The only true foundation for anthropology

Atheists reduce Religion/Theology to a chapter within anthropology. This, of course, removes any claim to validity for Christianity. It just gets lumped together with other ‘superstitions.’

In response, theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg claims that the Godness of God and not human religious experience must have first place in theology. (Quoted in Michael Jensen’s post Pannenberg on Anthropology at

apeman‘Theologians will be able to defend the truth precisely of their talk about God only if they first respond to the atheistic critique of religion on the terrain of anthropology. Otherwise all their assertions, however impressive, about the primacy of the Godness of God will remain purely subjective assurances without any serious claim to universal validity.’1

Jensen summarises, ‘He maintains, furthermore, that rejecting this anthropological ground is in fact conceding the ground to anthropological suppositions – by reducing theology to mere subjectivity.’

So, I think Pannenberg says:

1 Anthropology is actually a chapter within theology, not the other way around.

2 Christians must debate the issue on anthropological grounds, or there is no common ground upon which to engage the atheists in debate. In other words, they have won the boxing match by default because we won’t enter the boxing ring.

Jensen asks, ‘Which way are evangelicals going to swing on this?’

To mix metaphors, don’t swing in a boxing ring that doesn’t exist! The foundation of the atheists’ anthropology is fiction.

It is helpful if, for anthropology, we read HISTORY.

The compromise by most evangelicals on the historicity of great tracts of Scripture has left them bloodied and limbless, lying on the ground shouting “Come back here and I’ll bite you to death.”

Only a clear stand against pop-anthropology, pop-science and pop-history (a wholesale rewriting of man’s past) will avoid the embarrassment of defending our faith with the sad rubber sword of the gnostic. Many of us are defending a book we don’t really have the faith to believe.

The atheists have their physical ‘history’ as a foundation. Any compromise with it – against the clear teaching of the Bible – leaves us fighting it with no more than a philosophy disconnected from this perceived ‘reality.’ No wonder they designate Christianity as superstition. At least these critics are consistent. Their ‘history’ supports their faith.

For many evangelicals, this is not the case. Talking about the Godness of a God who gave us a book that apparently gets history wrong is idiocy. We kid ourselves to claim any validity for this legless hybrid.

The statement that rejecting this anthropological ground is in fact conceding the ground to anthropological suppositions – by reducing theology to mere subjectivity – assumes their history requires Christian interpretation but is basically sound, and thus an outright rejection of ‘history’ concedes the debate. Fair enough, but…

…the assumption is flawed, and the attempt at reinterpretation futile.

Let the Bible be the history it is and there is no debate. Only an ultimatum. If only evangelicals were as consistent as their critics.



1  Wolfhart Pannenberg, Anthropology in Theological Perspective, p. 15. My emphasis.

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