chapter  3
18 Pages

From a pagan theologia civilis in Rome to a fictitious political theology in Kant

Epochal metamorphoses of a theological underlay of political thought
WithMartin Moors

Throughout its history, the project of a political theology has adopted as its ground-principle a capricious conception of Logos (on God) that time after time defined in political terms its function for the establishment of (an idea of) civitas. Furthermore, each period in the history of theology set out its always provisional coordinates of thought from wherein any of its engagements with politics borrowed its proper justification of truth. In our inquiry, three historic specimina of political theology are selected in order to show how variable coordinates of thought contextualized three different arguments for, firstly, bringing god(s) into a functional connection with politics, and, secondly, to argumentatively justify this function. Respectively, the Logos “at work” in the Roman theologia civilis was directly sanctioned by a civil “rule of Law.” In the patristic and scholastic era, the Logos of a political theology was dominated by a Christo-Logos, sanctioned by Revelation. In this sense, Augustine’s De Civitate Dei will be a milestone for a millenary history. Finally, in the Age of Enlightenment, Kant constructed an argument on a completely revolutionary basis. In his Doctrine of Right and his Religion-book, namely, he brought to light how on “subjectively logical grounds” an idea of God as Obligator is necessary “as if” by this (fictitious) idea the categorical constraint of “duties of Right” ‒ from which he derived the definition of politics ‒ received a peremptory basis of truth. As a general conclusion, we state, first, that the livability of the project itself of a political theology is a highly questionable issue as it brings its doctrinal principle ‒ Logos ‒ in trouble with itself by confusing two finalities of its engagement. However, secondly, given the assumption that for this reason there does not persist any peremptory doctrinal logos on God that can regulate or justify a political logos to sustain the formation and functioning of a political body, there can certainly always be put to work a protreptic logos. The latter pertains to religious belief and provides as firm a justifying basis as any theological doctrine would claim, to engage in the affairs of the State obeying, namely, the biblical commandment “give back to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Mt 22, 21)