Karl-Wilhelm Dahm

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Karl-Wilhelm Dahm

Karl-Wilhelm Dahm (born August 3, 1931 in Kirchen , Siegerland ) is a German theologian and sociologist.


Dahm graduated from Realgymnasium Dillenburg in 1951 with the Abitur. He completed his studies in Protestant theology , sociology and history in Wuppertal , Tübingen , Göttingen , Hamburg , Münster with the first theological exam in 1957 and the second theological exam in 1962. In 1963 he received his doctorate with the social science dissertation Pastor and Politics - Study of Social Position and political mentality of the German Protestant pastors between 1918 and 1933 in Münster for Dr. phil. During his studies he became a member of the liberal Tübingen fraternity Derendingia .

After an academic assistant at the Institute for Christian Social Sciences in Münster, he became a professor at the Herborn Theological Seminary in 1967 . In 1975 he was appointed full professor for Christian social sciences at the theological faculty of the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster. In 1996 Dahm retired .

On his 80th birthday in 2011 a commemorative publication was dedicated to him under the title “Church between Theory, Practice and Ethics” . Edited by Dieter Becker and Peter Höhmann and with a greeting from President Nikolaus Schneider , Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).


In his scientific work, Dahm endeavored to connect different fields of science, such as empirical social research , sociology and theological issues. As a theologian and sociologist in the systematic-ethical department, Dahm deals with both ethical issues (corruption, economic activity or globalization) and theological-practical. In the 1970s, his work was characterized by the functional differentiation that he specifically applied to the pastor's profession. Dahm saw himself as a critic of the narrowing of dogmatic theology and tried with his work to open up the evangelical pastoral profession to socially relevant topics.

Theology and sociology

Dahm combines sociological research with theological topics. In addition to organizational and professional sociological aspects, ethical and behavior-oriented topics come to the fore in his research and teaching.

Church theory and professional sociological work

Dahm's work Beruf: Pfarrer , published in 1971, found widespread circulation in several editions in the 1970s. Here Dahm established a functional theory of church action. Received as a functional church theory , Dahm locates the tasks of the Protestant church and its pastors within society. In doing so, he breaks with the previous professional and church images, which see themselves as counterparts to society. Dahm understands the tasks of the evangelical pastors to be radically innerworldly. Your theological-pastoral tasks (functions) consist from now on of imparting values ​​and accompanying your life. Thus, the socially relevant training for the pastor's profession, in which Dahm worked as a professor at the Herborn Theological Seminary ( EKHN ) until 1975, comes to the fore. Dahm saw an essential goal of his work in the liberation of both the church as an organization and the professional practice of the evangelical pastor from certain dogmatic claims, such as, in Dahm's opinion, emerged from the theology of Karl Barth in the post-war period.

Ethics and social behavior

From 1975 until his retirement in 1996, Dahm headed the Institute for Christian Social Sciences at the Westphalian Wilhelms University (later renamed the Institute for Ethics and Related Social Sciences). The institute was founded in 1955 and conducts research and teaching in the field of ethics in an interdisciplinary context.

Memberships and international activities

For many years Dahm was a member of the synods of the EKD and the EKU and a board member of the Althusius Society.

Publications (selection)

Joint editor with Dieter Becker , Peter Höhmann of the series Empirie und Kirchliche Praxis (EuKP).

  • Pastors and politics - social position and political mentality of the German Protestant pastors between 1918 and 1933 , Cologne, Opladen 1965
  • Profession: Pastor - Empirical Aspects , Munich 1971, 2nd edition 1972, 3rd edition 1974
  • Religion - System and Socialization , Darmstadt / Neuwied 1972 (together with Niklas Luhmann and Dieter Stoodt )
  • The beyond of society. Religion in the process of social-scientific criticism , Munich 1975 (jointly edited with Volker Drehsen and Günter Kehrer ).
  • Political theory of Johannes Althusius . Edited by Karl-Wilhelm Dahm, Werner Krawietz and Dieter Wyduckel, Berlin 1988.
  • Ethics - Economy - Church - Responsibility in Industrial Society , Düsseldorf 1991 (jointly edited with Wolfgang Marhold and others)
  • Evangelical Church in Social Change - Challenges to Understanding the Church, Pastor Profession, Christian Ethics , Frankfurt 2015

Individual evidence

  1. Membership directory Derendingia 2004
  2. ^ Church between theory, practice and ethics. Frankfurt 2011.
  3. ^ Karl-Wilhelm Dahm: Beruf: Pfarrer , Munich 1971, p. 99 and p. 303.
  4. ^ Karl-Wilhelm Dahm: Profession: Pastor , Munich 1971, p. 305f.

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