Second of Two Parts

Clark Pinnock’s aim in this article, he says, is “to highlight a few of the basic themes important both to Pannenberg and to us evangelicals.” In Part One (November 5 issue) he discussed a theology of reason, revelation as history, and revelation as Scripture.

Jesus and the Kingdom

In his theology Pannenberg places tremendous stress on the future, seeing in the concept of the coming kingdom of God the most important truth about reality, a truth that overshadows all others. According to Jesus’ message, the future is not an enemy to be feared but the blessed goal toward which history is moving under the hand of God. For some time New Testament scholars have been aware of the apocalyptic element in the teaching of Jesus, but they have been uncertain what to do with it. The idea of an end event in which all the dead are raised and the glory of God is finally revealed for all to see seemed strange to modern thinking and a point of embarrassment to the exegetes.

True to his calling as the reverser of theological trends, Pannenberg has intervened in the discussion, arguing boldly that this very motif in the teaching of Jesus must be recovered as the key of the whole Christian message even for today. Jesus was open to the future God had promised, and calls all men to faith and hope. In a final event at the end of history, God will be vindicated as God of all peoples, and the hopeful longing of all the ages will finally be realized.

Pannenberg has managed to hoist apocalyptic out of oblivion and give it an honored place in a systematic theology of universal history. One might hope that the centers of interest in prophecy and apocalypticism in North American evangelicalism will take note of Pannenberg’s contribution ...

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