Lesson 39B Preview: Lecture on Wolfhart Pannenberg Video; Richard Bauckham Video Lecture on Jurgen Moltmann; John B. Cobb Video on “Omnipotence” (Process Theology); Liberation Theology and Marxism Videos; “Progressive Christianity” Video; John Polkinghorne Videos: God, Science, and Quantum Physics

Two Contemporary Theologians: Wolfhart Pannenberg and Jurgen Moltmann

“Wolfhart Pannenberg, (born on 2 October 1928 in Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland)) is a German Christian theologian. His emphasis on history as revelation, centred on the Resurrection of Christ, has proved important in stimulating debate in both Protestant and Catholic theology, as well as with non-Christian thinkers.” [Wikipedia]

Richard Bauckham discusses Jurgen Moltmann’s contributions in the video below. “Prof. Bauckham (born September 22, 1946) is a widely published scholar in theology, historical theology and New Testament. He is currently working on New Testament Christology and the Gospel of John as a Senior Scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.” [Wikipedia] Dr. Bauckham has published a study of Moltmann God Will Be All in All: The Eschatology of Jurgen Moltmann.

Jurgen Moltmann is a German Reformed theologian. The 2000 recipient of the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Moltmann was born in Hamburg. He described his German upbringing as thoroughly secular. His grandfather was a grand master of the Freemasons. At sixteen, Moltmann idolized Albert Einstein, and anticipated studying mathematics at university. The physics of relativity were ‘fascinating secrets open to knowledge’; theology as yet played no role in his life.” [Wikipedia]

Three Movements: Process Theology, Liberation Theologies, and Progressive Christianity

Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and further developed by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000). While there are process theologies that are similar, but unrelated to the work of Whitehead (such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) the term is generally applied to the Whiteheadian/Hartshornean school. Process theology is unrelated to the Process Church.” [Wikipedia]

John B. Cobb, Jr. (born February 9, 1925) is an American United Methodist theologian who played a crucial role in the development of process theology. He integrated Alfred North Whitehead‘s metaphysics into Christianity, and applied it to issues of social justice.” [Wikipedia]

In the videos below Cobb briefly discusses the Doctrine of Omnipotence, a key doctrine for Process theologians, and the Greek concept pistis used by Paul in his description of Christ’s faithfulness:

“Liberation Theology has been described by proponents as ‘an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor’s suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor’, and by detractors as Christianized Marxism.”  [Wikipedia]

The three videos below are all part of the same production. These segments offer a penetrating critique of Marxism’s influence on American culture,  and educational institutions and Christian theology in particular.

Note the following video recalls Walter Rauschenbusch in the early 20th century and his Social Gospel.  You will hear our speaker discuss Progressive Christianity. The following quote from Wikipedia defines their agenda:

Progressive Christianity is the name given to a movement within contemporary Christianity characterized by willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity with a strong emphasis on social justice or care for the poor and the oppressed (see Minority groups) and environmental stewardship of the Earth. Progressive Christians have a deep belief in the centrality of the instruction to “love one another” (John 15:17) within the teaching of Jesus Christ. This leads to a focus on compassion, promoting justice and mercy, tolerance, and working towards solving the societal problems of poverty, discrimination, and environmental issues.”

Theologians of God and Science: This field offers cutting-edge thinking about how quantum physics sheds new light on the traditional questions of Christian theology we have studied in Roger Olson’s book. We have already encountered British scientist (molecular biophysics) and theologian Alister McGrath in his debates with Richard Dawkins. (See our concluding Bonus Lesson for more of his videos.) His book The Science of God offers his vision for how we can integrate science and theology. It serves as a helpful preface to his 3-volume A Scientific Theology. John C. Polkinghorne, author of Quantum Physics and Theology and numerous other books, is a fellow and retired president, Queens’ College, Cambridge University. He writes his books from his “unique perspective as both a theoretical physicist and Anglican priest.” (from back cover of Quantum Physics and Theology). John Polkinghorne discusses below the new understanding of science, most importantly quantum physics, and theology.

Our final Bonus Lesson “The Lord is My Light” is available by clicking here. The lesson includes outstanding videos from Prof. Alister McGrath, theologian and Christian apologist currently Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at Kings College London. The final lesson also includes videos of two leading feminist theologians Rachel Muers, a Quaker, and Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza. Both have made important contributions to this field, with the German-born Fiorenza, a faculty member at Harvard Divinity School, having established herself as a leading international Catholic scholar in this area of specialization.

Quotations for Your Consideration: “If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” Wolfhart Pannenberg, “Revelation and Homosexual Experience” Christianity Today (November 11, 1996), 37.

“It is only when human beings see themselves simply as human beings, no longer as gods, that they are in a position to perceive the wholly other nature of God.  It is only when we cease to be unhappy supermen and pathetic mini-gods and permit ourselves to become human beings through and through again that we let God be God.” Jurgen Moltmann, source: God for A Secular Society

Lutheran Satire

Super True Stories: Paul’s Baptism Oopsie

Your Friends and Neighbors: Jim the Anabaptist Fireman

Things Your Pastor Totally Loves: Hearing Complaints from “Some People”

Questions for Discussion:

1. Dr. Tim Hull tells us that Wolfhart Pannenberg, as a young philosophy-theology student, discerned a major weakness in Marxism during his intense study of this philosophy. What was it? He also detected a significant weakness, he believed, in the Church Dogmatics of Karl Barth. What was it?

2. Pannenberg wrote about “Christology from above” and “Christology from below”. What is the presupposition that guides the “Christology from above” studies, according to Prof. Hull? How does Pannenberg want such a Christology project to be modified so “the most important task of Christology” can be accomplished? How would you summarize Prof. Hull’s description of how Pannenberg arrived at this judgment?

3. What was the genesis of the theological themes of hope and suffering in Moltmann’s theology?

4. Like Pannenberg, Moltmann studied and greatly respected the work of Karl Barth; however, also like Pannenberg, he discerned a shortcoming in Barth that suggested a theological project that could engage him. What was it?

5. According to John Cobb, what are the shortcomings of the concept of Omnipotence as it is typically used in discussions of God’s attributes?

6. How do Liberation theologians approach the issue of salvation, and how does their approach differ from Lutheran and Reform theology?

7. How would you summarize the Religious Left’s moral critique of American society and American religious life?

8. Marcus Borg describes Jesus’ significance in the video on Progressive Christianity. In light of our study of the many movements in the history of Christian theology, how would you describe his position on Christ?

9. Dr. John Polkinghorne expresses ideas in the video interview above that enable us to identify him as either a monergist or synergist. Which do you think he is? What ideas do you hear in his remarks that support your classification?  What is his position on the Doctrine of the Trinity?


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