When I was in seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, I took a seminar class on Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) from an outstanding American, religious historian, Douglas Sweeney. I was so enamored with Edwards that I imagined that I would choose him as the focus of my academic pursuits. However, the following semester, I took a class on John Calvin, where I thought I would study the reformer. And then, I took a class on C.S. Lewis and so on and so on…. I have since moved my concentration to the study of the early church, and more specifically, to Augustine (believe it or not that is where I landed over a decade ago). I admit it – I am a dabbler; I am interested in so many things that I get overwhelmed at how much there is to learn and what little time I have.
So, in order to study different people (and not always be stuck on Augustine) , I started a regimen a few years back – to pick a theologian of interest and read her/him for the year. Now, I read others throughout the year, but I read the “chosen one”:o) four or five times a week, thinking carefully about the structure of his thought. This has enabled me to read other books with a bit more discernment (more on that in another entry).
This year, I am going to dive into Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology (3 volumes). Pannenberg taught at the University of Munich for many years before his retirement. He is not an evangelical theologian, but his influence cannot be overlooked. For example, Millard Erickson, an outstanding Baptist theologian, is heavily indebted to Pannenberg.
In the post Karl Barth era, I cannot think of a more influential scholar to come out of Germany. Professor Pannenberg is a rare breed, for he is well versed in philosophy, both ancient and modern; and he is incredibly learned in the history of Christian thought. These qualities make for a lethal theologian (think Herman Bavinck). Also, I think I picked Pannenberg because I didn’t really want to get started on Barth’s, Church Dogmatics.
I will post some interesting tid bits as I plow through this German giant!