The connection between Pannenberg’s understanding of the Spirit and Eschatology is so strong I couldn’t untie the two into two separate series of posts, so they will be one longer series. Enjoy.
Eschatology is not a secondary doctrine for Pannenberg and as he argues at the end of his systematic, it is the central theme of Christian theology. The movement from the Father’s creation, to the Son’s incarnation, to the Spirit’s consummation of creation is all linked in an eschatological chain. During the discussion on creation it was noted that before the act of creation, God had determined to establish the kingdom of God in all of creation. The establishing the connection of the eternal Son to Jesus occurs in the discussion of Christology, but as of yet Pannenberg’s eschatological significance of the incarnation has yet to be explicated. For him the incarnation of the Son is understood to be the self-actualization of God in history.
The act of creation was a free act of God and with it came the incarnation as the means of actualizing the monarchy of the Father in the bringing of the immanent Trinity to full actualization in the world. After creation, creation itself became the landscape for the proving of God’s deity. This occurs through the incarnation of the Son of God and the reconciliation of the world through him. Pannenberg states that “as the Father sends the Son, he denotes his own absence, being present in the world through the Son. In some sense we may say the same thing about the act of creation by which the Creator gives creatures their own being” (II, 391).
In the self-distinction of the Son God’s absent presence is made known in all creation. The reconciliation of the world is accomplished through the love of God that gives the openness needed to give integrity to creation and the Christ event. This occurs primarily through the salvific work of the Spirit. Through the Spirit who gave new life to Jesus in the resurrection, the reconciliation of the world with God began in which the overcoming of mortality upon the defeat of death brings consummation by participation of the created world in the Triune God.