When it comes to how Heidegger understands theology, Martin Luther was instrumental in his early formulations. Heidegger’s interpretation of Luther leads him to descry theology as a discipline best left unfettered by metaphysics and this attitude is carried right through Heidegger’s career. By explicating Luther’s influence upon Heidegger’s early Freiburg lectures from 1919-1923, we can raise an important question about the nuanced way Heidegger construes Luther’s theology. Although the influence of Luther upon Heidegger has been well documented, what I am interested in is the difference between Luther and Heidegger’s way of relating theology to metaphysics. What I am contending is that although Luther and Heidegger share a fundamental criticism of scholastic metaphysics, they distinctly differ in their understandings of a constructive relationship between metaphysics and theology. Whereas Luther and Protestant theology continued a theologically informed metaphysics, Heidegger argues that this was a mistake which is inconsistent with the early Luther’s theology. In Heidegger’s early lectures he himself points out these nuanced interpretive issues, and it is this aspect of Heidegger’s work which I will focus on in this essay.
16th Conference of the European Society for Philosophy of Religion (ESPR). Religion After Metaphysics: Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Society for Philosophy of Religion (Tübingen, Germany 1-4 September, 2006)