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:

With reference to the rigorism of a Christological approach that proceeds “from below” in contrast to a “Christology from above,” many critics have voiced discomfort. This is regarded as justified even though the argumentation in which it is expressed is not persuasive. Most objections that have been raised against the procedure of Christology “from below” in fact aim too low. This is true above all of the common contention that the contrast between a Christology “from below” and one “from above” is only an apparent one: “Whereas Jesus is not recognizable as the Son of God until his death on the cross and his resurrection, in the order of being he is the Son of God before his history takes place.” [Moltmann, CG, p. 91] This observation is of course correct. However, it is not called into question by a Christology “from below.” Rather, with this observation one is already operating on the line of such an approach. The contrast to a Christology “from above” applies exclusively to the noetic procedure. For a “Christology from above” the order of being and the order of knowledge are not reciprocal but parallel, even if in the order of knowledge the movement “from above” proceeds only by means of divine revelation.

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