How is God greater than Gods?

During our bishops' conferences we keep coming back to God. This time, however, this should not only apply to the various divine services, the Eucharistic celebrations and the Liturgy of the Hours, but also to this opening lecture. For many months I have been tackling this topic among the twelve opening presentations that I have given since 1987.

So it arose completely independently of the serious questions of the regulation of the pregnancy conflict counseling centers. But I have long had the often agonizing question of whether, in view of the social and political challenges that the Church has to deal with, and in the midst of many internal church problems, we are increasingly pushing the crucial question into the background: the question of God. Sometimes I get the impression that it is being suppressed by the many topics we deal with. The more visible our institutions become, the more invisible God himself becomes. In doing so, we all came first and foremost only to give him honor first. We are promised that everything else will be given to us. Again and again I hear the Lord say to us today as he did with Martha and Maria: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled a lot. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better, that should not be taken from her." (Lk 10.41f.)

This is not just true of people outside the church. It applies to all of us and becomes a kind of fundamental examination of conscience. This is all the more necessary when we ask ourselves at the turn of the millennium about the priorities of church activity.

So we ask about God as fundamentally as possible. Now we are only there for him. I mean this in the sense of the Russian writer Sinyavsky: "One shouldn't believe out of old habit, not out of fear of death, not just in case, not because someone forces us, not because of humanistic principles, not because of the soul to save or to be original. Believe for the simple reason that there is God. "

In recent years there have been new approaches to the question of God worth considering in many disciplines, both in terms of the philosophy of religion and theology. This is especially true for the theology of the Trinity. Of course, in the context of this presentation, I can only address a few selected perspectives that appear to me to be important.

I. Man's insatiable hunger for fulfillment
Classical philosophy and theology could largely presuppose what the word "God" meant. So Thomas Aquinas can say succinctly when describing the ways to God, i.e. the so-called proofs of God, after explaining, for example, an immobile mover or a final cause of the target: "Quod omnes dicunt Deum" (S.th.I qu.2 art .3c.). We can certainly no longer formulate the difficult transition in such a succinct way. This requires a number of intellectual steps, to which we will come back in detail (cf. on the subject of N. Fischer, The philosophical question of God = Amateca 2, Paderborn 1995).

A crucial starting point is the question of people. In my opinion, this is primarily about the metaphysical disposition of humans in general. The structure of humans is different from the findings in other living beings. We have long spoken in anthropology of the fact that animals have a largely innate, but certainly also acquired, security in dealing with the milieu in which they live. At the same time, instinctual security limits the animal to its environment. Man is much less determined by such drives and tendencies, which of course are also active in him. He is therefore fundamentally a being of openness to the world. This openness to the world means, however, for human life that, within this broad horizon, they are exposed to more diverse dangers and that they are also unhoused. His strength is also his weakness. He has lost the security of nature. For him, nature is more of a challenge to take over and shape himself and his existence. In this sense, the human being is a task he has set himself, from which he must not and cannot escape. That is why his essence is closely related to the design of his freedom. This is what makes it risky. In order to arrive at his self-interpretation, man must be conscious of himself.

This open-mindedness and indeterminacy of his nature gives people the necessity to look again and again to find out how they can best realize themselves. That is why he has to keep asking Kant's question: What can I know? What should I do? What can I hope for? This expresses the finitude of humans in a very special way, because only a finite being is his own ability, should and may appear questionable. Ultimately, however, a person can search for the truth on his own initiative, but cannot finally find it. If he wants to meet the moral standards on his own, he always comes across ignorance and weakness. He cannot find the fulfilled tranquility of a successful life he is looking for, at least not completely in terms of content and binding for everyone. We know Augustine's word that man has a restless heart that does not reach a goal in himself. In any case, through the strength of his own nature, man essentially recognizes himself as a restlessly searching spirit. This search, which has repeatedly become insecure due to the factual situation, does not find a reliable hold in itself or in the finite world. People tend to stumble in a constant lack of stability, because they are always looking for a new fulfillment of their restlessness. So man is a being of hope who is stretched out to a highest perfect good, but which he cannot achieve with his own strength. So there is an insatiable striving and desire of man for perfection, which also points to an infinite power, but he cannot achieve this perfection by his own strength. At most he can approach it asymptotically or in an instant. In action, people experience these limits much more strongly. It was especially M. Blondel who pointed out the incurable disproportion between the impulse of will and the human goal of action. Blondel therefore defines man as a being who is dependent on the fulfillment of his infinite striving from outside. This goal is therefore unavailable and is compared to a gift. Blondel uses the even broader and more open concept of the supernatural for this. For him this is at the same time "absolutely impossible and at the same time absolutely necessary" (cf. Action, 388). So man cannot finally release the tension that is in himself.

