Time and Eternity

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Jerry Shugart, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. Jerry Shugart

    Jerry Shugart
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    Is the eternal state endless time or an absence of time?

    William Ames (1576-1655) was one of the foremost of Reformed thinkers, often known as "the Learned Doctor Ames" because of his great intellectual stature among Puritans, said:

    "Thereis properly only one act of the will in God because in Him all things are simultaneous and there is nothing before or after. So there is only decree about the end and means, but for the manner of understanding we say that, so far as intention is concerned, God wills the end before the means." (William Ames, The Marrow of Theology, translation and introduction by John,Dystra, Eudsen, [Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1968], 153-154).

    John Wesley (1703-1791) is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement said the following:

    "God foreknew those in every nation those who would believe, from the beginning of the world to the consummation of all things. but, in order to throw light upon this dark question, it should be well observed, that when we speak of God’s foreknowledge, we do not speak according to the nature of things, but after the manner of men. For, if we speak properly, there is no such thing as either foreknowledge or afterknowledge in God. All time, or rather all eternity, (for the children of men,) being present to him at once, he does not know one thing in one point of view from everlasting to everlasting. As all time, with everything that exists therein, is present with him at once, so he sees at once, whatever was is, or will be, to the end of time" (John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 1771, Second Series, On Predestination, Sermon #58; Christian Classics Ethereal Library).

    Are these men right or wrong?
     
  2. The Biblicist

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    Wouldn't it be more consistent to say that "as far as intention is concerned, God wills the end WITH the means"? as his statement is nether logically or chronologically correct to say "before" the means?

    What is this but pure vain speculation when the Holy Spirit Himself expresses God's purpose by using tenses??? Does he really think He can improve upon God's own expressions???

    So, The Holy Spirit spoke improperly? I think it is a foolish waste of time to speculate contrary to what the Holy Spirit expresses by inspired scripture! Time is a reality in regard to anything created because it is a measurement of its length of existence. The only reason that Time has no application to God is because God has no beginning or ending point and therefore impossible to measure by that standard.

    To do as some on this forum and speculate that since God has all things eternal in thought is the same as substance of all things is nothing other than pantheism.
     
  3. Jerry Shugart

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    We read the following in Loraine Boettner's book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination:

    "Much of the difficulty in regard to the doctrine of Predestination is due to the finite character of our mind, which can grasp only a few details at a time, and which understands only a part of the relations between these. We are creatures of time, and often fail to take into consideration the fact that God is not limited as we are. That which appears to us as 'past,' 'present,' and 'future,' is all 'present' to His mind. It is an eternal 'now'...Just as He sees at one glance a road leading from New York to San Francisco, while we see only a small portion of it as we pass over it, so He sees all events in history, past, present, and future at one glance" (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination [Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1932]).

    R.C. Sproul has been an ardent advocate of Calvinism and is a prolific author who has written more than 60 books. In one of his more recent books he speaks of the differences between man and God:

    "One of the chief axioms taught by John Calvin was expressed by the Reformer in the Latin phrase 'Finitum non capax,' 'The Finite cannot grasp (or contain) the infinite.' Because God is infinite in his being and eternal, and we are finite and bound by both space and time, our knowledge of him is never comprehensive. We enjoy an apprehensive knowledge of God, but not a comprehenseive knowledge" (R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology? [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005],32).
     
  4. The Biblicist

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    The problem here is that Boettner provides no BIBLICAL foundation for rejection of Holy Spirit revelation through use of tenses. They simply assert their PHILOSOPHICAL conjectures based upon human reason.

    The truth is that man is confined to time and is a creature of time and can be measured by time as can everything created and so God properly presents that measurement in regard to creation. Time can only measure what has a beginning point because time requires a reference point to be defined as time. For example, it is a vain question to ask youself what time is it, if you have no reference point to tell time by!

    God's entire existence does not exclude time. He is involved with time and predestination merely predetermines the nature and extent of His involvement within the confines of time. Although he transcends creation in regard to his own infinite nature he does not transcend creation in regard to his own involvement. His involvement with time can be measured in connection with whatever involvement He has with creatures. The tenses of scripture in regard to God's invovlement with time are accurate and true rather than mere philosophical pseudo concepts.
     
  5. Jerry Shugart

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    "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am" (Jn.8:58).

    Arthur C. Custance wrote that "The subject of the conversation had been the patriarch Abraham. The Lord took Abraham's time as the pivot and spoke of two periods balanced on either side, namely, the ages which preceded Abraham, and all that followed (including the present). He then deliberately picked up the present and put it back before Abraham, but still referred to that distant period in the present tense. Though it was centuries ago, to Christ it was 'now.' Even if He were here today, He would still refer to the time before Abraham as the 'present' time. Why? Because He is God, and to God there is no passage of time, but all is 'present.' The reaction of the Jewish authorities to His statement suggests that in some strange way they had understood what He meant. The mystery of God's name, as revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:13,14--'the One who is existing always in the present'--is unlocked here and undoubtedly determined the Lord's choice of words in speaking to the Jews" (Arthur C. Custance, Time and Eternity, Chapter 4).

