Faculty of Protestant Theology

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Founded in 1967, the Faculty of Protestant Theology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München can look back on a history spanning almost 50 years.

Negotiations over Foundation

The formal establishment of the Faculty on 1 October 1967 was preceded by lengthy and complex negotiations. As early as the 1950s and 1960s, many calls had been heard for a second faculty of Protestant theology in Bavaria after Erlangen. The reasons given included the rapid growth of Bavaria's Protestant population, the central significance of Munich as the capital of the state, and the benefits that such a faculty would bring to ecumenical dialogue. 

However, dissenting voices were also raised by parties including the Erlangen Theological Faculty and the Augustana-Hochschule Divinity School in Neuendettelsau, founded in 1947.  In 1963 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria discussed the pros and cons of a theological faculty in Munich, finally voting in favor of the new establishment. When the parliament of the Free State of Bavaria finally approved the necessary funding in 1966, the foundation of the faculty was settled.

But given the history of LMU Munich, the integration of a department of Protestant theology into the faculty community was by no means assured. During the first zenith of Bavaria's state university in Ingolstadt in the 16th century, it had been a hotbed of criticism of the Reformation and a birthplace of the Counter-Reformation. It was thus all the more pleasing that the vote of the Faculty of Catholic Theology in favour of the new faculty in 1964 played such a significant role in the success of its foundation.

The Foundation

A treaty between the Free State of Bavaria and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria concerning the foundation of the faculty and its maintenance was finally concluded in June 1967. The State of Bavaria was represented by Minister of State Ludwig Huber, and the church by the state bishop, Hermann Dietzfelbinger, who at the time was also head of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany. Speaking on the occasion of the conclusion of the treaty, Minister Huber underlined the fundamental association of Protestant theology with the university and expressly emphasized the significant role played by Munich, as a site of academic activity, in ecumenical research and teaching. 

The First Appointments

Plans for the organization of the faculty had been under way before the treaty was signed. They provided for the establishment of 13 to 14 Chairs in gradual stages, two each for the classic disciplines, a chair for Missiology and Study of Religion, and two special chairs for topics which could include Creeds (Original: Konfessionskunde) and Ecumenics or Social Ethics. Appointments made in the autumn of 1966 for the first five Chairs were: Hans-Walter Wolff, Old Testament; Leonhard Goppelt, New Testament; Georg Kretschmar, Church History; Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology; Peter Krusche, Practical Theology. Funds for five further chairs were applied for in the Bavarian state budget for 1968 and approved.

The first negotiations over appointments were concluded in the late summer of 1967. Acceptance was received from Kretschmar, Krusche and Goppelt, and after their appointments the faculty was constituted on 1 October. The first faculty meeting was held soon afterwards, attended by the professors already appointed, by Wolfhart Pannenberg, who was still engaged in negotiations at that time before finally accepting the appointment in early November 1967, and by Klaus Baltzer, who had received a request for appointment to the Chair of the Old Testament after refusals by Hans-Walter Wolff and, later, Hans-Joachim Kraus. The assembled gathering voted Prof. Goppelt to the position of dean and Prof. Kretschmar as vice-dean and elected senator. In further meetings, proposals for appointments to the five remaining approved Chairs were submitted and plans were made for teaching to commence in the summer semester of 1968.

Teaching Starts

The first lectures were finally held in the summer semester of 1968 in the University's main building. The turmoil of those years was indicated by the necessity of cancelling the planned academic opening ceremonies owing to student unrest. The Faculty's institutes, at that time still scattered throughout the campus, were united under one roof some years later in new premises at Schellingstrasse 3. In 2009 the Faculty will move to a wing of the main building, in the vicinity of the Faculty of Catholic Theology and the Theology and Philosophy Library, which opened in 2004 and is the largest on this subject in Germany. 

The first University calendar included not only a commentary on selected psalms by Gerhard von Rad, who joined the Faculty as guest professor, but also the following courses and lectures: Texts on the History of Prophecy (Klaus Baltzer); Letter to the Romans (Leonhard Goppelt); History of the Early Church (Georg Kretschmar); The Reality of God and His Revelation (Wolfhart Pannenberg); The Relevance of Ecclesiastical Structures in Theological Study (Peter Krusche). After some time, three appointment procedures were brought to a positive conclusion: Harald Hegermann became second Professor for the New Testament, Trutz Rendtorff took over the second Chair of Systematic Theology, and Horst Bürkle became Professor ordinarius of Missiology and Studies of Religion. The second Chair of Practical Theology was later awarded to Christoph Bäumler and that of Church History to Reinhard Schwarz. A third Chair of Systematic Theology in which research and teaching would focus on Lutheran theology and the dogma of the Wittenberg tradition was occupied by Jörg Baur.

The Faculty Today

Today the Faculty of Protestant Theology at LMU Munich has five departments comprising eleven professorships: Old Testament Studies and New Testament Theology, Church History, Systematic Theology, Practical Theology, and Missiology and Studies of Religion.

Information based on Gunther Wenz: 40 Jahre Evangelische Theologie an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.