This shows the paradoxical nature of man. He finds no fulfillment in the world. None of the possible answers appearing in the horizon of the questioner ever gives him satisfaction. This repeatedly brings people to the decision of how to use this paradoxical system. He can suppress his insatiable longing, but then easily falls back into the animal dimensions in that he is content with the fulfillment of his instincts. But since these offer no real fulfillment, he often takes refuge in the repetition of a substitute fulfillment. This develops all too easily into an addiction from which he can hardly find his way out. But he can also try to fulfill his unsteady nature by restlessly looking for happiness in the finite, always looking for a different fulfillment as in changing fashions. This results in a constant increase in what is ultimately an unfulfilled search, which in the end often leads to disappointment, frustration, and even disgust. Our consumer world, which constantly increases needs and creates them anew, has something of this bad infinity into which people lose themselves.

II. The essence of man as a transcendent event
This brief analysis shows that man has given himself up as a transcendent being. Of course, one can accept the lack of perfection and the impetus to transcend as a fact, but without seeing in it a reference to a completely different, "otherworldly" perfection. The transcendent thinking of man reveals his questionability. One takes away man's character and distinction when one takes him in his infinite hunger, which can of course be perverted in a substitute satisfaction. So much seems ambivalent. In the distractions of human existence, a fundamental "unrest" (Heidegger: worry) of the human being hides and reports itself. He experiences the inaccessibility of his ability to be and at the same time the inescapable claim through a fulfillment: "Man infinitely transcends man" (B. Pascal)

The question about God and belief in God require as an essential prerequisite that man accept this transcendent movement. Often it has flattened out under the conditions of a high degree of secularization and gets stuck in the finite realm. One renounces the risk of letting go of an as yet unknown, invisible reality, fears parting from earthly things as the final fulfillment and looks for this e.g. in inner-worldly progress, in the accumulation of riches and in ever new experiences. Our real world can almost bewitch us with its glitter and its fascination, its constantly new charm and the countless expectations. Therefore, in our daily life there is often a secret closeness to the real restlessness of our minds and hearts. We close the roofs over our heads because we fear and avoid the real restlessness of our mind with the uncertainty and the risk of searching.

But it is also possible that this transcending leaves itself to a constant movement that does not want to know any goal. E. Bloch speaks again and again of "transcending without transcendence". If the place for arriving at a destination remains completely indefinite or even empty, it is a matter of fiction, a utopia or a realm of illusion, which is often associated with intoxication, dreams or drugs. One can call this an "empty transcendence" which is and remains meaningless. But it is also possible to move this transcending completely into the future without transcendence and to relate the fulfillment progressively-critically to a society freed from alienation. This transcending then strives for an active world change that does not want to adapt to the "existing" or lose itself in it. This can also be accompanied by the "principle of hope", which means a futuristic transcending. It is then no coincidence that in such conceptual designs the death of man is something completely incomprehensible on which thinking is stranded.

These considerations show that transcending human beings cannot simply be reinterpreted in terms of the future. The timeline cannot fully capture what is meant by "transcendence", even if it is interpreted as an "absolute future" or as a future approaching us from the front (while the purely human future would be a design of future possibilities by humans; Difference between "futurum" and "adventus" to translate the future). The various drafts of a political theology or a liberation theology often remain deeply ambiguous at this point.

It is of course also possible that the aim of such a fulfillment of transcending is structured differently. Because it is not uncommon for not a few people to strive for the realization of a good that demands unconditional validity and also does not allow any restrictive conditions. In this sense we can speak of absolute instances, the ultimate justification of which is an untimely, extra-worldly, invisible ground, namely, representing something absolute or at least participating in it. Such an instance is then "beyond" earthly partial goals or internal historical instrumentalizations. These can be, for example, "values" such as "justice", "freedom", "solidarity", individual human rights, etc. These ideals must be realized.

