Shorter Reviews -- toward a Theology of Nature: Essays on Science and Faith by Wolfhart Pennenberg and Edited by Ted Peters

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Toward a Theology of Nature: Essays on Science and Faith, by Wolfhart Pannenberg. Edited by Ted Peters. Westminster/John Knox Press, Louisville, 1993. 166 pp. $19.95 (paper). ISBN 0-664-25384-9.

PAUL TILLICH DISTINGUISHED between kerygmatic and apologetic theology. While Pannenberg charts his own course in many respects, these essays are definitely apologetic, in the nuanced and aggressive Tillichian sense. The essays not only take into account recent trends in the sciences but also engage those who work within the sciences on their own terms, all in the quest for a viable Christian theology of nature in our time.

We can be grateful to Ted Peters, of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, for shepherding this worthwhile project (all the essays were previously published and are not easily accessible), and for providing a lucid and insightful introductory chapter, which itself is worth the price of the book. Otherwise the considerable import of these sometimes arcanely cast, but seminal, essays could easily be overlooked, except in the world of academic specialists.

The scope and depth of Pannenberg's argumentation is revealed most sharply in Chapters One and Five, "Theological Questions to Scientists" and "The Doctrine of the Spirit and the Task of a Theology of Nature." In the first chapter, and throughout these essays, Pannenberg makes much of a theologically shaped construct of contingency. …