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January 11, 2001

Calvin Hosts Pannenberg

Wolfhart Pannenberg, one of the world's most influential theologians, will speak at Calvin College on Monday, March 5, 2001 in a 7:30 p.m. address in Gezon Auditorium that is free and open to the public. His address will be titled: "The Task of Christian Eschatology."

"This should be a very interesting address," says Calvin dean of the chapel Cornelius Plantinga. "Eschatology is central to Christian theology, encompassing the second coming of Christ, the general resurrection, divine judgment and the new heaven and earth. Eschatology studies the end of the Christian story and pulls us forward as we work and pray in the same direction as we hope."

And, says Plantinga, in Pannenberg listeners will have a chance to hear a legendary theologian. "Wolfhart Pannenberg is now the giant in the land," he says, "the world's most substantial and accomplished theologian."

Pannenberg was co-chair of a study commissioned by the German Catholic and Evangelical bishops which produced a volume entitled "The Condemnations of the Reformation Era - Do They Still Divide?" The report demonstrated, said one reviewer, that the Catholic-Reformation condemnations of the 16th century should no longer be considered church divisive.

Born in 1928 in Stettin, Germany, Pannenberg began his theological studies at the University of Berlin after World War II and also studied at the University of Göttingen and the University of Basel. He completed his doctoral dissertation at the University of Heidleberg. He studied under theologians Karl Barth and Edmund Schlink, among others. He published his magnum opus, the three-volume Systematic Theology, in the 1990s. The work subsequently was translated into English and published by Eerdmans.

A review of Volume 3 for First Things, a journal of religion and public life, said simply: "Authors often await reviews with considerable anxiety, knowing that their work's impact and survival much depend on them. We may not picture Wolfhart Pannenberg so awaiting this piece. That he will have a place in future histories of modern theology is long since assured, by the extent of his scholarship, the energy of his speculation, and by his work's relation to modernity's canonical figures."

Pannenberg has drawn together religion and science through much of his life. He has also contributed substantially to the philosophy of history and the philosophy of science. Pannenberg will deliver six public lectures and participate in two all-day conferences while traveling the midwest.

Co-sponsoring his activities are the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, the University of St. Thomas, the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, Calvin College, and Loyola University of Chicago. Additional contributions have come from Luther Seminary, Bethel Theological Seminary and Macalester College in Minnesota as well as from the MacLaurin Institute of Minneapolis.

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Contact Phil de Haan.