Rethinking Luther’s Political Theology


Kristof Oltvai

PhD Student, Philosophy of Religions

Rethinking Luther’s Political Theology

The legacy of Martin Luther’s political theology is contested in the philosophy of religion. More contemporary voices like Žižek and Mjaaland have begun challenging the older, intensely critical readings of Engels, Adorno, and Fromm, but the former authors’ defenses of Luther are underdeveloped. This study aims to fill this lacuna and argues that Luther’s critiques of revolutionary prophetism go hand in hand with his challenge to Rome’s magisterial authority. Both, for the reformer, constitute forms of ‘subjectivism.’ The objective Word’s standing over against the congregation is what guarantees the latter as a site of deliberative rationality. In order to see why this is the case, however, we cannot look only at Luther’s explicitly political writings, but also to his rejection of memorialism in the Eucharistic controversy.

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, January 25th, 12:30 PM, Swift 403

This workshop will focus on the pre-circulated paper and will be largely discussion-based. During the workshop, Kristof will present an expanded version of the first section (on Luther’s conception of the freedom of the conscience).

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators John Marvin ( or Tyler Neenan ( in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.