Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wilfried Engemann

Head of department

Schenkenstr. 8-10

A-1010 Wien

Tel.: +43-1-4277-32802

Fax: +43-1-4277-8-32802


Office hour

Thursdays 3-4 p.m. by appointment

Short Biography

  • Born 1959 in Dresden
  • 1975 graduation from the general education polytechnic secondary school “Fritz Heckert” in Karl-Marx-Stadt (now again: Chemnitz)
  • 1975-1977 carpentry apprenticeship at VE House Construction “Wilhelm Pieck” Karl-Marx-Stadt concluding with a skilled worker qualification
  • 1977-1983 Protestant Theological Studies at the Theological Seminary of Leipzig
  • June 1983 first theological examination
  • September 1983 to August 1984 Curacy (I) in the congregations of Leipzig–Schönefeld and Leipzig–Seller­hau­sen (Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Saxony)
  • September 1984 to August 1989 assistant at the Theological Seminary of Leipzig, initially for the fields of Old Testament and Practical Theology, then beginning in 1986 only for Practical Theology
  • April 1985 doctorate in the field of Practical Theology at the University of Rostock on the relevance of communication-psychological processes for homiletical issues, published under the title: Persönlichkeitsstruktur und Predigt [Personality Structure and Preaching]
  • September 1989 to August 1990 Curacy (II) in the Evangelical Johannes–Church Congregation in Greifswald (Protestant Church of Pomerania)
  • March 1990 second theological examination
  • June 1990 postdoctoral lecturing qualification at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University of Greifswald, published under the title: Semiotische Homiletik. Prämissen – Analysen – Konsequenzen [Semiotical Homiletics: Premises – Analyses – Consequences]
  • Harvest Festival 1990 ordination and posting to the 1st pastorate of the church parish St. Marien in Greifswald
  • September 1990 to August 1994 minister at the St. Marienkirche und lecturer in Practical Theology at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University of Greifswald
  • April 1994 offer of the Chair of Practical Theology at the Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster
  • September 1994 to August 2011 university professor for Practical Theology and uni­versity Preacher at the Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster
  • July 1997 offer of the chair of Practical Theology at the Martin Luther Universtiy of Halle-Wittenberg (declined)
  • November 2010 offer of the Chair of Practical Theology at the Institute for Practical Theology and the Psychology of Religion of the University of Vienna
  • Since September 2011 university professor at the Institute for Practical Theology and the Psychology of Religion of the University of Vienna
  • Author and editor of numerous articles, monographs, textbooks and periodicals (see the link to the list of publications)
  • Hobbies: piano, singing, photography

Research Interests

  1. Analysis, critique and structuring of religious communication processes
    One of the central challenges faced by theology as a whole – theology being the critical and constructive companion to the religious praxis of Christianity – is posed in a particularly high degree in the area of Practical Theology. Since processes of communication are at issue in preaching and hearing, in conversations occurring in the context of pastoral care, in the formative processes of instruction, etc., the corresponding praxis needs to be oriented toward the principles of communication.

    This has far-reaching consequences for the self-understanding of the actors and their dealings with those with whom they are in communication, as well as for their handling of texts and other signs, their use of language, their reference to situations, the coherence of their theological argumentation, and much else. At the Institute the most diverse array of communication processes, that are detectable in the context of religious communication, are analyzed in an interdisciplinary manner, processed didactically and, via the impetus to critique and restructure, transformed.

