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Monday, September 8, 2014

Wolfhart Pannenberg RIP

Dr. William Witt, an Anglican scholar, has this to say about Dr. Panneberg's work:

Pannenberg was the first “serious” theologian I read in detail. (Later I discovered Karl Barth and Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Torrance and Hans urs von Balthasar and numerous others, but it all started with Pannenberg.) By focusing on the resurrection of Jesus as the starting point of theology, he challenged both Bultmannian de-mythologization and Barthian Word theology at a time in which eschatology was either ignored or left to the fundamentalists. He also made a strong argument in favor of engaging contemporary culture head on rather than retreating to an intellectual ghetto, insisting that, above all, Christian theology is rational. Sorry to think that his work here is done, but, perhaps more than any modern theologian, he would have agreed with St. Paul that “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Michael Root, professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, has written:

Wolfhart Pannenberg has produced an impressive range of work that is learned, intelligent, and faithful. His ambiguous relation to his time is itself instructive. It should make us think about what theology is, what it is called to do, and how theology and church inevitably reflect one another.

Pannenberg is now well into his eighties and we can expect that his theological work is complete. From the beginning of his career, he has employed his formidable intelligence and scholarship in the service of careful thought and writing about the God present in Christ and the Spirit. Lives and talents so spent are blessings.

Read Professor Root's full essay on "The Achievement of Wolfhart Pannenberg" at First Things.

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