ion of Father, Son, and Spirit—[is] the free origin of himself and his creation."307 One difficulty posed by the depiction of the temporal relation of the eternal Father is immediately evident in these sentences. Statements about the eternal God who does not exhibit Trinitarian differentiation are often hardly distinguishable from statements about the eternal Father as a person within the Trinity. In Pannenberg's work, it becomes very clear how the talk of Father and Creator becomes possible only in the reciprocal relation especially between Father and Son, because the starting point for the otherness and the independence of creation lies in the Father's devotion to the Son and the Son's humble self-differentiation from the Father.308
The creative act of God is to be conceived as an eternal act. It is inadequate to think of creation as an act in time; it can be adequately conceived only as the construction of the finite reality of created beings together with time as their form of existence. In contrast, God's preservational act as cre-atio continua is structured temporally. In preserving and ruling, God becomes involved with time as the existential form of creation.309 There need be no contradiction between the historicity and contingency of divine action in preserving creation and the eternity of God in the act of creation. Both can be asserted under the condition that God's immutability be interpreted as an expression of God's faithfulness. This interpretation allows room, on the one hand, for an evolution, a becoming, in Godself, as the dynamic nature of the Trinitarian relationships; on the other hand, God's eternity is expressed over the course of time as the faithfulness of divine creative love. Furthermore, this concept enables one to conceive of a process overarching creation that allows eternity and time to coincide only in the eschato-logical consummation of history.310
Holding together conceptually the eternal act of creation and the temporally structured, preserving, and ruling acts of God paves the way for "an attempt to think of the eschaton as the creative beginning of the cosmic process."311 This also solves the problem that God's foreknowledge, from the time of creation forward, would rob the world of its contingency and necessarily lead to determinism. If, namely, "the eschatological future of God in the coming of his kingdom is the standpoint from which to understand the world as a whole,"312 then the beginning of the world can no longer be thought of as a self-contained, unchangeable foundation of the entire world; it is then "merely the beginning of that which will achieve its full form and true individuality, only at the end."313
If God's eternity were appropriately and adequately described as timelessness or infinite time, then a philosophical, undifferentiated concept of God would suffice. If, however, incorruptibility and pre-temporality, as well as omnipresence314 and temporal powerfulness, belong to God's eternity, then the discussion quickly turns to the eternal Spirit and, even more quickly, to the eternal Son. The latter is probably connected to the fact that the difference between the Son and the Father seems clearer than the difference between the Spirit and the Father. While either the Father or the Spirit alone seems to be able to represent divinity as a whole, the Son participates in the eternal Godhead only through his relationship to the Father and, thus, through his differentiation from this Father.315
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