chapter  10
14 Pages

Troeltsch’s “Political Ethics and Christianity”: The Case for Hierarchy 1

ByConstance L. Benson

In 1904 Ernst Troeltsch set forth his political ethics in a programmatic essay entitled, "Political Ethics and Christianity". Troeltsch focuses on his third and fourth types, and views Christianity as a synthesis of the two, arguing that the Christian political ethic contains both a democratic and a conservative or aristocratic thrust. Christian ethics is in no position to determine fundamental political values and structures, but is to humanize what is already established. Since its sphere is purely inward and attitudinal, it has only an indirect bearing upon political ethics. The double standard involved in Troeltsch's use of "politics" becomes glaring in the partisan logical conclusion he draws from his political ethic. Like many conservatives, however, Troeltsch labels support for the political status quo as "independence" from politics, and reserves the term "political" for those clergy who oppose established leaders and policies.