Pannenberg turns from the Trinitarian identity of God to discuss the attributes of God from the perspective of God’s essence. He begins with the infinity of God and develops his understanding of holiness, eternity, omniscience, and omnipotence. For the infinite to function as the place of assimilation and imagination of the divine attributes, the infinite must be understood as that which is without end over against a quantitative definition (I, 397). The infinite is related to the holiness of God, both of which have movements of opposition, from that which is finite and profane, and embrace, in the infinite’s transcending of the finite and God’s renewed world where the profane in no longer a distinction between God and the world. This pattern of opposition and inclusion is then central to the essence of God and for understanding the other attributes of God. And thus, the eternity of God includes both its contrast with time and also the embrace of time.
Pannenberg utilizes Augustine’s discovery of duration so that the eternal present embraces all that is for is both past and future. The eternal God then does not have a future that contrasts with God’s present, because as eternal God is the absolute future. The omnipresence of God is then developed in relation to the eternity of God so that God is “present to all things at their existence” that fills heaven and earth (I, 410). God’s presence is understood in contrast to that of substance, for God’s presence simultaneously permeates and comprehends all things and this presence is extended to all of history because of God’s eternal nature. This concept of the omnipresence of God aids Pannenberg in explaining the tension between the transcendence and immanence of God because through the Trinity’s consubstantiality and perichoresis the Father is with the presence of the Son and near believers through the Son and Spirit. Omnipotence and omnipresence are mutually conditioning because without the establishment of God’s presence through the Spirit in the world God’s power could easily appear as tyrannical. Instead, the omnipotence of God is displayed best in the incarnation for “even when the creature emancipates itself from him he can save it from the nothingness to which it has subjected itself (I, 420). The omnipotence of God is thus characterized supremely by the self-giving of the Son, understood as the self-actualization of the deity itself, so the power of God is God’s omnipotent love.
From the conclusion of omnipotence as the power of divine love, the further attributes gathered wholly from the self-revelation of God are understood in light of the love of God. Love here functions in parallel to the infinite in the previous section. Love is then the concrete form of God’s essence determined by the self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ. In the life of Jesus the love of God found self expression. The Johannine saying, God is love, is then understood as the essence of God or God’s nature as love. The love of the Triune God is not to be understood as self-love, but self-giving love in relation to both the other persons and creation. Thus, the divine love constitutes “the concrete unity of the divine life in the distinction of its personal manifestations and relations” (432). This unity is reveled only in the consummation of the monarchy of the Father. Pannenberg then develops the attributes of divine love as the goodness, grace, righteousness, faithfulness, wisdom, and patience. Within each love is not a determining concept but the reality itself that unites them all. The goodness of God is seen as mercy for all, but in particular the poor and needy. The grace of God is related because it is the event of God’s favor resulting in reconciliation. The righteousness of God is extended to all creation by in Paul and has a function in relationship to both justice and salvation. The turning of God in love to God’s creatures connects the righteousness of God to God’s faithfulness, which finds its expression in the reconciliation of Christ.
The immutability of God’s will to save serves to connect the faithfulness of God to the patience of God for creation. It is the patience of God’s love that gives assurance of human freedom in the doctrine of God. The wrath of God is secondary to the patience of God’s will to save and is an outworking of God’s holiness when in contact with the unclean. God’s wrath has conversion as its goal and is set in context of the reconciliation of the world. The wisdom of God is then the expression of God’s transcendent will to save, which is embodied in history through Jesus and from its consummation rules over history as the power of love. The truth of these attributes of God rest in the consummation of God at the end of history. From there, when the retrospective confirmation of immanent Trinity is actualized in history, the unity of God will be revealed. The thought of divine love demonstrates itself to have Trinitarian structure and permits us to think of God’s relation to the world as grounded in God. These attributes of the Trinitarian God turn up again throughout the development of the economic activity of God from creation to consummation.