One on One: AMR and JCWR on the Temporality of God

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I apologize for my lack of response to your posts. Your thoughts are very deep for me as I am not a native English speaker. I had to ask some of my old seminary teachers to help me understand your words. I used to think my English written comprehension was quite good, but your posts have humbled me now. haha!

Frankly, after reading your materials I am finding so little I can disagree with. My original thinking about God being in time has been strongly challenged by you. It seems as if there is no real reason to challenge the timelessness of God other than from the libertarian free will view. I am not sure that view is sufficient a motivation to alter the traditional view of God and time.

I agree that you have made your case as we agreed and that means I have to concede this debate to you. I don't mind "losing" a debate because it means I have "won" some new knowledge from my opponent, so I appreciate that.

Before we close off our debate I wonder if you would mind telling me exactly what your definition of time would be?

Thank you, JCWR

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JCWR said:
Before we close off our debate I wonder if you would mind telling me exactly what your definition of time would be?

It is difficult for finite humans to discuss time when applied to God. We end up using temporal terms struggling to capture atemporal concepts. Often we read that God was before time, yet the very word before is a temporal word. Without time there was no before or after. But using before time is convenient for the atemporalist to use when referring to the eternal nature of God as being apart from creation, a creation which included the creation of time. Probably a better way, albeit metaphorical, is to think of the spatial use of the word before, as in “stand before me”, then we can say that God is standing before time.

Scripture never gives us a definition of time. I prefer start with God’s infinity. Infinity applied to time is eternity and infinity applied to space is omnipresence (some would use immensity). By infinity I do not mean mathematical concepts, which are unhelpful in discussing the nature of God. Instead by infinity I mean that no creature can impose limits on God, and/or God’s attributes are supremely (maximally) perfect, without any flaw whatsoever.

It was the Socinians believed that God’s eternity meant that He has no beginning nor end, which is more accurately a description of everlasting—persisting through time rather that transcending time. The Socinians and their modern day ideological progeny deny exhaustive divine foreknowledge, and from this starting point, necessarily believe that God is not above or outside of time.

The definition of time runs the gamut from “succession of moments” to “motion”. I do not believe any of these definitions capture the essence of time. Unfortunately, nouns are just not always amenable to the description of their essence! We have no problem using the word time quite naturally, until someone asks us to define it or its essence. Then everyone runs to the philosophers. I am of the opinion that if we have the ability to use the word time in its everyday settings, we have a sufficient understanding of it and there is no need to define it. I question whether any definition would be possible to capture the essence of time as they all derive from our creaturely existence within time. Probably a good workable definition of time is that it is a means created by God by which His creatures can measure the flow of events.

As I have argued earlier, God knows perfectly what to us is the past, present, and future. God, from a lofty height, sees them all laid out before Him equally vividly. This does not mean all times are indistinguishable to God. He certainly knows that an event happened in His creation on 9-11-2001 or that some other event happened on Tuesday. This is because God understands the process by which one event flows into the next event. Nevertheless, God does not sense one moment of His own transcendent consciousness flowing into another. But God fully understands the process by which time flows in the creaturely world He created. Since God can do this, it means God’s experience of time is very different than ours—His relationship to time in ontologically unique.

JCWR: I appreciated your willingness to have this discussion. I am sorry that there was not more "clash" between us for the entertainment of the readers. Good luck, sir, in your ongoing studies!
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