The destiny of humanity : a study of Wolfhart Pannenberg's theological anthropology
This thesis intends to make a contribution to the understanding of human destiny with reference to Wolfhart Pannenberg. Our research is best described as a theological anthropology in a historical perspective as opposed to Pannenberg's secular anthropology in a theological perspective. We present history as a way to map out the movement of humanity over the course of its history to its common destiny from creation (chapter 2) through sin (chapter 4) and ethics to eschatology (chapter 5). Anthropology has been taken here as only the starting point for our study, which presents openness to the world or exocentricity (chapter 3) as an anthropological constant to historicity. Chapter 2 evaluates Pannenberg's assertion, based on Herder, that the full image of God is realised not from the beginning but only through the destiny of humanity, which lies yet in the future. However, we argue that Pannenberg differentiates himself from Herder in a crucial respect in that Pannenberg grounds Herder's anthropology on a christological foundation in order to present a salvific, rather than a providential, account of the renewal of the imago Dei. Chapter 3 delineates the reasons for the original human state being characterised by openness toward one's supernatural fulfilment, which is already present as a future destiny, and corresponds to the single saving event of Jesus Christ in history. Openness to God becomes, for Pannenberg, the bridge out of the poverty of the natural beginning point of humanity into the full realisation of human destiny. The aim of chapter 4 is to argue the case for defining sin explicitly in relation to human destiny, namely, as passivity to destiny. In our sin, we are robbed of our true identity, and the separation of sinners from God means at the same time our separation from our own destiny, which is communion with God. Chapter 5 opens with a more detailed examination of eschatology, and examines the deep structure of the later Pannenberg's system of ethics, which he now explicitly argues for an anthropological foundation, with a claim of universal validity. The final chapter concludes with arguments leading to the uniting of nature, essence and destiny of humanity as one.