So in the process of transcending there is something like stations that do not yet include a final fulfillment, but nevertheless require unconditional validity. I once called these absolute instances first names for the still hidden reality of God. You cannot stay with this "intermediate instance" for a long time, because somehow it turns out to be conditional or not attainable. Finally, there must be a transcendence into a final justification that simply exceeds all human powers, is absolutely independent of the world and rests in itself, i.e. is not subject to any dependency and remains unavailable itself. One can consider a distinction between classical philosophy and theology, namely that there is a "fundamentum proximum" and a "fundamentum ultimum" for the establishment of fundamental ethical commandments and imperatives.

Certainly this transcending to an absolute authority, which mostly consists of an unconditional moral challenge, nameless, abstract and almost neutral. However, it cannot be denied that such ideals are pursued with great passion and often with great willingness to make sacrifices. Of course, they can slide off quickly if, for example, "justice" is ultimately only realized for certain strata, races or classes. This shows the fragility and vulnerability of these intermediate instances. They urge to find a final foundation and rescue, to get a guarantor, as it were, who guarantees their inviolable validity and their unconditional claim.

Usually at this point one passes over to God quite abruptly, yes, one often does not distinguish between these absolute intermediate instances from the divine God. This has to do with the fact that the concept of transcendence is intrinsically complex and by no means as clear as we often feel. That is why in a new attempt it must be said again what it means when we say: And everyone calls this ultimate reason God.

III Concepts of God in New Religions
But what is meant by "God" is not so self-evident in view of the history of the idea of ​​God and its general use today. In terms of religious history, this seems to be a truism. But even the Christian faith, which has a firm certainty of its truth in itself, has had to deal with this ambiguity again and again in the past and present.

Thus one can only fully grasp the great danger of Arianism for the early Church's faith in Christ if one realizes that in Middle Platonism, which represented a great cultural power, the idea of ​​God was tiered. There was God as such and finally at a corresponding distance, but God belonging to the sphere of God in the sense of the "second God". The statements of the New Testament about the submission of the Son to the Father and about this relationship of obedience seemed to be reflected very well by this conception of God. So it was not only at the Council of Nikaia, but also a bitter struggle for over 50 years to clarify the concept of God with the position of Jesus Christ. Our Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople still clearly shows us the traces of this conflict today, when it is conveyed there to clarify all times that we believe: "In the one Lord Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, born of the Father before all times: God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not created, of one being with the Father; through him everything was created. "

Obviously, such dangers are not averted once and for all if these various temptations are not simply repeated. Today "God" is often found in a radical anthropological turn. The new religiosity believes that it will create new approaches to it. This goes back to the theosophy of the last century. Man recognizes himself as the eternal, imperishable self (Theos) in all appearances of the universe. This development of the self leads, as it were, along the spiritual experience and tradition of humanity from a divine germ to perfection. Divinity rests in the human being and unfolds in an evolutionary way through the guidance of the various teachers of humanity, among whom the "Master Jesus" ranks as one of many. Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy also contains many such elements, which we will not return to here. There is no doubt that these theosophical approaches are, as it were, the basic pattern and matrix of the new religious awakenings of the 20th century. I only mention the representatives of the New Age, but also Fritjof Capra in his book "Wendezeit" (building blocks for a new worldview, Bern 1983). In the end, the deity is nothing more than "the self-organization dynamic of the entire cosmos" (Wendezeit, 324).

There are similar but different developments when today an attempt is made to fill a new paganism with fresh life. For example, Christianity appears in the "pagan community" founded in Berlin as the religion of contempt for nature and destruction. With recourse to the pagan nature gods, God is now recognized and worshiped in the trees and in the nature spirits.The personal image of God in the Judeo-Christian tradition is often replaced. "Life, which is completed in a spiral shape upwards, is the organic fabric with cosmic dimensions in which the human being only forms a small cell. In this shift in the religious image of God, the cultural shifts in the desired paradigm shift in postmodern spirituality become immediately visible. In turning away from." an objective character of religious experience, access to this new image of God is only possible through the subjective experience and ability of the individual to experience. The experience of health, mediated through the various body therapies, gains salvific value as the experience of the striving life force. The message lies in life itself; life is salvation, life is God. " (M. Fuß, New Gods for a New Time? Concepts of God in New Religions, in: Questions about God, ed. V. M. Strocka, Frankfurt 1996, 35-58, quotation 47) One can speak of a bioecentric image of God here. Incidentally, it is only permitted to point out that the Scientology sect also represents similar ideas ("thetan" as a universal life force).

