A Religious Repair for Communicative Reason? Habermas's Return to Religion and Its Theological Reception

Christopher Craig Brittain

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyses the shift in Jürgen Habermas’ writing on religion, and reflects on its significance for theology. The discussion shows that the change in Habermas’ thought is related to his emerging sense that communicative rationality is insufficient to ground moral action. This development is illuminated by demonstrating how Habermas’ more recent work reverses his criticism of the relationship that Horkheimer establishes between the idea of God and the concept of truth. Moreover, tensions in Habermas’ treatment of religion’s “semantic content” are shown to result in what he himself would call a “performative contradiction.” With reference to theological receptions of Habermas by Adams and Junker-Kenny, the paper concludes that the promise of a fruitful dialogue between Habermas and theologians has never been greater, but that such a conversation will be enriched by returning to the writings on religion by the first generation of the Frankfurt School.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-190
Number of pages20
JournalToronto Journal of Theology
Issue number2
Early online date11 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • Jürgen Habermas
  • Horkheimer
  • scriptural reasoning
  • Adams
  • Junker-Kenny

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