Central to the Christian faith is the affirmation that God is Creator and for Pannenberg the content of God’s act of creation must be developed in relationship to the infinite and eternal nature of God, while also affirming the radical freedom of God. Creation is understood to be a singular act of the eternal God outside of space and time; its origin is then in the freedom of God and not any form of dependence or dualism. When creation is described as the product of a free outward action of God’s willing and doing, it is clear that the existence of the world is neither necessary, contingent, nor arbitrary.
In volume one Pannenberg gives priority to the immanent Trinity and in its eternity locates the freedom of God and the locus of God’s relational action. God then does not need the world to be active, because the living God is the mutual relations of the Father, Son, and Spirit. In the act of creation all the persons of the Trinity act together in a movement out of the essence of God to create the world and it is this action that serves to distinguish the inner and outward work of God. The one God creates and relates to the world as Creator, Sustainer, Reconciler, and Consummator, but behind the economic relations remains the God who is in essence Father, Son, and Spirit. The action of creation is then the trinitarian life turned outward and it is the trinitarian life that serves as the basis for the relations of Creator and creation.
The economic relationship of the world to God is experienced as a historical sequence of events within the structures of time and space. As such, it is possible for these series to find unity only in their end. The creative action of God apart from contact with the finite has no distinction between will and completion, but with the creation of finite beings the action of God creates a series of finite events experienced as a series within the structures of space and time that can be fully recognized in a future fulfillment. The God who is “independent in himself yet with the act of creation and in the course of history makes himself dependent on creaturely conditions for the manifestation of his Son in the relation of Jesus to the Father” makes the act of creation a free outward action of God for the inclusion of the world into the love of God (II, 7). This outward movement is located in the self-differentiation of the Son from the Father and the Son’s self-differentiating functions in creation as the Logos and is fulfilled in the incarnation.
Although Pannenberg does not describe nor give as much attention to the Spirit in this section as he does in volume three, the unity the Spirit brings to the Father and Son remains an important role latter in the life of Jesus and in the imagination of humanity. In volume three the Spirit, as a force field that creates the possibility of creation, becomes the context for the entire movement of creation to its consummation. Creation understood as an act of the eternal God that comes about economically in the self-differentiating relationship of the Father and the Son, finds the space created in this action economically ‘filled’ by the Spirit.