The Italian religious scholar R. Pettazzoni speaks of "theoplasm" and means a kind of modeling clay from which today's man forms his gods and tries to adapt them to changing needs. The sociologists speak in a similar way of a "handicraft biography", which in the different phases of life from different religious kits is each put together a new image of God. It is quite astonishing to what extent new religious movements are shaped by such aspects worldwide (cf. M. Fuß, Think Global, Act Local. Religious Theological Considerations on New Religious Movements, in: Ordenskorrespondenz 1, 1996, 72-86). Much does not appear to be a new world religion that has a uniform name and a formative founder figure, but the orientation towards a vital deity of life combined with the modern self-experience of people is like a kind of network that links many heterogeneous groups with one another. The individual images of God are still widely named with a Judeo-Christian language, but in fact this God appears again and again in a multitude of new sensory experiences and many parallel niches in modern subculture. It is characteristic that these images of God are not connected to one another, but rather come syncretistically from all religious traditions of the world in a diffuse religiosity. It is a self-related belief that does not belong to the word of a divine "you", but is the echo of one's own calling into the world. "The search for holistic security is about the right technique of personal self-realization. The breaking up of an elementary, cosmic religiosity, which is directly connected with 'life', leads to a very vital image of God in the context of personal considerations of usefulness of the 'here and now' . The objective source of all being becomes a mixture of instances of subjective happiness. The potentiation of the elementary life force explains the coincidence of salvation and health in modern groups of experience. " (M. Fuß, New Gods for a New Era ?, 53)

How much the tradition is distorted here can be seen in what is usually called "transcendence", but is now more often also called "transgression" (K. Hutten). The search for God goes beyond a purely materialistic view of the world into an invisible, profound depth, but this remains a part of our universe. Here is a radical difference to the biblical and classical image of God: "The God of the new religiosity is self-fulfillment of the cosmos. At the heart of the three Abramitic religions, on the other hand, remains that God is neither absorbed in the self-dynamics of the universe nor in the self-realization capacity of man, but as a 'person'. faces this world in innocent freedom and love, although he is creatively present in nature and cosmos. " (M. Fuß, Neue Götter für ein neue Zeit ?, 54) In this context it becomes clear in a new way that the orientation crisis of our present is in fact a "God crisis" (J. B. Metz).

IV. Fundamental characteristics of the biblical understanding of God
This certainly very brief summary has made it clear why one has to remain critical when dealing with the word "God". In doing so, we must be aware that the word God is already burdened by history in many ways. I like to quote a word from M. Buber, namely from the work "Divine Eclipse" published in 1953. There it says impressively: "Yes ... it is the most laden of all human words. None of them has been so tainted, so tattered. That is precisely why I cannot do without it. The generations of men have shifted the burden of their fearful life onto this word and it pressed to the ground; it lies in the dust and bears all of their burdens. The families of men with their religious parties have torn the word; they have killed and died for it; it bears the fingerprints of all of them and all of them blood. Where could I find a word that it was like him, to designate the highest! ... Certainly, they (men) draw grimaces and write 'God' underneath, they murder one another and say 'in God's name.' But when all delusion and deceit fall apart, when They face him in the loneliest darkness and no longer say 'He, He', but rather 'You, you' sigh, 'You' scream, they all have one thing, and when they then add 'God', it is not the real God, that they all call, d he a living one, the god of human children ?! Isn't it he who hears them? Who - hears them? And is it not precisely because of this that the word 'God', the word of the call, the word that has become a name in all human languages, consecrated for all time? We must respect those who frown upon it because they rebel against the injustice and mischief who so gladly appeal to the empowerment of 'God'; but we are not allowed to reveal it. How easy it is to understand that some propose to keep silent about the 'last things' for a while, so that the abused words may be redeemed! But they cannot be redeemed in this way. We cannot cleanse the word 'God' and we cannot make it whole; but we can, tainted and torn as it is, raise it from the ground and straighten it up for over an hour of great care. "(Werke I, Munich, Heidelberg 1962, 509f.)