    Exemplary publications:
    • Wilfried Engemann: Einführung in die Homiletik (UTB 2128), 2., vollständig überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage, Tübingen/Basel 2011 (Auszüge)
    • Wilfried Engemann: Kommunikation des Evangeliums als interdisziplinäres Projekt. Praktische Theologie im Dialog mit außertheologischen Wissenschaften, in: Christian Grethlein/Helmut Schwier (Hg.): Praktische Theologie. Eine Theorie- und Problemgeschichte (= APrTh 33), Leipzig 2007, 137–232
    • Wilfried Engemann: Schriftautorität als Kommunikationsbegriff und hermeneutische Kategorie. Anmerkungen zum Umgang mit der Bibel im Gottesdienst, in: Michael Meyer-Blanck (Hg.): Säkularität und Autorität der Schrift (= VWGTh, Bd. 45), Leipzig 2015, 122-144
    • Wilfried Engemann: Lebensgefühl und Glaubenskultur. Menschsein als Vorgabe und Zweck der religiösen Praxis des Christentums, in: WzM, 65. Jg., H. 3 (2013), 218-237     

  2. Employing Anthropology and the Psychology of Religion for the exploration of Christianity’s faith culture
    In recent years, work on a practical theo-logical anthropology, as the pivotal element of a contemporary theory and praxis of religion that corresponds to human personhood, has become a more central focus of my research. Among other things, the development of this concentration results from the practical theological need for an anthropologically coherent concept of human personhood, that does more than merely reflect correctly the soteriological positions of the 16th century. The structuring of worship services and sermons is often oriented toward an anthropology that is reduced to the concept of the justification of the sinner. It is not, however, enough, where the central question (unifying the Humanities and the Human Sciences) about the human person is concerned, to defend a supposedly “biblical concept of human being” against anthropological insights gained since the Enlightenment. Nor will it do to then deploy such a concept against “the modern performance principle”. Coming to see the human person as the subject of her/his own life – to whom belong independent judgments, well-founded decisions and a clarified independent will – is unavoidable.

    Without such instruments for the conduct of life, people cannot attend to their lives with commitment and passion, cannot really “appear in their own lives”. Only a religious praxis that allows human persons come to the fore as human persons conforms to the faith-culture of Christianity. The development of corresponding perspectives presupposes the continuation of the interdisciplinary dialogue with the Human Sciences (such as, for example, as neurobiology and cognitive psychology), which until a few years ago were hardly in view as conversations partners of practical theology.

    Exemplary publications:
    • Wilfried Engemann: Vom Umgang mit Menschen im Gottesdienst. Probleme der impliziten liturgischen Anthropologie, in: EvTh, 72. Jg. (2012), H. 2, 101-117
    • Wilfried Engemann: Aneignung der Freiheit. Lebenskunst und Willensarbeit in der Seel-sorge, in: WzM, 58. Jg. (2006), H. 1, 28–48
    • Wilfried Engemann: Als Mensch zum Vorschein kommen. Anthropologische Implikationen religiöser Praxis, in: Wilfried Engemann (Hg.): Menschsein und Religion. Anthropologische Probleme und Perspektiven der religiösen Praxis des Christentums (= WFTR 11), Göttingen 2016, 17–42

  3. The Art of Living as a concern of pastoral care
    The question of a “masterful” conduct of life, that is accompanied by a good life attitude and causes people to live with gladness, has a long tradition. It goes back to the beginnings of philosophy and theology. In light of specific societal developments, the question has gained a new, explosive force. It is therefore necessary to tap into the resources of the ars vivendi (the art of living) in the context of the Christian religion, and to develop criteria for sermons that are in the service of life. Furthermore, it is necessary to discuss in detail guidelines for a culture of pastoral care that sets itself the task of contributing to successful living – without thereby succumbing to the misunderstanding of “works righteousness”, or concentrating on “winner biographies”, or even portraying experiences of failure, pain, guilt, etc. as disruptions of a fulfilled life.

    The dialogue between theology and philosophy, which might seem quite natural in light of this challenge, has undergone numerous disruptions and interruptions, which have proved to be a handicap in the discourse of Practical Theology. Unlike Psychology and Sociology, Philosophy has scarcely been involved in the development of Practical Theology’s contemporary ideas of competent living. Against this backdrop, the attempt is made – following both the religious praxis of Christianity and its traditions and the researches of contemporary Practical Philosophy – to formulate convergent principles of successful living.

    Exemplary publications: (following)