Jürgen Moltmann on Wolfhart Pannenberg, his “dear friend and opponent”

Moltmann with Pannenberg
Jürgen Moltmann with Professor and Mrs Pannenberg at Hans Küng’s 60th birthday party

When asked for a one sentence comment about Wolfhart Pannenberg at the Emergent Village Theological Conversation in 2009, Moltmann replied that “he is a dear friend and opponent.” The two of them were at the center of the new “hope theology” movement of the 1960’s, and throughout their theological careers were in dialog and conflict with each other. In A Broad Place: An Autobiography, Moltmann spends about a page and a half reflecting on his relationship to Pannenberg, the similarities of their two versions of “hope theology” and how he learned that the two of them got along much better when they avoided discussions of politics. In the wake of Pannenberg’s recent passing, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this section:

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Remembering Wolfhart Pannenberg (A Roundup of Reflections and Articles)

Wolfhart Pannenberg, 1928-2014

Wolfhart Pannenberg has died.  He truly was one of the greatest theological minds of his generation, and has been fast becoming one of my favorite theologians.

A number of people who know a thing or two about him (or even knew him personally!) have shared some excellent reflections in the days since his passing. Here is a roundup of articles and media on Pannenberg in remembrance. I’ll try to add more to this post as I become aware of them:

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Pannenberg Responds to Moltmann’s Critique of Christology “from Below”

Wolfhart Pannenberg

I previously shared Moltmann’s observation regarding the divide between christology “from above” vs “from below”, where he observed that “The difference between a ‘christology from below’ and a ‘christology from above’ is only apparent.” (CG, p. 91) This is in stark contrast to Pannenberg’s strong rejection of christology from above. In an afterward to the second edition of Jesus – God and Man, Pannenberg briefly responds to many criticisms to his approach,  including this one. Here is the relevant paragraph:

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Wolfhart Pannenberg Audio Lectures

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Since I’m starting to dive a bit deeper into Pannenberg, I’ve decided to go back and re-listen to the collection of lectures that he delivered at Asbury back in 1991 (when I was 10 years old….). They are a bit difficult to navigate on the seminary’s website (some of the titles are missing and there are several duplicates), so I am listing them here below by title with direct links to each lecture. If you don’t listen to any others, make sure you check out The Christian Vision of God, which is an excellent talk on the doctrine of the Trinity.

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Pannenberg on why christology “from above” is not feasible for us

At the center of Barth’s harsh critique of Pannenberg’s Grundzuge der Christologie (the original German edition of Jesus- God and Man) was his christology “from below”. I’m only a couple chapters into the book, but I can see how Pannenberg’s method (and its inherent critique of Barth’s “christology from above to below” would make the great Karl Barth bristle!
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Karl Barth’s Letter to Wolfhart Pannenberg

Wolfhart Pannenberg

In the next few weeks, I plan to begin reading Jesus: God and Man by Wolfhart Pannenberg. I’ve read a couple of Pannenberg’s shorter works, and would especially recommend his accessible An Introduction To Systematic Theology. I’ve also listened to a few of his lectures that are available via Asbury Seminary’s website (here is one on the doctrine of creation). Jesus: God and Man was his first major work and I am looking forward to engaging with it.

I remembered reading Pannenberg’s correspondence with Karl Barth in the collection of letters I read last year. Below is the letter that Barth wrote to Pannenebrg upon reading the original German edition of Jesus: God and Man in 1964 (Grundzuge der Christologie). Continue reading Karl Barth’s Letter to Wolfhart Pannenberg