The Christian Hope according to Bultmann, Pannenberg, and Moltmann -- By: Aaron Pyungchoon Park

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 33:2 (May 1971)
Article: The Christian Hope according to Bultmann, Pannenberg, and Moltmann
Author: Aaron Pyungchoon Park

The Christian Hope according to Bultmann, Pannenberg, and Moltmann

Aaron Pyungchoon Park

It is a well-known fact that the theology of Bultmann which has dominated Protestant theological thought for a decade is now in a rapid decline. Now, even those who consider themselves to be his disciples do not completely agree with him and have one thing or another to say against him and his theology. In the words of Dr. Carl F. H. Henry:

After ruling German theology for more than a decade, Rudolf Bultmann is no longer its king. Former students have usurped his throne and are scrambling for the spoils of conquest. While their loose-knit coalition of post-Bultmannian views tends as a whole to fragment Bultmann’s presuppositions, their own impact is blunted by internal disagreement. In other quarters anti-Bultmannian forces are challenging existentialist theology with increasing vigor. European critics heading this anti-Bultmannian offensive include the traditionally conservative school, the Heilsgeschichte movement, and the emerging “Pannenberg school.”1

Thus, as we accept the decline and fall of Bultmannian theology as a historical fact, it seems to be a reasonable thing for us also to say that the future of Protestant theology is being placed in the hands of those young theologians who are striving to build a theology on the remains of Bultmannian thought with a special emphasis upon the historicity of Jesus Christ and of his revelation. Among these young, post-Bultmannian theologians, we find Wolfhart Pannenberg of the University of Mainz and Jurgen Moltmann of the University of Tübingen to be most interesting. For they seem to have made a radical break with a subjectivistic and personalistic theology such as Bultmann’s and to have come out with a fascinating reinterpretation of the whole Christian message in terms of the

eschatological future of Jesus Christ and Christian hope which is directed toward it.

Today their theology, labeled as the “Theology of Hope” or “Theology as History” (or even the “Theology of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”), has become a focal point of discussion in theological circles. Carl E. Braaten, in his article, “Toward a Theology of Hope,” has said:

Just when it seemed that the Bultmannian existentialist translation of New Testament eschatology was to rule the day, a new movement towards the re-eschatologizing of theology was launched a few years ago in Germany. The leading bearers of this movement are Wolfhart Pannenberg and Jürgen Moltmann. They are grafting on to the rediscovery of eschatology at the turn of the century through the research of W...

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