This text makes you prick up your ears and forces us at least to reflect on the use of the word God. I would like to mention the following perspectives:
The word "God" is used linguistically only meaningfully in close association with the question of the meaning of reality as a whole.

The question of God will often ignite with individual events and may not always bring with it the extreme horizons of the beginning and end of the world. Today, the question of God is primarily located in the area of ​​the human search for meaning. But the word "God" must not be limited to just one goal of my spiritual movement. It is certainly also the change and transformation of my understanding. But it is not just a moment in my self-image. Certain individual and collective subjectivizations of the idea of ​​God are incompatible with the concept of the absolute or the real rulership of God over the world. Scripture always sees a connection between man, the world and God. This does not mean a relapse into a cosmo-theological way of thinking that obscures the personality and freedom of God. "God" aims at the existence of man and through him at the world. In the correctly posed question of God, the search for God has always been mediated by world reality, be it in the mode of a negative answer, as we hear again and again from Augustine: The world answers that it is not God. In this sense, all statements about God say something about the basic context and meaning of the word "God" for the world. An understanding of God without this consequence for the knowledge and the salvation of the world would misunderstand itself.

The word "God" demands and promises a final, indissoluble unity of meaning and being, claim and "mightiness".

If the thought is faded only to a purely mental moment, it is not sufficient for the question of God. R. Spaemann pointed this out some time ago and brought it to mind again and again (cf. in: Who is that - God ?, edited by HJ Schultz, Munich 1969, 56-65; Das immortliche Rumor, in: Merkur, Asking about God About the Religious, special issue 605/606, Sept./Oct., Stuttgart 1999, 772-783; see also K. Lehmann, Kirchliche Dogmatik und biblisches Gottesbild, in: Diefrage nach Gott, edited by J . Ratzinger, Freiburg 1973, 116-140; in this section I am following my own explanations in a modified form). It is absolutely necessary to understand "God" as a moral challenge and a meaningful claim. God is radically more and very different from the existing. Nor is it simply an ingredient in what is already there. "God" does in fact mean a completely new meaning that is not yet given with facticity. In the first part we talked about basic words like "peace", "humanity" etc. as first names for God. If they do not go beyond themselves and find the true name of God, it remains of course a substitute. But "God" is not just a sign of hope for our expectations. The word God is not just a code for our protest either. The word "God" loses its decisive meaning if it has no effective reference to nature and human reality, which is inhuman, peaceless, futureless and unjust. If God is thought to be unrelated to the reality of the world, then he is radically powerless. The power of the moral sense would then be nothing more than postulate and longing.

Robert Spaemann has already pointed out earlier that the Old Testament complaint presupposes that "God" is an ultimate unity of meaning and being, better still of being good and power. God is only God if the salvific might and power of salvation correspond to the moral claim on the same level. You can only complain to a God whom you can call to help.

The transcendence of God can only be understood when his presence and nearness in the world are recognized at the same time.

God is the origin of freedom, who calls us out of being integrated into what is available. He is a time-superior power that is not tied to anything and yet ties everything to itself. In this sense he also overcomes all national and particular viewpoints. It is superior in terms of time, but at the same time it is powerful in history.

A God in the beyond would not be God because he would not be in control of the world. Christian theology catches up the strict transcendent statements of antiquity again and again by contradicting immanence statements: God embraces and transcends everything, yet he is more in ourselves than our own innermost being. The unavailability, freedom and historical power of the biblical image of God finally takes shape into the full concept of personality, which means closeness, accessibility and callability. The presence of the unconditioned shows itself in the conditioned. The omnipresence of God at the same time requires that he be independent of everything and not just cling to what exists. "The Christian experience of God has only been understood by those who recognize that God's present-sidedness is his turning to the world, his presence in the world through the power of love, the this-sidedness of his transcendence, the dawn of God's future." (W. Pannenberg, How can one talk about God credibly today ?, in: Gottesfrage heute, Stuttgart 1969, 51-64, quote 63)

The biblical God breaks the concept of the absolute in the conventional sense through his personhood.

