“We became courage” was one among many phrases Gerhard Servatius-Depner coined during this years conference in Sibiu. For me it is an appropriate summary of three days filled with laughter and joy, deep conversation and thoughts about theological and at the same time personal issues. I returned home full of courage and hope for the future and as a part of a European network of young theologians. Having had the chance to getting to know so many engaged theologians from different countries and churches in my age who are all interested in dialogue between church traditions was pretty unique!Continue reading “Hanna Kehrein”
My name is Benedikt Jetter.
Right on the ‘Forum Young Theology’ conference in Sibiu in 2023, I turned 34. My ecclesiastical background is the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg (Germany), where I’m serving as pastor in the region of Stuttgart. Born in the year of the fall of the Berlin wall, I feel European in the broadest and most positive sense. Still, in the last years, I have the impression, that crossing borders and linking people from differing historical, emotional and confessional contexts, is not as obvious as it might seem. There’s still a lot of relations to establish. From my civil service in France with the organization ‘Initiative Christians for Europe’, I adopted the motto ‘building bridges for Europe’. Almost everything I do, is somehow related to that, always in the perspective of the One Church of Jesus Christ transcending time & space and all human borders. Europe has become for me a fascinating ‘training area’ (referring to ‘train’ both as exercising and using the railway). Through studies abroad internships, steward programmes, conferences and work stays in different churches, I got acquainted with broad parts of the ecumenical family, where I feel spiritually at home.
I am, 26 years old from France (Strasbourg). I am studying Protestant Theology in order to become a pastor in my local Church, the Union of Protestant Churches of Alsace-Lorraine. I am really happy to be back for this new edition of Forum Young Theology 2023 with this very interesting topic of participation! As a young queer woman in my Church, it is not always easy to be heard and to feel seen and I think all our Churches have to improve themselves in their way of making a place for minorities. I look forward to discussing this issue with other young theologians and also to discovering Sibiu and the Romanian culture!”
Have a nice trip to Sibiu and see you tomorrow!
I am Marie-Luise Großmann, 26 years old and studied theology. I come from the Lutheran Church in Bavaria and would like to become a pastor in this church. Above all, I find the contacts to other churches, within and outside Germany, enriching, in order to become aware of my own tradition and identity. On the other hand, I also want to continue to strive and struggle together with others for good and perhaps even better solutions and the shaping of our faith in this world. Identity is something dynamic and needs several counterparts – Martin Buber puts it this way: “Man becomes I in the Thou”. I am enjoying the process, the encounters, the development and I am curious to see where it will take me – for now I am very happy to have been in Vienna and to help shape the (church) future with other young theologians.
I am interested in the topic of “nationalism and cosmopolitanism” because for me there is the underlying question of how we shape this world: All living beings share the earth and its resources, need some of it and ideally give some back into the cycle. So how do we divide it up? What social, cultural structure helps us do that? And what role does/can religion have? I think we definitely need boundaries in this, to have smaller sub-units that make it easier to keep track of things, keep groups together and combine forces. Borders thus have a purpose and a function; they must not become an end in themselves. Rigid nationalism no longer fulfils the constructive function of borders. Nationalism is not enough, I think, to form an identity – there needs to be an unifying element at the same time. That’s where the Christian faith comes into play for me. It enables us to see the world as creation and integrates us as human beings into it. How we, supported by the Christian faith, can have a say in society and world events, how we can stand up for democracy and diversity and how encounters can happen across borders is what interests me in this topic and I’m very excited to have met young people, share ideas and ultimately give shape to and celebrating our reconciled diversity. I hope to continue doing so by being part of the Forum Young Theology.
My Name is Alexander, i am 24 years old and I am studying Protestant Theology. My Church is the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Bavaria. During my studies in Neuendettelsau, Tübingen, Ecumenical Institute of Bossey and Leipzig I raised a lot of different experiences about being a Christian in this world and having different contexts. Currently I am preparing for my final exams in autumn and after them I want to become a pastor in my church. Trough all crisis of society and churches I am convinced that the message of the gospel leads us to live our faith out in a joyful way. In my free time I appreciated to play football, meet friends and helping at my family’s vinery.
What I think about the topic?
The ambiguity of nationalism and cosmopolitanism is an ongoing question in the different countries in our world. Some people and states emphasis (strongly) their national identity connected to language, culture etc., while others shape their identity more open and cosmopolite to everyone. Thinking about this two terms is urgently needed in our times, while the nationalist/national movements increase in the different countries of their and are risking the way to stay in a worldwide community. Personally its important for me to come from Franconia/Bavaria, especially in comparison to the rest of Germany, and I am a Christian with Lutheran confession. But it’s my context and does not prevent me to meet other people from different contexts and to celebrate services and build up Christian community. Being a Christian is more essential for me than other things. My Question’s to the conference are, how different churches, Christians and theologians are acting between the points of nationalism and cosmopolitanism. And also: How we as Christians can contribute to this topic.
What I take home?
As Christians, who are living in different contexts and have different identities more or less shaped by national/cosmopolite ideas, we are challenged every time when we work ecumenical and meet our brothers and sisters. There is our national origin we cannot deny, but when we are together in community with Jesus Christ, our identity, which is also Christian, we have to learn to overcome everything, which is us separating from our community with god. Because our Churches more or less focus on this national identity, young theologians like us have to work on it and try to provide a way of reconciliation towards a Christian identity, where national/cosmopolite contexts play a role, but not are dominating our christian hearts. Essential for this is the experience of community like in this conference, which is dismounting stereotypes and exclusive narratives between us as Europeans and Christians. Through the conference I developed my understanding of the European Protestant Churches and it opened for me another way of having ecumenical relations to my brothers and sister with their specific (national/cosmopolite) contexts/identities.
An identity is not the individual “art project” of the ego. A person’s identity – and thus also my identity – is formed through relations. Being a person is not the dialectical becoming of a thinking substance surrounded by material substance, but rather being is both individual and one as consciousness unfolding in and through relations. Identity is found in mutual love, respect, empowerment and encouragement and is perverted through the lack of these. Apart from truth, goodness, beauty and love one cannot find one’s identity. We learn this through the mirror of trinitarian relations.
National identity is an abstraction of the common features of certain relations individuals appreciate. However, my concern with nationalism is that it is a rigid concept, which extrapolates a Freudian ego-project to a larger scale and neglects a certain fluidity and dynamic plurality of identity. The second issue I have with the concept is that the idea of pure self-determination or self- governance of a nation (and an individual for that matter) is an illusion of the ideal of Kantian autonomy and a problematic concept of freedom as simple freedom of choice. Not only is nationalism in tension with the trinitarian idea of personhood, but when fused with Christianity, it creates a community uncapable of communications, cooperation, mission and true relation of reciprocal love with anyone outside the group. It is the uncertainty of one’s identity and the fear of losing one’s self that fuels nationalism. Any talk of national virtue or a “nations’ sin” distorts the core Christian doctrines of original sin and the efficacy of Christ’s salvation for the whole creation. Through the example of the Lutheran Churches in Myanmar I have seen that these nationalist Churches have no future. I strongly believe this same applies to a community of people as a “nation”.