Thursday, 20 September 2007

Pannenberg: the historicity of nature

One forthcoming book which I’m looking forward to reading is the new collection of essays by Wolfhart Pannenberg, The Historicity of Nature: Essays on Science and Theology, to be published by the Templeton Foundation Press in November (there are more details here).

Pannenberg’s approach to science is summed up in this remark from his earlier volume, Toward a Theology of Nature: Essays on Science and Faith (WJKP, 1993), p. 16: “If the God of the Bible is the creator of the universe, then it is not possible to understand fully or even appropriately the processes of nature without any reference to that God. If, on the contrary, nature can be appropriately understood without reference to the God of the Bible, then that God cannot be the creator of the universe, and consequently he cannot be truly God.”

Personally, I think the opposite is the case: if God is truly God, then the processes of nature must be understandable without any reference to God. (Or to put it more sharply: God is himself the possibility of atheism). But in spite of that, I think Pannenberg’s fundamental insight is correct: in the question of the truth of theology, not only theology itself but everything else is at stake. And I reckon this is an absolutely indispensable correction to the Barthian tradition, in which theology tends to be neatly demarcated from all other disciplines.

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