Gerd Luedemann, Secularist

Gerd Luedemann, who recently took Pope Benedict XVI to task for taking Scripture seriously, responds to April DeConick’s call for posts about Athens and Jerusalem by acknowledging he has completely surrendered to Athens. His contribution is a repost of a piece he wrote a couple of years ago, “Why I’m a Secularist.”

However it may disenchant the world, true objectivity means relinquishing the canonicity or sacredness of particular writings, any claims to a revelation, and all distinctions between orthodoxy and heresy except those found in historical discourse. This same even-handedness outlaws dogmatic and theological judgments unsupported by empirical evidence, and refuses to deal with questions of religious truth except to compare different truth claims. …

Therefore petitionary prayer by academic theologians amounts to self-betrayal. As Huck Finn says, “You can’t pray a lie.” Still, though excluded from the ranks of true believers, we can be religious spirits without religion, hoping by critical secularism to make the world a better place.