The ancient God is blessed only in relation to himself. That is why the gods are silent. Your divinity grows with the distance from the world. That God in general establishes a relationship to something other than himself is what is absolutely new in the Christian idea of ​​God. It is no longer about the total seclusion of those who only need themselves and stand in themselves. The fact that God establishes a relationship means a tremendous inner transformation of the idea of ​​God, which perhaps up to this day has not yet been adequately thought out in theology. This possibility and reality of the relationship is fulfilled in the self-communication of his love. At the end of this transformation there is the scriptural phrase "God is love" (1 Jn 4: 8). Someone once stated that this sentence turns a hinge in the doorway of world history. Because ancient experience could not say this sentence, but would rather make "love" the subject: love is a kind of deity.

God is only God if he is also the judge of the world and of humanity, before whom we must lay responsibility with fear and trembling.

This sentence can be frightening. Indeed, the judgment motif and "fear of God" have often been fatally misused in tradition. It is not uncommon for fear and horror to be generated that have darkened the image of God. The topic is broad and can only be briefly hinted at here (see M. Reiser, The Judgment Sermon Jesu, Münster 1990; World Judgment and World Perfection, edited by H.-J. Klauck, Freiburg 1994). It cannot be overlooked, however, that in our time - understandably as a counter-reaction - the pendulum has swung so that one only sees the loving and reconciling God, whom one only approaches in trust. This is fundamentally correct. However, if one exaggerates this thought and eliminates the fear of God and judgment, then one belittles the true greatness of God at the same time. Ultimately, only God himself can completely differentiate between good and bad. If we delete the idea of ​​judgment, we not only take away from God some of his sovereignty, but also the seriousness of our actions from ourselves. The court has to do with the responsibility of the human being. Faith also includes actions that are accountable for before God's judgment. Anger and mercy are signs of God's commitment to man and the world. This has little to do with a threatening message, because it is not about hammering in feelings of fear and guilt, but about the seriousness of the action and the responsibility of the deed of life.

The same applies to the fear of God. It draws our attention to the fact that we finite human beings are aware of our limits. In fear we also feel that we must not overtax ourselves, but rather, in fear of the glory and superiority of God, we know about fallibility and the threat to humanity. In the fear of God man loses all presumption towards God, he recognizes his creatureliness and also knows that God has arranged life and creation together with his instructions for us better than we could on our own. The fear of God is so closely related to the reverence, which applies not only to the holy God, but also, for example, the holiness and inviolability of human life and the integrity and protection of creation.

It then still remains true that God is a merciful judge and we humans cannot imagine the divine synthesis of justice and love, judgment and mercy that God alone can create.

There are still some structures of godliness that have to be considered. But this is not possible here. I am thinking, for example, of the statements about God the Father and problems that have been given us even more strongly since feminist theology.

V. God in the sphere of the sacred and access to it
All of these perspectives and structures are necessary in order to speak of God in the proper way. But they are not enough. This becomes evident above all when we make it clear to ourselves that man cannot fully know God by himself, but that the knowledge of God is bestowed upon us primarily through his own manifestation. There is such a showing of God, not only in the sense of the historical revelation of the Old and New Testaments, but God himself sets out on the way to people so that we can understand him at all. Otherwise fear and horror might actually overwhelm us.

If this is so, then the question arises all the more, how God shows himself to us and in what way he makes himself known to us. We must not classify it under the present modes of finite things known to us, such as we find a stone or perceive plants and see animals. God comes his way. There is now a special category for this, which has been researched in various ways in this century without a generally applicable conclusion being recognizable. It is about the thinking of the sacred (for history and systematics see B. Casper et al., Reflection on the Holy, Freiburg 1966; The Discussion of the Holy, edited by C. Colpe, Darmstadt 1977; J. Splett, Die Rede vom Heiligen, Freiburg / Munich 1973, 2nd edition 1985; R. Schaeffler, Religion and Critical Consciousness, Freiburg 1973; in addition many writings from the school of Bernhard Weltes and Klaus Hemmerle).

This question about the special mode of appearance of God, which was mainly addressed by R.Otto (Das Heilige, Breslau 1917, Munich 1947, etc.) following Isa 6,1ff. has been unfolded, sees in the sacred a tense contradiction and unity, namely the terrifying and rather repulsive moment that creates distance ("mysterium tremendum"). In contrast to this, but also in unity, there is more the fascinating, attractive moment of the sacred, which in its own way creates closeness and encouragement. One can easily discover judgment and grace in this basic phenomenon of the sacred. The sacred has also been called the numinosum, which, of course, must not be called irrational.

