Chapter 9 Populism, Christianity, and the Role of the Theologian

In: The Spirit of Populism
Author:
Mattias Martinson
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Abstract

This chapter addresses the role of academic theologians challenged by contemporary right-wing populism. Populism is defined as an elitist anti-elitism, based on ‘the people.’ Exploring examples from Sweden and Hungary, Mattias Martinson argues that the ugly utilization of Christianity by right-wing populists is ultimately a post-Christian phenomenon in the sense that it has very little to do with the multifaceted historical and contemporary phenomenon of Christianity, but becomes possible as an effect of the general decline of mainstream Christianity in Europe. This utilization of Christianity by right-wing populism calls for a post-Christian theological strategy, gaining new theological insights by taking seriously the forceful dialectics of a secular society and a strong Christian heritage. Against the background of this dialectics, theology may develop into a profoundly open discourse, in which the many religious heritages that we encounter in today’s Europe can become included.

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The Spirit of Populism

Political Theologies in Polarized Times

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