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Feiler, Therese (2019): Political Challenges to the German Diakonie. In: Political Theology, Vol. 20, No. 8: pp. 616-630
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This paper investigates the contemporary relationship between politics and Diakonie in German-speaking countries. The Diakonie here functions as a pillar of the welfare state, bound by its quality standards, administrative mechanisms, but also tied to its fate. First, a brief historical overview will revisit the emergence of the Diakonie in the context of counter-revolutionary evangelization in the mid-nineteenth century. Second, it will be explored how contemporary practical theology/diaconic science addresses three challenges: economization, cultural and religious pluralization, and the distinction between state and diaconia in the context of large-scale migration. Examining recent works by T. Zippert, H. Rüegger, U. Körtner and others, the paper will show that a shift from the early Diakonie’s counterrevolutionary orientation to a liberal-humanist outlook has amalgamated the Christian-social and the political. The proprium of Christian help, an alternative economy, and political imperatives around security are increasingly lacking conceptualization. This development may be fruitfully reversed.