The previous discussion of creation Pannenberg’s philosophical argument for the ontological priority of the future was examined, but after the discussion of eschatology it is necessary to return to the topic of divine action and examine his affirmation of the omnipotence of God. For Pannenberg, the examination of divine action cannot be separated from either the goal of creation or the faithfulness of God. Human beings are loved creatures of God and when viewed this way God’s interaction in the movement of existence takes a different shape. God is not understood as the invader of human freedom, but the one who facilitates freedom. Pannenberg states that “every creature is itself an end in God’s work of governance and therefore an end for his world government as well” (II, 53). If the world as a whole is the concern of this governance and each creature within it is of supreme value, then God’s governance must be involved in the “relations of the parts to one another” and not simply equated “with the providence that simply sees to the well-being of individuals in isolation” (II, 53.)
Here Pannenberg is drawing a distinction between two understandings of history. One view is the anthropological outlook which does not recognize the necessity of God’s governance for even the existence of contingency or interpretable existence. Over against this view Pannenberg argues that God must act to give the contingency of events its sequence, integrity, and meaning. Human actions do have purpose and even power within history, but God ultimately directs their course as the preserver and governor of history (II, 68). This identity is God’s because God is the eternal One, Creator and future of the world. Creaturely power within the contingency of existence, in the field of the possible, comes through creaturely participation in the “dynamic of the divine Spirit in creation,” making all human action for good or ill participate in Spirit’s consummation of creation (II, 98). Even the incarnation, God’s greatest investment into the workings of existence and means of actualizing God’s lordship, comes “without oppression and with respect for the independence of creatures” (II, 394). Short of the consummation of history Pannenberg asserts that all divine action contains an “element of the relative and provisional,” so it is only at the eschaton, the conclusion of God’s reconciling work for his creatures, that divine action is identifiable (III, 154).