Communicative freedom? : Wolfgang Huber's critical engagement of modernity
Thesis (DTh (Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
This study is a critical evaluation of the concept „communicative freedom‟ in the work of the theologian Wolfgang Huber. It is argued that his rearticulation of the Reformation‟s understanding of freedom is a critical engagement of modernity. Communicative freedom is therefore developed as a critical Christian concept of freedom. It is shown how Huber‟s concept of communicative freedom is to be understood as a contemporary expression of classic Protestant views of freedom. In terms of the concept‟s content it is shown to stay true to some of the Reformation‟s basic theological convictions. Huber understands the concept to consist of three dimensions. It is inalienable as it is constituted by God and is therefore not the result of human achievements or abilities. The freedom that is constituted by God‟s initiative can be realised only in interpersonal relationships and therefore its inalienable dimension forms the basis of its personal dimension. Communicative freedom does not separate human individuality and sociality from one another but emphasises their shared origin. Lastly the reality of sin is incorporated into the concept by recognising the provisional nature of freedom‟s realisation. It is shown that this self-critical character of communicative freedom does not imply resignation but that Huber develops it as a call to action. It is argued that Huber does not articulate this Christian understanding of freedom as a goal in itself, but as a means by which to engage modernity. The implications of these theological dimensions of communicative freedom are then developed as both Huber‟s critical affirmation of the modernist project as well as his contribution to modernity‟s renewal. Communicative freedom serves as critical affirmation of modernity by the way in which it engages the role of the individual and the role society plays in enabling different individuals to co-exist. This concept is shown to enable the responsible realisation of freedom in the context of secularisation, democracy and pluralism. Communicative freedom also contributes to the renewal of modernity, namely by means of its reinterpretation of progress, the way it contributes to the restoration of a comprehensive form of justice and its focus on the importance of dialogue. The dissertation concludes with some comments concerning the engagement of modernity by communicative freedom from a South African perspective.