Johann Metz

Dangerous Memory

The following thesis may serve as a theological basis for our theme: The church must understand itself and prove itself as the public witness and bearer of a dangerous memory of freedom in the systems of our emancipatory society. This thesis is based on memoria as the fundamental way that Christian faith is expressed, and on the central and specific significance of freedom in this faith. It is in faith that that Christians actualize the memoria passionis, mortis, et resurrectionis Jesu Christi. They faithfully remember the testament of his love, in which God’s dominion among men and women appeared precisely in the fact that the dominion that human beings exercise over one another began to be pulled down, that Jesus declared himself to be on the side of the invisible ones, those who are rejected and oppressed, and in so doing announced to them God’s coming dominion as the liberating power of an unconditional love. This memoria Jesu Christi is not one that deceitfully dispenses one from the risks of the future. It is no bourgeois counterfigure to hope. On the contrary, it holds a particular anticipation of the future as a future for the hopeless, the shattered and oppressed. In this way it is a dangerous and liberating memory, which badgers the present and calls it into question, since it deos not remember just any open future, but precisely this future, and because it compels believers to be in a continual state of transformation in order to take this future into account.

… It mobilizes tradition as a dangerous tradition and thus as a liberating power in the face of one-dimensionality and certainty of those “whose time is always here” (Jn 7:6).

… In my view Christian faith has to be seen as this kind of subversive memoria. The church gives it a public form, so to speak. In this sense, for example, the church’s doctrines and creedal formulas would have to be understood as formulas in which this challenging remembrance is spelled out publicly. The criterion for their being authentically Christian would thus be the liberating but also redemptive dangerousness with which they introduce the remembered freedom of Jesus into contemporary society, its forms of consciousness, and its life praxis.

Johann Metz, Faith in History and Society: Toward a Practical Fundamental Theology, 88-89.


One thought on “Dangerous Memory

  1. Pingback: Romero’s Death on Record « flying.farther

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