Chalcedonian Christology, Pannenberg argues ( Jesus - God and Man (scm classics) , 344-5), presupposes an anthropology: “Openness to God is the radical meaning of that human ‘openness in relation to the world’ that constitutes man’s specific nature in distinction from all animals.”

He goes on: “only under this presupposition is there no deformation of the genuinely human reality of Jesus when Christian theology asserts that he received his personality, which integrated his life into a totality, from the Father, through his personal community with the Father, and that this personality was that of the Son of God. Conversely, through this event it becomes apparent that all human existence is designed to be personalized by its dependence upon God, to be integrated into a person through its relation to God the Father in such a way that men are constituted as persons by the Fatherly God in confrontation to Him.”

This doesn’t, Pannenberg insists, fill in the distance between Jesus and the rest of us. But it’s necessary to affirm that there is nothing in Jesus alien to us because “if . . . Jesus’ identity of person with the Son of God were completely alien to human ‘nature’ as such, the nineteenth-century objections to the doctrine of the enhypostasis of Jesus in the Logos would be justified. Jesus is the true and real man precisely as the ‘God-man,’ only because unity with God, ‘sonship,’ is man’s eternal destiny.”

Articles by Peter J. Leithart