Wolfhart Pannenberg

‘Who shall unseal the years, the years!’: Around the traps

Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie

The latest edition of Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie is out and includes two articles of interest to me:

‘Can the Electing God be God without us? Some Implications of Bruce McCormack’s Understanding of Barth’s Doctrine of Election for the Doctrine of the Trinity’, by Paul D Molnar (pp. 199-222)


This article is the attempt at a dialogue with Bruce McCormack about the position he espoused in The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth concerning the relation between God’s Election of grace and God’s Triunity. I had criticized McCormack’s position in my book, Divine Freedom and the Doctrine of the Immanent Trinity (2002), but I did not elaborate on it in great detail. To develop the dialogue I will: 1) consider McCormack’s claim that in CD II/2 Barth made Jesus Christ “rather than” the Eternal Logos the subject of election; 2) consider what Barth means when he speaks of Jesus Christ “in the beginning”; 3) compare McCormack’s thesis that the Father never had regard for the Son, apart from the humanity to be assumed, with Barth’s belief that we must not dispute the eternal will of God which “precedes even predestination”; 4) analyze in detail McCormack’s rejection of Barth’s belief that the logos asarkos in distinction from the logos incarnandus is a necessary concept in trinitarian theology; 5) discuss Barth’s concept of the divine will in relation to the concept advanced by McCormack and suggest that McCormack has fallen into the error of Hermann Schell by thinking that God in some sense takes his origin from himself, so that God would only be triune if he elected us; 6) explain why it is a problem to hold, as McCormack does, that God’s self-determination to be triune and his election of us should be considered one and the same act; and finally 7) explain McCormack’s confusion of time and eternity in his latest article on the subject in the February, 2007 issue of the Scottish Journal of Theology, and his own espousal of a kind of indeterminacy on God’s part (which he theoretically rejects).

‘The Difference Totality Makes. Reconsidering Pannenberg’s Eschatological Ontology’, by Benjamin Myers (pp. 141-155)


Summary Wolfhart Pannenberg’s eschatological ontology has been criticised for undermining the goodness and reality of finite creaturely differentiation. Drawing on David Bentley Hart’s recent ontological proposal, this article explores the critique of Pannenberg’s ontology, and offers a defence of Pannenberg’s depiction of the relationship between difference and totality, especially as it is presented in his 1988 work, Metaphysics and the Idea of God. In this work, Pannenberg articulates a structured relationship between difference and totality in which individual finite particularities are preserved and affirmed within a coherent semantic whole. Creaturely differences are not sublated or eliminated in the eschatological totality, but they are integrated into a harmonious totality of meaning. This view of the semantic function of totality can be further clarified by drawing an analogy between Pannenberg’s ontological vision and Robert W. Jenson’s model of the eschatological consummation as a narrative conclusion to the drama of finite reality.