A Search for the Body: Is there Space for Christ's Body in Pannenberg's Eschatology?



Pannenberg's thought makes a constant appeal to ‘anticipation’, and this concept depends on a metaphysical proposal, temporalized essentialism, which includes an account of eternity as simultaneity of all history in God. This view of eternity has been both applauded and criticized. This article considers Pannenberg's account of the body of the exalted Christ who is in eternity. Pannenberg affirms the resurrection of Jesus, but has no account of the nature of Jesus’ resurrected body. He emphasizes the church as the body of the exalted Christ, but describes this body as lacking particularity. His account of the Eucharist does not have any place for Christ's corporeal presence or for participation in Christ's exalted body. His account of the return of Christ is oriented to the revelation of the glorified unity of all reality in Christ. The reason that Pannenberg has no account of the body of Christ is due to his conception of eternity, a conception which differs markedly from that of Paul. The Pauline heavenly realm is part of the creation, and thus has a spatio-temporal relationship to the earthly realm as well as having a spatio-temporal dimension in itself. Pannenberg's conception of eternity is that it is outside of the created realm and has no spatial dimension. Douglas Farrow argues that a theology that lacks an account of the exalted body of Christ fails to have a proper account of the redemption of humanity and creation, and it seems Pannenberg's view is open to this criticism.