When man approaches the sacred, he must change his thinking. It cannot be about direct access that cannot leave anything "sacred" and that wants to question everything. Thinking does not have to place conditions on the sacred, but the sacred places them on thinking. Thinking must detach itself from disposing and grasping; it must first "let it be", release. It is not a question of one's own power of disposal, which is deeply inherent in the modern concept of reason, but there must also be a receiving, accepting, in this sense perceptive understanding. Only this abandoned thinking is able to perceive the rising of the sacred. Such thinking always also knows that what it sees owes to someone else. When one turns to God, one must first allow him to come in his own glory (cf. here the multi-volume theological aesthetic "Glory" by Hans Urs von Balthasar). That is why the immediacy of the encounter, the releasing approach, gratitude and listening understanding are necessary in this new style of thinking. Thus the knowledge of the sacred is always closely connected with the need to repent. The classic key text of Isa 6 again shows that here it is always necessary to first renew and cleanse the eyes.

It is not only the object side that is important, but also the way in which it is heard. We are used to saying that we take in everything according to the capacity and type of the recipient ("omne quod recipitur, ad modum recipientis recipitur"). But this alone is not enough, because the recipient has to respect his own sovereignty and inalienable sovereignty, the Bible speaks in all languages ​​of "glory" (kabod, doxa, gloria). Without such a letting go, there is no real understanding of the sacred. Phenomenology speaks here of a correspondence between the "noema" and the "noesis". We can easily bring this closer to ourselves in the interrelation between divine epiphany and human eye, between divine word and human ear. Only eyes illuminated by God ("eyes of faith") can grasp the reality of God. There is no noetic moment without a noematic moment specifically belonging to it (cf. E. Husserl, Ideas for a pure phenomenology and phenomenological philosophy I, Haag 1950, 232). This correspondence relationship is mutual. Both are given in their original way and assigned to one another. In this sense, phenomenology in particular, which brings something to perception as it is by itself (without us invading it with our concepts), has made an essential contribution to the discovery and development of the sacred as a special sphere in which the divine God only becomes accessible.

VI. Prayer as a medium of religious language
These considerations still require a final step, which can now, however, also be better understood. If one considers a correspondence of content and act, noema and noesis to be particularly important in considering God, the question arises as to which approaches are most important and most appropriate.

There are many ways of knowing the sacred and the divine. In the meantime we have learned that a religious phenomenon is recognized in many ways. Here history, psychology, sociology, linguistics and art studies, the philosophy of religion and of course theology can all make their contribution. They test access with their methods and categories. Of course, this also raises the question of how far a scientific objectification brings religious phenomena into such a distance that could violate the uniqueness of the sacred. One can also dissect love between people in such a way that it disappears in its vitality and in its immediacy. Something similar happens all too easily with the religious and especially with the sacred, and even more so with the appearing God. Sometimes there is such an alienation of the phenomenon that what escapes us is that which is unique and irreducible about it. I am firmly convinced that theology, but also liturgical speaking and doing, are not always adequately armed against this danger. All of this requires a high level of methodological awareness from the sciences that deal with religion and the sacred, which is not afraid of self-criticism (see M. Eliade, Die Religionen und das Heilige, Salzburg 1954; R. Schaeffler, Religionsphilosophie) , Freiburg 1983). It is not only about our terms and images that we use, but also about the adequacy of thinking before God. If we used to talk about the letting go of God, about the rising of the glory of God, then we now have to ask how this can best be done. In any case, we have to give glory to God, as we usually say. We must approach him in fear and trembling because we are often impure and sinful people. The religions have a good sense of this. It is important that we approach God as he deserves. This "fee relationship" plays a major role in phenomenology (cf. D. von Hildebrand, Christliche Ethik, Düsseldorf 1959, 294ff; Das Wesen der Liebe, Regensburg 1971, 145f.).

It has always been known that prayer is a special way of approaching God. Prayer is the real issue of religion. That is why Martin Buber has repeatedly made it clear that the original form of access to God is not simply talking about him, but that we always need the address. This need not mean that one should not speak of God in the sense of a "He". The hymns can certainly speak of God in the "He" style. But this always presupposes the address that we experience in the relation I-You. It is not just about something like a statement that would only determine what is available, but it is always also a linguistic act through which what you are looking for always appears in real terms. With the late Wittgenstein - the earlier Wittgenstein was extremely reserved towards religious speaking - there is a profound note that draws attention to the peculiarity of this specific counterpart. This note says: "You cannot hear God speak to another, but only when you are the one addressed." (Zettel, No. 717, in: Schriften 4, Frankfurt 1970, 429. This is the last note.) The honest speaking of God can only be formed and verified in our own historical existence.

