Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Letters: Pannenberg and Barth


Someone I follow on Twitter, Moltmaniac, has posted some correspondence between Karl Barth and Wolfhart Pannenberg. You can find the letter here.

The praise Barth heaps upon Pannenberg has its balance in his observation that they are likely "separated" people. He seemed to be looking for someone who could surpass his theological achievement, but alas, neither Pannenberg nor Moltmann could do so. In response, Pannenberg makes it clear that he is disappointed in the response because he had hoped Barth would see his indebtedness to Barth and his need to respond to a different set of intellectual challenges. While Barth largely responded to the theological issues of the 1800s, Pannenberg and Moltmann had the challenges of the post-war period to face. Calling them children of peace and promise, however, is not a bad thing, even if Barth thinks they did not fulfill their potential.

In any case, the exchange is interesting. It shows that Barth could be harsh toward those with whom he disagreed. Pannenberg has said that Barth did appreciate criticism from his students. Pannenberg has drunk deeply from the well of Barth, even if at the same time feels a need to move onward.

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