Evan Kuehn

“Troeltsch’s Eschatological Absolute”

My dissertation focuses on the work of Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923), a German Protestant theologian who also contributed significantly to the fields of social thought, ethics, and the history of religions. The systematic goal of my project is to offer an account of Troeltsch’s key theological concept of the Absolute. While Troeltsch is well-known for his critique of claims to “absoluteness” in religion and his identification of a “crisis of historicism” in modern religious thought, his understanding of the Absolute as a theological concept, and in particular as an eschatological concept, is less widely recognized. In fact, Troeltsch sees religion as a human orientation toward absolute and ultimate reality, such that his eschatology and his theory of religion more generally depend upon this basic concept. My systematic theological goal is also motivated and substantiated by the historical project of understanding how Troeltsch took up relevant problems in post-Kantian thought and offered a coherent theological response to them. 

As a Martin Marty Center Junior Fellow, I look forward to a robust dialogue with colleagues and the public on matters of religious concern. While specific research projects often (and often rightly) privilege depth over breadth, engaging with the research of others across methodological, historical, and philosophical boundaries is essential to gaining a proper perspective on one’s own work within a larger whole. Such engagement also makes for good neighbors. The Marty Center foregrounds both perspectivism and neighborliness, and these two values are what I am most looking forward to during my time as a Junior Fellow.