I must begin by acknowledging that Congdon makes his comparative remarks about Moltmann and Pannenberg in a particular rhetorical context. At this point in his book, Congdon turns to a set of standard criticisms against Bultmann and identifies Moltmann, Oswald Beyer, and Robert Jenson as exemplars of these criticisms. This extended discussion (pp. 789–823) is one of the most interesting in the book insofar as it has a much more direct – or, perhaps I should say, tangible – bearing on contemporary theological conversations. In any case, while introducing his section on Moltmann, Congdon mentions Pannenberg and Käsemann as folks who – with Moltmann – were part of a shift from worrying about the theological relationship of the past to the present and to worrying about the future. It is while outlining this shift that Congdon stops to offer a footnote on “the differences between Pannenberg and Moltmann.” I give you the footnote below. As usual, bold is mine and italics are in the original.
The differences between Pannenberg and Moltmann are worth highlighting. While both offered sustained criticisms of both Barth and Bultmann, they carried out these criticism in distinctly different ways and with different understandings of eschatology. Pannenberg, whose views are strongly shaped by the German idealist tradition, understands the eschaton as the fulfillment of historical progress, so that salvation history is the universal goal of history as such. This is why he is so strongly attracted to the thinking of Jewish apocalyptic literature with its literal conception of the world’s imminent end and its cosmic, universal notion of redemption, and it is also why he connects his doctrine of revelation as history to the rehabilitation of natural theology, in contrast to Barth. Pannenberg’s eschatology is ultimately an exercise in apologetics, since he believes that the resurrection of Christ, as the proleptic inbreaking of the apocalypse, is historically verifiable. Moltmann shares Pannenberg’s claim that revelation is inherently future, meaning that the truth of God can only be known at the end of history, but he understands the eschaton as radically other than the history we experience or the history of the historians; it is a complete novum. This precludes any natural theology by which we could gain scientific access to revelation. Whereas Pannenberg’s eschaton is a chronological, quantitative future, Moltmann’s is a theological, qualitative future. In this regard, Moltmann is the more significant intervention in the theological scene, even if we must finally regard both as inferior to the still more radical and unsurpassed work of Barth and Bultmann. (790n232)