Friday, October 7, 2011

Pannenberg on Risk, Community, and Spirituality

My review copy of the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality arrived in the mail Wednesday. I was flipping through it and the entry for Wolfhart Panneberg caught my eye. I'll quote a paragraph:

He recognized that those who seek to control their lives and to protect themselves from hurt inflicted by others or by the way the world works actually close themselves off from what God is seeking to do in their lives. Here Pannenberg built on the foundations laid by Martin Buber, a Jewish philosopher, and Karl Barth, a Reformed theologian. Living as we do in a dangerous world, Pannenberg discerned that safety, or at least the offer of safety, is a great temptation to compromise. However, it is only in "risking oneself outwards" toward the world, and ultimately toward God, that human beings find anything meaningful or worth living for. His writings help to frame the promise of Jesus, "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it" (Matt. 16:25), in a way that contemporary Christian spirituality can understand and appropriate. This message is especially important for those living in the West with its inclination toward a highly individualized and risk-averse spirituality (Morton, Christopher 653).

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