So I think we all agree that God exists outside of time, but also intervenes at certain points in history and even in the present (please correct me if I’m wrong). So here are my questions:
Isn’t “time” just a chronological categorization of occurring events?
If that is so, what about events that happen in God’s dwelling outside of time? Would it have something to do with time dilation?
What is God’s relationship to time? If he exists outside time, is everything in history happening all at once from God’s perspective - past, present, future - all occurring at the same time for him? Could this explain what scripture means in Revelation 13:8 where it says that “the Lamb was slain from the creation of the world”?
I realize this is quite a deep question, but I would appreciate it if we could have a discussion on this.
@Ryan_D_souza Honestly, this is one of those questions where I just admit I have no idea - but I did really enjoy reading Hugh Ross’ book (below) that gets into questions like this at a deeper level. It is speculation of course, but if you are wanting to think about these things at a deeper level I think it is a fun discussion. He talks about multiple dimensions and God’s proximity and all kinds of things of that nature.
Good questions, indeed! Obviously there is much to read on this issue. I have two professors here at Talbot School of Theology who have worked extensively on the question of God & Time, Greg Ganssle and William Lane Craig.
If you want to go deep here, you can start with Greg Ganssle’s entry in the IEP (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Here is the link:
Also, on Craig’s view, since we believe (know) God interacts in the physical cosmos, he argues that when God creates the universe, at say “time zero”, God enters into the space-time continuum He has created. This is obviously different than the classical view (say Boethius’ view) that God remains outside of the space-time continuum, and, as you mentioned, sees all of time as a sort of block of time; almost as if time was spatial. So, if God is outside of time and perceives all of the history of the universe spatially, then definitely something like your pt. 3 would be correct.
As to pt. 2, I am not familiar with the term “time dilation.” What do you have in mind there? Perhaps, the article from Ganssle might help with that part of your question.
It does seem that time is something that is phenomenologically dependent on change in the physical constituents of the universe. If there was not change, it seems that we would not experience time. Logically, it might be possible for time to proceed, even in a universe without physical change, but I don’t think we would be able to know that time is proceeding. Then, it seems, only God would know anything about ‘time’.
Hey guys. Thanks so much for your responses. Really appreciate it.
@SeanO thanks for the reference. Will pick up a copy. I’m also wondering about the multiple dimensions/universe theory - String theory if I’m not mistaken. A follow up to this question would be about the concept of immortality but I’ll make a separate thread on that one…
@anthony.costello thanks for the reference. Your answer is really helpful. I have heard Dr. Craig speak about this in one of his lectures but only in passing. I’ll definitely pick up a copy of the book you mentioned. About time dilation I’ve posted a link below, but basically it concerns the passage of time according to relativity.
I have nothing to add to your discussion gone before - in fact, I readily admit such knowledge is too high for me
But I see perhaps relative to this is something I learned sometime ago. One mystery of the Hebrew language is its 2 tenses: The “perfect and imperfect” that are related to ‘action’. Unlike our 3 English tenses related to time, Hebrew has no absolute tense concerning time. The perfect tense denotes an action that’s finished/complete/perfect and the imperfect of an action that’s unfinished/incomplete/imperfect.
Fascinating to me! Helps practically, in understanding for instance, how to pray, Mk 11:24, and then as I considered the overarching message of the Gospel - isn’t it to live by the perfect work of Christ. To see myself as God sees me and walking it out 'cause the work’s already Finished! It’s where the past, present and future all come together…isn’t it?
@salee Thanks for your response. Your comment about the Hebrew language is really insightful. I started studying Hebrew, but only got as far as the alphabet (lol… I must get back to it). Yes, you’re right about working out the perfect work of Christ. It all comes together. In fact the complete process of salvation covers past, present and future…
We have been saved: positionally from the penalty of sin (Eph 2:8, 9). Justification.
We are being saved: from the power of sin, operationally, by the Holy Spirit, moment by moment (Rom 6). Sanctification.
We shall be saved: from the presence of sin; after the resurrection. Glorification, or “the redemption of our body” (Rom 8:23).
I love these kind of questions and coincidental I was listening to Tom Bradford today who all got in there about several dimensions; 10, maybe 11 and God living outside of time.
For some reason it never really bothered me. Kind off feels natural to be honest for God to live in a non-time realm, although I have no clue how to answer the questions you ask. So I am kind off enjoying all the replies and try to get things into perspective.
Thank for these kind of questions. Love it. Makes you think