Pannenberg, Wolfhart

Pannenberg, Wolfhart
(1928-)
   A Lutheran theologian whose overriding concern has been the reestablishment of the rationality of Christianity in the light of the challenge of the Enlightenment, Pannenberg sees Barth's response as inadequate and so has reinterpreted revelation as public and historical in nature (Revelation as History (1961)). This reveals one aspect of the Hegelian influence in Pannenberg's thought. Further, he denies that faith can produce knowledge; instead, knowledge of the risen Christ must come through textual criticism and historical research (Jesus - God and Man (1968)). Indeed, Pannenberg views all claims to knowledge as provisional hypotheses prior to the end of history. On these grounds he seeks to establish the provisional rationality of theology. This method leads to Pannenberg's anthropological study, which seeks to establish the innate human capacity to receive revelation. While interpretations of Pannenberg as holding to evidentialism seem plausible, the oft-stated criticism that his views of knowledge and epistemic justification are foundationalist is misguided as he is probably better understood as holding a form of coherentism. Pannenberg's three-volume Systematic Theology (1991-8) is among the most important theological works of recent decades, though his most philosophical work is his Theology and the Philosophy of Science (1976).
   Further reading: Pannenberg 1968, 1976, 1985 and 1991-8; Shults 1999

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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