Monthly Archives: April 2016

Wolfhart Pannenberg Paper

I have turned in my final required paper prior to working on my dissertation. It was a paper on Wolfhart Pannenberg’s views on God’s essence, attributes, and unity. The paper can be found on

The idea of even attempting to discover God’s essence is both daunting and fearful. How dare a mere mortal attempt to discover God’s very essence. It is a scary prospect. Pannenberg did not think it should not at least be attempted. He makes it plain on fifteen different occasions God’s essence is God’s love. Here is the introduction to the paper:

Wolfhart Pannenberg (1929-2014) was a German theologian who, starting in 1991 through 1998, released a three volume set entitled Systematic Theology.[1] As a prelude to the release of the three volume set, he released an introductory publication Introduction to Systematic Theology.[2] E Frank Tupper believes, “The work of Wolfhart Pannenberg constitutes one of the most significant theological developments in the history of modern theology.”[3]

Pannenberg placed a substantial emphasis on the use of reason and the study of history as part of his methodology. Stanley Grenz states, “Pannenberg has repeatedly been described as a rationalist. Several conservative critics have found aspects of his rationalistic approach problematic for the relation between faith and reason.” Grenz continues, “Pannenberg has failed to see the human problem of spiritual blindness goes deeper than merely a lack of historic evidence.”[4]

Pannenberg believed the understanding sought by contemporary Christians necessitated a joining of the two horizons of history and reason. Jim Halsey expresses this view referring to Pannenberg’s position, “Thus the text is only understood when the whole of the history which forms the continuity between past and present is grasped.”[5] Daniel Clendenein remarks concerning the reasoning aspect of Pannenberg’s methodology, “In the words of the contemporary German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg: ‘Every theological statement must prove itself on the field of reason and can no longer be argued on the basis of unquestioned presuppositions of faith.’”[6]

Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology Volume One presents Pannenberg’s discussion of God’s essence and attributes. His arguments and methodology concerning God’s essence attributes and the difference between them are worth the attention of the twenty-first century Christian. Therefore, this author has chosen to review the Unity and Attributes of the Divine Essence, as found in Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology Volume One Chapter Six.

[1] Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991–1998).


[2] Wolfhart Pannenberg, Introduction to Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991).


[3] E. Frank Tupper, “The Christology of Wolfhart Pannenberg,” Review and Expositor 71, no. 1 (1974): p. 57.


[4] Stanley Grenz, The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg, Carl E. Braatan and Philip Clayton eds. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), p. 23.

[5] Jim S. Halsey, “History, Language, and Hermeneutic: The Synthesis of Wolfhart Pannenberg,” Westminster Theological Journal 41, no. 2 (1978): p. 283.


[6] Daniel Clendenin, “What the Orthodox Believe,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1997), np.



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