Wolfhart Pannenberg

(b. 1928)

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(1928– ),

German Protestant theologian. From 1968 to 1993 he was Professor of Systematic Theology in the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Munich. In 1961 he edited Offenbarung als Geschichte (Eng. tr., Revelation as History, 1968). Here he argued that Christian theology cannot protect itself against criticism by appeal to some privileged epistemology of faith. Faith, rather, is a manner of response to certain historical facts that, rationally speaking, suggest interpretation in revelatory terms. The key facts to which such appeal is made are explored in his first major work, Grundzüge der Christologie (1964; Eng. tr., Jesus—God and Man, 1968), which is remarkable for its defence of the historicity of the Resurrection of Christ. Later books maintain that Christian theology must argue with atheism in the shared context of critical rationality. His wide-ranging Systematische Theologie (1988–93; Eng. tr., 1991–8) is notable for its determination to argue for the truth of Christian doctrine. His work includes a powerful defence of reform (as opposed to revolution) in Christian social ethics, and a novel, if controversial, attempt to underpin the theology of hope with an ontology of God as the power of the future.

Subjects: Christianity.

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