2. Liberal Piety: Rudolf Otto and the Protestant Liberal Theology of his Age
Peter Schüz [+]
In the following chapter, I focus on Otto’s relation to the liberal tradition of Protestantism: after a brief overview of the basic motifs of the so-called Liberal Theology in Germany, I will discuss the relations between Otto and Liberal Theology, examining his biographical background, key aspects of his theological works, and passages from Otto’s correspondence that convey some apprehension about Liberal Theology. I claim that that, in the end, Otto was both inside and outside of the Liberal Theology tradition, and his relationship toward it is ultimately ambivalent: as a liberal thinker who found his academic home in the liberal climate of Göttingen, Otto finally became what can be called a crisis diagnostician of Liberal Theology, pitting the irrational and mysterious dimensions of Christian piety against the later so-called liberal Cultural Protestantism. In this way he became a key figure in the transformation of theology in the early 20th century and in the crisis of German Liberal Theology after the First World War that is still relevant for the debates about the future of theology today.