TRINITY AND ESCHATOLOGY: THE HISTORICAL BEING OF GOD IN THE THEOLOGY OF WOLFHART PANNENBERG
OLSON, ROGER EUGENE
Doctor of Philosophy
Attempting to provide a revision of the Christian doctrine of God, Wolfhart Pannenberg combines eschatological and trinitarian motifs to express God's transcendence and historical relatedness to the world. The result is what may be called "eschatological panentheism." The concept of God as the "future of the world," while a powerful metaphor for divine transcendence, fails ultimately to satisfy the demand of Christian faith for a God absolutely independent of the world for his full actuality. In Pannenberg's panentheism, God's deity is "at stake" in history and will only be fully realized in the eschatological consummation of the totality of reality. History is the process of the self-realization of God through anticipatory unities which represent the immanence of the future. Jesus Christ is the supreme anticipation of God's future in that in him the eschatological unity of God and man is proleptically realized. The Holy Spirit is the anticipatory self-transcendence of man toward his future unity with all reality and is therefore himself the presence of God's future. Since God's deity is his Kingdom, the unity of all reality, Jesus and the Spirit belong to God's eternal essence insofar as they are crucial actuality of God as a "negative moment." Pannenberg's ontology represents God as the "truly Infinite" which attains absoluteness through a dynamic, dialectical process of positing and overcoming finite reality in himself. The underlying structure of this concept of the God-world relation is Hegelian. From the standpoint of Christian theism, this fails to account for the transcendent freedom to God in creation and redemption of the world which depends on an irreducible distinction between them. Instead of an activity of grace, God's redemption is conceived as a speculative necessity within God himself. A major factor in this idea of God is Pannenberg's quantitative notion of infinity which needs to be corrected by a qualitative concept of finite and infinite being in order to allow for their mutual reality-indistinction.