at the centre of Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology reflects the contents of Catholic faith and social teachings in the context of today's societies and their social, political, spiritual challenges. The goal of this theological sub-discipline is to reflect critically the convictions of Christian faith, to interprete them within today’s social, political, cultural contexts and to provide critical-creative impulses for the shaping of today's social life. To this end, systematic theology engages in interdisciplinary dialogue with other religions, non-religious world concepts, the natural and social sciences, among others.

Systematic Theology at the TU Dresden focuses on "classical" dogmatic topics (the doctrine of creation, the doctrine of God, Christology, eschatology, the doctrine of the sacraments) as well as questions of philosophy of religion, environmental ethics and moral theology. One focus of the professorship is the question of a just coexistence not only of humans, but of living beings as a whole, the theological answers to which are currently being strongly debated in the field of Human-Animal-Studies.

The sources with which Systematic Theology is concerned are not only the Holy Scriptures, church history and church documents, but also statements by theologians of various theological schools, texts by mystics, as well as literary, artistic and cultural forms of expression.

The courses of the chair connect academic theological work with future professional fields in school, research, society and explore the relevance of theology in the worlds of today. Lectures with guest speakers and excursions contribute to a multifaceted view on theology also from outside the academia.

Our Vision

"Together we create" - this slogan is programmatic for the work of our team at the Chair of Systematic Theology. We let ourselves challenge by current social and political situations, bring them in dialogue with Christian theology, and develop theological reflections that are able to contribute to an open society. Our goal of a rationally responsible God-talk presupposes the presence of God in all aspects of life, traces them, questions them and tries to reflect, articulate and depict the unspeakable. As scientists, we work on clear conceptual frameworks that present reflections on Christian faith in systematic ways, and, simultaneously, remain aware of the provisional nature of our positions and statements.

The forms of theology we develop have a critical stance: We work out theological reflections that question hegemonic discourses, the boundaries they draw and the taxonomies they establish – like the boundary between human and animal life in the Anthropocene, or the supposed superiority of human lives in regard to other forms of live. We highlight the social construction of these boundaries / distinctions and try to overwrite them critically and creatively, by drawing from theological heritage and critical theories. Beyond questions of human-animal interaction, a particular object of study are protest cultures, political art or provocative performances that intervene in the public sphere, question existing normative frames and claim performatively modified ways of live excluded before, often by drawing from religious traditions or theological symbolic orders. 

Our research is interdisciplinary and international. It takes shape in dialogue with scholars from other disciplines at the TU Dresden (e.g. PRISMA), on the national and international level (especially with references to theologians in USA, Austria, Belgium). At the same time, our research is rooted in the particular contexts of to the city of Dresden and Eastern Germany. We cooperate with extra-academic partners (like the Catholic Academy of the Diocese of Dresden-Meißen, the Deutsche Hygiene-Museum Dresden, local parishes or student groups). This enable us to link our research both to theological practice and to concrete places of social life and activity.

We apply different critical methods, including contextual hermeneutics, critical theories, discouse analysis and performance analysis, participant observation.

"Together we create" – this means for us not only that we act as a team in research, teaching, and university self-governance, not only that we shape these areas together. It implies also a particular social and ethical stance: We see ourselves as part of a living and co-creative network that does not act at the expense of the other members of the network, but seeks to act together with them and to open a space of creative, vibrant, communicative space of cooperation and discovery.

Our research interests at a glance:

  • Animal theology; theological human-animal studies (international, interdisciplinary research network on this under construction).
  • Animal rights
  • Theologies of Creation
  • Theology & Sustainability
  • Ecocide and Anthropocene
  • Sexism, racism, speciesism (Unity of Oppression)
  • Performance theology, performative theologies
  • Critical Theologies
  • Ecclesiology

Other areas of focus:

  • Process theologies, Relational theologies.
  • Guilt and sin (in) the church
  • Gender Studies, Feminism, Theology & Gender
  • Theology of failure
  • Intercultural, postcolonial and decolonial theologies

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