    Martyn Loyd-Jones explains God's relationship to time in the following manner:

    "God is like a man making a watch or clock — He Himself is outside it, He exists without it, He is not a part of it. The watchmaker makes the watch, he winds it up, he sets it going, he is outside the process but he initiates the process, he sets the hands in motion. That may help us a little to understand the relationship of God to time. But, according to this biblical teaching, God set the process going and He keeps it going" (Martyn Loyd-Jones, God and Time).
     
    #5 Jerry Shugart, Dec 8, 2011
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  6. The Biblicist

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    Mr. Cunstance provides a more scriptural foundation for his argument. However, the audiance of Christ did not see that Christ's statement was making such a philosophical claim. Rather they took up stones to stone him because they recongized that "I AM" in connection to Abraham's time of existence was a direct claim to "I AM" in Exodus 3:14.

    The very TENSE necessarily implies three things about God (1) Immutably the same; (2) Thus ETERNALLY the same; (3) Thus Self-Subsistant.

    Hence, the present tense "I Am" is the right tense to declare the infinite nature of God in regard to all created things.
     
  7. Eric B

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    Even science (the particular field called String Theory) is acknowledging that space and time were created. That the energy wave "strings" that make up matter also make up spacetime itself, and when you go below the length of strings (decillionths of a meter), space and time break down, and you're basically in what's called a "non-commutative" realm. (Points aren't connected by measurable distance and duration as we know them).

    It was an excellent acknowledgement that the material world was not all there is and that you could be outside of them. (Then, at some point, they stopped talking about this as much, and focused on a large 11th dimension in which 3D universe "branes" collide, creating "big bangs" in them).
     
  8. Jerry Shugart

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    Thanks! If my memory serves me right I believe that Einstein said that if space did not exist then "time" would not exist.

    A correct understanding of the following verse demomstrates that God is not bound by time:

    "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Pet.3:8).

    Here we see a speeding up of timke at the same time that we see a slowing down of time. That can only mean that with God time is irrelevant and He is certinly not bound by time in anyway, shape or form.

    Martyn Loyd-Jones writes, "In the first place, Peter tells us that God is altogether above time. ‘Beloved, be not ignorant of this, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.’ That is the principle; God is eternal, God is above time. We must never think of God as being involved in the time process or in the flux and movement of time and history — God is altogether above time. It is almost impossible for us to grasp such a thought and such a concept, and yet it is a very vital principle. We, being creatures of time, of necessity think in terms of time. God is altogether above and beyond and outside it, so that when we are thinking of the purposes of God, it is always dangerous to exaggerate this time element. God Himself, being eternal, is right outside it. To Him a thousand years are but as one day and one day as a thousand years. In other words, He does not live at all in the realm, or in terms of, the time process" (Martyn Loyd-Jones, God and Time).
     
  9. The Biblicist

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    I never asserted that God can be confined to time but that does not mean that time is not real in regard to everything that has a beginning. Neither does that deny that God works in the realm of time. Neither does that deny a BEFORE time point versus an AFTER specific point in time point. Thus the Holy Spirit uses tenses in His written revelation in regard to describe what literally and actually occurred previous to the time continuum ("before the world") versus what occurs "from the beginning of the world."

    God exists previous to time but He also exists parallel with time and thus His presence, power and acts can be measured by time as they occur in the time continuum. To say He exists only outside of time in a continuous present I believe is simply philosophical nonsense. Just because God cannot be measured by time does not demand that He does not exist parallel with time and His decrees may accurately be said to precede time or that his actions occur in time. God and time are not antithetical except when it comes to measuring his own existence.

    To claim that God is in an eternal present IN ORDER TO explain way the inspired use of tenses to describe his decrees before the world began versus the carrying out of those decrees from the beginning of the world is not only philosophical nonsense but serious error as it is attempt to repudiate the inspiration of the scriptures and the use of tenses by the Holy Spirit.
     
    #9 The Biblicist, Dec 10, 2011
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  10. Jerry Shugart

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    No one said that God does not interact with things which exist in time. Earlier I quoted Martyn Loyd-Jones saying:

    "God is like a man making a watch or clock — He Himself is outside it, He exists without it, He is not a part of it. The watchmaker makes the watch, he winds it up, he sets it going, he is outside the process but he initiates the process, he sets the hands in motion. That may help us a little to understand the relationship of God to time. But, according to this biblical teaching, God set the process going and He keeps it going" (Martyn Loyd-Jones, God and Time).

    God exists in "eternity" and that is God's domain:

    "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa.57:15).

    Of course since God existed in "eternity" before time began and He remains there then He exists outside of time. Loraine Boettner said the following in his book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination:

    "Much of the difficulty in regard to the doctrine of Predestination is due to the finite character of our mind, which can grasp only a few details at a time, and which understands only a part of the relations between these. We are creatures of time, and often fail to take into consideration the fact that God is not limited as we are. That which appears to us as 'past,' 'present,' and 'future,' is all 'present' to His mind. It is an eternal 'now'...Just as He sees at one glance a road leading from New York to San Francisco, while we see only a small portion of it as we pass over it, so He sees all events in history, past, present, and future at one glance" (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination [Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1932]).

