Martin Wendte

Jesus Christ, life-enhancing Healer and Physician

Privatdozent in Evangelical Theology
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Evangelisch-theologische Fakultät
Tübingen; Germany

Capstone Conference Talk

Saturday (8/5) 2:50-3:10PM

Spiritual Health in a Fitness-Oriented Society

For many people in our achievement-oriented societies in the West, health – understood as bodily fitness – is pivotal to their identity. Accordingly, sick people and persons with disabilities are often less integrated into society. In the New Testament we find a counter-world to this understanding of health and identity. Jesus heals people, but his understanding of health does not focus on bodily fitness, but includes the spiritual and the cultural dimensions. My presentation combines sociological observations with exegetical insights and explores the consequent dimensions of a theology of disability.


Capstone Conference Research Laboratory

SUNDAY (8/6) 1:00-2:30PM

Drawing the Edges of Human Life

This laboratory session will attempt to bridge our research findings (encompassing technological, social, and moral dimensions) on human enhancements at the beginning and end of life with those normative views, beliefs, and attitudes operating in the public sphere. Which narratives about enhancement achieve valence? Which “publics” participate? How does the definition of “health” draw margins and borders of fitness that implicate resource allocation, justice, and disparity? Are the margins changing? To what extent can notions of human flourishing, the awe of life, and living finite life to its fullest move and shift the normative boundaries and expectations for the beginning and end of life that predominate our technology-driven cultures?

Research Laboratories allow audience members to interact with a panel of ELP Scholars and Interlocutors in addressing a problem of public relevance. We invite active participation from audience members in the creation of new knowledge.

Academic Biography

After passing my A-levels in 1993 in Bremen, Germany, I studied Protestant theology in Heidelberg, Berlin, London (where I received an MA from King’s College, London and won the Relton Prize in Christian Doctrine for the best MA of the year) and Göttingen. From 2002 until 2004 I wrote my doctoral dissertation, which has been published by de Gruyter under the title Gottmenschliche Einheit bei Hegel: Eine logische und theologische Untersuchung. The doctoral dissertation (summa cum laude) won the Promotionspreis der Evangelisch-theologischen Fakultät der Eberhard Karls Universität zu Tübingen für die beste Promotion im Akademischen Jahr 2005/2006; the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise in 2008 and the Dr. Leopold Lukas Nachwuchswissenschaftlerpreis in 2010. From 2004 until 2010 I worked as assistant (WissenschaftlicherMitarbeiter) for Prof. Dr. Christoph Schwöbel, Tübingen, and wrote my habilitation, published by Mohr Siebeck as Die Gabe und das Gestell: Luthers Metaphysik des Abendmahls im technischen Zeitalter. In January 2010, I taught as an Adjunct Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS), New Jersey, USA. From March 2013 until August 2013 I taught as Interim Professor (Lehrstuhlvertretung) of the Lehrstuhl für Systematische Theologie und Wissenschaftskulturdialog (Lehrstuhlinhaber: Prof. Dr. Markus Mühling) at the Institut für Theologie und Religionspädagogik der Leuphana-Universität Lüneburg, Germany. From 2010 until 2012 I was member of the international interdisciplinary research group The Impact of Idealism at the University of Cambridge, led by Professor Nicolas Boyle. Currently, I work as Privatdozent for Systematic Theology at the Eberhard KarlsUniversitätzu Tübingen, Germany and since March 2013 I have worked part-time as a minister at the Pfarrseminar der Württembergischen Landeskirche in Stuttgart, Germany, where I teach curates.

Project Executive Summary

The project is dedicated to a central theme within the enhancing life studies: health. I intend to shed light on the interplay between salvation and healing under the technological premises of late modern Western societies. This interplay is developed by focussing on the centre of Christian faith, Jesus Christ. From a Christian perspective, Jesus Christ – healer and physician – personifies in our world of illness, disability and sin a life-enhancing counter-world with a set of key spiritual laws while also counteracting the threat of a deification of health. This affords Jesus Christ the dual function of saviour and healer (sacramentum) as well as role model (exemplum) for contemporary Christians. This approach is worked out within the horizon of the current developments in global Christianity: Christianity is becoming a religion of the Global South, a process that is giving rise to a number of new Christologies. The project draws upon one of these new Christologies as a resource for exploring the divine plenitude of Jesus Christ. To this end, for the first time in German Protestant systematic theology I shall establish an intercultural discourse between contemporary African Christologies and European traditions in order to generate a systematic-theological Christology of healing. This intercultural discourse itself is a methodological way of enhancing life. – Accordingly, the monograph will consist of four main chapters: 1) Sociological and systematic-theological observations on global Christianity; 2) African Christology of Jesus the Healer; 3) The European Christ-as-Physician-tradition in the New Testament and Church history; 4) Jesus Christ, Healer, Physician and Saviour in contemporary Western societies: developed in critical conversation with African impulses. - My research is further supported and inspired by an international conference on the theme in spring 2016 which brings together 8 leading experts in Tübingen, Germany.