Wolfhart Pannenberg’s eschatological ethics and their application to ecological theology

Brian McKinlay


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Wolfhart Pannenberg’s eschatology directs attention to an outworking of God’s love in the world and is a thus potential resource for ethics concerned with nature and human society. This essay aims specifically to assess whether an eschatological perspective as seen in the work of Wolfhart Pannenberg may strengthen ecological ethics. It begins with a brief overview of the development of Christian thought concerning the ultimate fate of the Earth and the motivation for ecological theology. The main body of the discussion continues with an outline of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s eschatology and its relationship to creation. It will be seen that Pannenberg encourages an eschatological ethics based in God’s self as the ultimate good and God’s love for the world. From this can be drawn implications for ecological ethics in particular. The concept of humankind’s creation in the image of God is central to an understanding of humanity’s place in the natural realm and merits specific attention. Pannenberg’s eschatology is founded on his understanding of the causal priority of God’s future and it is this concept that is most criticised in his eschatology. Some of these criticisms are considered.