    William Ames said:

    "Thereis properly only one act of the will in God because in Him all things are simultaneous and there is nothing before or after. So there is only decree about the end and means, but for the manner of understanding we say that, so far as intention is concerned, God wills the end before the means." (William Ames, The Marrow of Theology, translation and introduction by John,Dystra, Eudsen, [Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1968], 153-154).

    Is there actually a "future" and "past in a sphere where time does not exist?
     
    #10 Jerry Shugart, Dec 10, 2011
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  11. Eric B

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    String theory is tied up in quantum mechanics, which Einstein was really skeptical of. (It appeared to violated some principles of Relativity). So it figures he would not go for the spaceless/timeless concept. (Which basically poses essentially a new kind of "aether", which was the pre-Einsteinian assumption he refuted). Though it does seem to be the best prospect for the ultimate theory Einstein was trying to put together.
     
  12. Jerry Shugart

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    When forced to summarize the general theory of relativity in one sentence Einstein said:

    "Time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter."

    Therefore I would think that if he was asked if time existed before the creation of the universe he would answer, "No."
     
  13. AresMan

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    Because time and space are interrelated, if God were subject to time (as open theists assert), God would also be subject to space. God would have physical boundaries.

    Job 9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.

    Psa 104:2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

    Isa 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

    Isa 42:5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

    Isa 44:24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;


    We know from physics that the universe is expanding, which, according to the Kalaam argument would mean that it had a beginning. Spacetime and energymatter must all have a point of origin, yet the First Cause must not be defined by His own finite creation.

    It is ludicrous to believe that God in His eternal state is bound by time. He can, and does, interact with spacetime and energymatter, but He is not bound by His own creation.
     
  14. Jerry Shugart

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    No one said that God does not interact with things which exist in time.

    Earlier I quoted Martyn Loyd-Jones saying:

    "God is like a man making a watch or clock — He Himself is outside it, He exists without it, He is not a part of it. The watchmaker makes the watch, he winds it up, he sets it going, he is outside the process but he initiates the process, he sets the hands in motion. That may help us a little to understand the relationship of God to time. But, according to this biblical teaching, God set the process going and He keeps it going" (Martyn Loyd-Jones, God and Time).

    God exists in "eternity" and that is God's domain:

    "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa.57:15).

    Of course since God existed in "eternity" before time began and He remains there then He exists outside of time. Loraine Boettner said the following in his book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination:

    "Much of the difficulty in regard to the doctrine of Predestination is due to the finite character of our mind, which can grasp only a few details at a time, and which understands only a part of the relations between these. We are creatures of time, and often fail to take into consideration the fact that God is not limited as we are. That which appears to us as 'past,' 'present,' and 'future,' is all 'present' to His mind. It is an eternal 'now'...Just as He sees at one glance a road leading from New York to San Francisco, while we see only a small portion of it as we pass over it, so He sees all events in history, past, present, and future at one glance" (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination [Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1932]).

    William Ames said:

    "Thereis properly only one act of the will in God because in Him all things are simultaneous and there is nothing before or after. So there is only decree about the end and means, but for the manner of understanding we say that, so far as intention is concerned, God wills the end before the means." (William Ames, The Marrow of Theology, translation and introduction by John,Dystra, Eudsen, [Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1968], 153-154).

    Is there actually a "future" and "past in a sphere where time does not exist?
     
  15. Jerry Shugart

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    Right!

    Do you believe what Loraine Boettner said here in his book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination:

    "Much of the difficulty in regard to the doctrine of Predestination is due to the finite character of our mind, which can grasp only a few details at a time, and which understands only a part of the relations between these. We are creatures of time, and often fail to take into consideration the fact that God is not limited as we are. That which appears to us as 'past,' 'present,' and 'future,' is all 'present' to His mind. It is an eternal 'now'...Just as He sees at one glance a road leading from New York to San Francisco, while we see only a small portion of it as we pass over it, so He sees all events in history, past, present, and future at one glance" (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination [Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1932]).

    Thanks!
     
  16. AresMan

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    Yes, pretty much.
     
  17. Jerry Shugart

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    Good!

    Then do you agree with William Ames here?:

    "Thereis properly only one act of the will in God because in Him all things are simultaneous and there is nothing before or after. So there is only decree about the end and means, but for the manner of understanding we say that, so far as intention is concerned, God wills the end before the means" [emphasis mine] (William Ames, The Marrow of Theology, translation and introduction by John, Dystra, Eudsen, [Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1968], 153-154).

    Since in the eternal state there is nothing "before" and "after" then what can be said about the following verse?:

    "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love"
    (Eph.1:4).

    Since all things with God in the eternal state are simultaneous and with Him there is no "before" ot "after" then common sense dictates that even though we are chosen before the foundation of the world it could also be said that we were chosen when we believe.

    After all, with God the same moment with Him that happened before the foundation of the world is the very same moment when we believe.

    That is the meaning of the word "simultaneous": "existing, occurring, or operating at the same time: 'simultaneous movements' " (The American College Dictionary).

    What do you think?

    Thanks!
     

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