Every hermeneutics of speaking about God must proceed from this. I would like to point out a new publication by B. Caspers (The Event of Prayer. Basics of a Hermeneutics of Religious Events, Freiburg 1998; see also R. Schaeffler, The Prayer and the Argument. Two ways of speaking from God. One Introduction to the theory of religious language, Düsseldorf 1989). Prayer is an action that differs from propositional and argumentative speaking. It is speaking in the face of the other. We have to pay close attention to this diversity of language forms and language games in the religious. This is especially true in worship, in which there can certainly be several ways of speaking, but boundary violations can also easily occur. That is why, for example, nothing is more embarrassing than the rash talk and gossip, especially in church services. There are also many malformations here. This is one of the reasons why silence and silence are so important when we speak of God and want to be addressed by him.

There are many language acts of prayer that need to be specifically explained. For example, there is a very elementary form of prayer in the lament. This is and remains an elementary basic expression of prayer: "Out of deep need I cry to you." The "why?" the lawsuit calls our lives into question. Just think of the big why question in Ps 22: 2: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It is typical of our prayers that we no longer really appreciate this simple, holistic and open way of speaking to God. But when we pray we should pour out our hearts before God. There are other forms of speech, such as praising, thanking and asking. In asking we experience our need and poverty. It also expresses our trust in God. Thanking is a person opening up to God as the giver of the gift, be it for the bread of the day, a certain joy, salvation from danger or a recovery that has occurred. In it, however, God himself, especially his giving, is praised: "For you are good." Ultimately, all of this leads to praise and praise, in which we selflessly let God be God and release him into his glory.

Whoever does not try and practice these approaches to God again and again cannot understand him, becomes alienated from him and is in danger of misunderstanding him. In prayer in particular, a person must repeatedly distinguish between God and idols, between the divine God and self-made idols. Only in worship does he learn to know and preserve his own freedom more deeply. An English-speaking liturgist has published notable publications in this regard, Geoffrey Wainwright (Doxology, London 1980). He is of the opinion that the language of worship first conveys the "object" on which theologians reflect. In this sense, he believes that all religious and theological speech is at its core "doxological". There are also many theological studies in the German-speaking area that dogma is also rooted in doxology and that theological statements therefore always contain elements of doxology (cf. J. Drumm, Doxologie und Dogma, Paderborn, 1991). This is cause for concern. Therefore it is also good to supplement the speech "Speaking of God", which has become a matter of course for us, with the topic "Calling God by name" or "Calling God".

That would be a final topic, but I just want to mention it. We spoke of the importance of addressing in prayer. God has a name. We should perhaps pay more attention to the name of God than to one concept of God. The name that is given to me can be made callable and invites you to do so. Only the name brings someone into the realm of accessibility and namability.

I know that I have to pass over a lot of things that are no less of central importance. I am thinking of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, the trinitarian structure of God especially in the New Testament, the conversation about God with the religions, especially Judaism and Islam. Even more important today is the question of the compatibility of God's goodness with suffering in the world. The theodicy problem is particularly troubling for people today. Theology and prayer "after Auschwitz" can be an empty phrase, but it also contains a profound question that, in the end, can only be addressed with a view to Jesus who was crucified.

I'm breaking off here. God always remains an incomprehensible mystery. He alone fulfills our longing and our restlessness, more than we can think and dream. Only when we open ourselves to it unconditionally and firmly believe it do we discover its wealth. That is why Elihu already speaks a wise word in the book of Job when he tells us: "God is greater than man." (33,12) People who had to live in an atheistic world in which the death of God was proclaimed again and again, felt this experience particularly in their lives. That is why I would like to repeat a word from Andrei Sinyavsky, which I quoted at the beginning of this lecture: "Enough has been said about people. It is time to think of God." ("Poems to God are prayers", ed. F. Ph. Ingold and I. Rakusa, Zurich 1972, 57)