* So Pannenberg uses masculine pronouns for God throughout his Systematic Theology and gives a weak argument keeping them, so I use them if I can’t get around them. But if you are wondering I don’t think God has male parts.
The Systematic Theology of Pannenberg is three volumes of an intricately developed Trinitarian theology that brings within itself the debatability of truth and gives priority to the eschatological future of creation. The weight of Pannenberg’s argument rests in the comprehensive analysis of the current theological situation and his inner coherency in responding to these challenges. In the face of truth’s deconstruction Pannenberg has developed a non-foundational theology that still retains truth, which for Pannenberg is synonymous with God, as the goal. While Pannenberg confesses that all theology ends in doxology to the infinite One who is beyond all human talk, he demonstrates that “in the process the conceptual contours do not have to lose their sharpness” and so they can “have the form of systematic reflection” (I, 55).
The inner working of Pannenberg’s systematic hinges on the coherent connection of its central concepts. The shape for the entire system is based on the first major concept he develops, that of systematic theology itself. Systematic theology, he concludes, must be a doctrine of God and nothing else, since Christian doctrine stands only with the reality of God. With the existence of God at stake throughout the presentation of Christian doctrine, Pannenberg must establish how to begin a discussion of God and where to ground the theology. It is here that he turns to his understanding of revelation. For theology to be proper God must be its theme and the truth of God is accessible only from God. Therefore, Pannenberg argues that the only valid theological truth comes from the self-revelation of God through God’s action in history. Christian doctrine centers on the self-revelation of God, primarily in Jesus Christ the Word of God. Jesus Christ as the Word of God, the definitive self-revelation of God in history, necessitates that God be understood as Triune prior to any other discussion of essence and attributes. Pannenberg’s understanding to the Trinity proves decisive for his entire proposal. History is understood as the self-actualization of God, namely the immanent Trinity’s coming to creation with the establishment of the monarchy of the Father. Knowledge of the doctrine of God will come fully only with the consummation of the world in the kingdom of God. God’s coming is the movement from creation to consummation, but important to Pannenberg is his concept of creation as an outward act of the eternal God from his freedom and love. The theatre of creation and history then becomes the location of God’s self-actualization. First, God brought creation to its birthing of humanity, which was necessary for creation to participate in the self-distinction of the eternal Son, but with the dignity of humanity came the misery of a universal sinfulness. The incarnation of the eternal Son in the person of Jesus enables the reconciliation of humanity and creation with God through the cross. The resurrection of Jesus brings the future consummation of creation into the proleptic present and in doing so sends forth the Spirit who brings eternity into time. The eternal God, prior to the act of creation, anticipates its eschatological consummation, and so for Pannenberg the movement from creation to incarnation to the eschaton is central to the identity of the Triune God and the conceptual framework of his theology.
* That last paragraph is an attempt at a summary of what he is going to do in three giant volumes. So it may be less intro-ish since it is full of his theological assumptions at work. Hopefully if you read the whole series this paragraph will make sense at the end.