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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wolfhart Pannenberg: A Paragon of Modern Theology?

 

 
Logos.com is holding up Wolfhart Pannenberg as though he were a paragon of the Christian faith.  See the blog article at Pannenberg.  However the truth is that Pannenberg was a student of Karl Barth who denied that the Bible is the very Word of God inspired and inerrant in the original autographs.  Barth's view is that the Bible is just a good book and it only "becomes" the Word of God as it existentially and subjectively moves the reader.  But the Protestant and Evangelical view is that Scripture is the very words of God inspired fully by the Holy Spirit and that it is objectively God's word recorded in the form of propositional truth.  Scripture is revelation from God.
 
Furthermore, Pannenberg's theology of history as revelation undermines the emphasis on Scripture as revelation from God.  Although Pannenberg holds that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was an historical event, he denies the physical and bodily resurrection of Christ and instead emphasizes the "historical event" as a vision rather than a literal and physical and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. 
 
One writer says that Pannenberg rejects the resurrection appearances recorded in the Gospel accounts and only accepts Paul's post-ascension experience of Jesus' resurrection while Paul was on the road to Damascus:
 

The Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

In Pannenberg's view, the apostle Paul is our only reliable source of information regarding the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. As he sees it, Paul's testimony offers the only eyewitness account of this remarkable event that we have. What's more, the tradition that Paul relies on in 1 Corinthians 15 "arose very early . . . prior to Paul's visit to Jerusalem." If Paul received this formula shortly after his conversion (which is likely), then it "must have reached back to the first five years after Jesus' death." This is incredibly early and lends to the appearance traditions, at least as we have them in Paul, a "good historical foundation." But what about the appearance stories recorded in the Gospels? Doesn't Pannenberg grant any credence to these? Unfortunately, he does not. In his view, while a "factual core" may still lie behind these accounts, they nonetheless represent "a later stage of the tradition with legendary and in part tendentious features (Luke 24:39 ff.)." Thus, for reasons such as these, Pannenberg essentially "rules all of the New Testament conceptions of resurrection except Paul's out of court from the beginning."  If Paul offers us the only reliable information that we have concerning the postresurrection appearances of Jesus, then what does he tell us about the nature of this event?

According to Pannenberg, what Paul experienced on the road to Damascus was probably a vision of the resurrected Lord, who appeared to him from heaven. What's more, since the other apostles seem to have accepted Paul's experience as similar to their own, it is likely that the appearances which they experienced were also visionary in nature. It's important to point out that when Pannenberg speaks of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to his disciples as "visionary," he does not in any way mean to imply that they were therefore purely subjective or hallucinatory. He writes, "If by 'vision' one understands a psychological event that is without a corresponding extrasubjective reality, then one can certainly not presuppose such a 'subjective' concept of vision for the resurrection appearances as self-evident."  Indeed, Pannenberg explicitly objects to what he terms "the subjective vision hypothesis" on the grounds that it cannot adequately account for either "the number of the appearances" or "their temporal distribution."  In other words, Jesus didn't just appear to a single individual on one occasion.  [From:  THE NATURE OF THE RESURRECTION BODY IN THE THEOLOGY OF WOLFHART PANNENBERG: AN ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUE, by Michael Gleghorn].

 
While I have no problem saying that Millard Erickson is an Evangelical Christian, Erickson's own theology is Baptist and mostly Arminian.  I studied Erickson's systematic theology while I was a student at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God, Lakeland, Florida in the late 1980s.  Erickson's work is worth reading but since his biases are not in favor of the Reformed position it is probably not high on the list for those who are more interested in the doctrines of grace as understood from the perspective of the Protestant Reformation in England and in Europe.  One has to wonder, however, if Millard Erickson's theology of the resurrection of Jesus has been overly influenced by Pannenberg since Erickson studied under Panneberg?  I cannot offer an opinion without reviewing Erickson's position in his systematic theology.
 
I am commenting on this because in the new version of Logos 4 when one opens the Bible software one is logged into Logos.com and articles from their Logos blog appear within the program.  The issue here is you need to be logged in to receive updates and synchronization for your Logos library.  The difficulty with this is Logos is not just updating your Bible software and leaving the theological work to you--they are trying to push their own agenda in the interest of appealing to theological liberals and the broader ecumenical world of Christianity.
 
I would wish that Logos keep their theological opinions to themselves and let the local Christian churches and individuals follow their own confessions of faith and creeds.  Why should Logos endorse Wolfhart Pannenberg when Pannenberg is for all practical purposes an enemy of the Gospel?
 
This is not to say that Evangelicals should not read Pannenberg for intellectual stimulation and for learning.  However, the distinction should be made between reading for academic purposes and reading someone as if that person were representative in any way of Evangelical and true Christianity.  Evangelicals will find Pannenberg useful for investigating the history of theology and the church fathers but at the same time they should be aware of Pannenberg's "spin" on these topics.  Pannenberg's presuppositions are in line with the Tubingen history of religions and Karl Barth's neo-orthodoxy, which is really just liberalism repackaged in an existential and subjective encounter.  If there is no such thing as objective and proprositional truth in Holy Scripture we are believing in vain.  (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).
 
Sincerely yours in Christ,
 
Charlie J. Ray, M. Div.
 
 
  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;
    Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.
 
 

1 comment:

Charlie J. Ray said...

The proof for Pannenberg's views on the resurrection are found in his book, Jesus: God and Man. I don't have the page numbers handy at the moment.

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