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Comparisons – Coalitions – Critiques
Editor-in-Chief: Ulrich Schmiedel
Political and Public Theologies: Comparisons – Coalitions – Critiques seeks to provide a forum for critical and constructive engagements with the significance of theologies for the public square. Connecting the increasingly interdisciplinary fields of political and public theology, the series is interested in the impact that theologies have on public issues and the impact that public issues have on theologies, both theoretically and practically. PPT invites publications from established and emerging scholars that engage with the significance of theologies for the public square from (1) comparative angles that facilitate inter-religious studies, (2) coalitional angles that foster inter-religious solidarities, and (3) critical angles that re-formulate theology as a resource for contemporary controversies. PPT is published in cooperation with the Centre for Theology and Public Issues (CTPI), University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


Studies scrutinizing the significance of religion for populism are still scarce, but one metaphor has been adopted across almost all of them—the metaphor of the hijacked faith. This chapter sketches the nexus between metaphor and method in the study of populism, before it introduces the contributions to this compilation. Ulrich Schmiedel suggest that there are structural similarities between populist references to religion and the study of populist references to religion. A logic that can be traced back to Carl Schmitt lurks in the distinction between the legitimate and the illegitimate ownership of ‘religion’ that is drawn by the metaphor of the hijacked faith. There is a political theology in populism. This political theology needs to be interrogated, both in populism and in scholarship on populism, because it contains normative assumption that secretly structure both analyses and assessments of politics.

In: The Spirit of Populism


As of 1 June 2018, the symbol of the cross has to be shown in all state offices of Bavaria in Germany. In order to chart the churches’ reaction, I return to a conversation that Robert N. Bellah and Martin E. Marty had during the 1960s and the 1970s. Drawing on the core concepts of this conversation, I analyze and assess today’s cross controversy as a case of what I call the ‘populist predicament’. I argue that Marty’s programme of public theology provides a path out of the populist predicament because it combines the celebration and the critique of identity. Ultimately, I advocate for a pluralist position of public theology in the post-migrant context.

In: International Journal of Public Theology

Churches are in crisis. The turn to praxis in ecclesiology appears to attend to the current crisis; yet, the appearance might be deceptive. Since post-liberal ecclesiologies – such as John Milbank’s – consider neither quantitative-empirical nor qualitative-empirical accounts of concrete churches, the turn might be assessed as a turn to talk about praxis instead of a turn to praxis. Confronting Milbank’s concept of praxis with the ecclesiology of Ernst Troeltsch (1865–1923), I argue that Troeltsch allows for accounts of concrete churches since he conceptualises the identity of Christianity not as a proposition but as a project. Hence, praxis is the criterion for the evaluation of concepts of identity. Both churches and reflections on churches are to be ‘elasticised’ in order to attend to the current crisis.

In: Ecclesial Practices
Political Theologies in Polarized Times
Volume Editors: Ulrich Schmiedel and Joshua Ralston
Populism is a buzzword. This compilation explores the significance of religion for the controversies stirred up by populist politics in European and American contexts in order to understand what lies behind the buzz. Engaging Jewish, Christian, and Islamic political thought and theology, contributions by more than twenty established and emerging scholars explore right-wing and left-wing protests, offering critical interpretations and creative interventions for a polarized public square. Both methodologically and thematically, the compilation moves beyond essentialist definitions of religion, encouraging a comparative approach to political theology today.

Ulrich Schmiedel and Joshua Ralston discuss their book on Brill's Humanities Matter podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.
In: The Spirit of Populism
In: The Spirit of Populism
In: The Spirit of Populism