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Thread: Common views of God and time.

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    ...then I woke up. Knight's Avatar
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    Common views of God and time.

    There are hundreds of different views on the subject of how God relates to time (i.e., the passing of events as perceived by God) but here on TheologyOnline.com the most common views seem to be.

    1. Calvinists who DO NOT believe God is outside of time but did in fact ordain every event at some point in the past.

    2. Calvinists who believe God IS outside of time and also ordained every event from eternity.

    3. Arminians who believe that God is outside of time but DID NOT ordain every event that comes to pass, yet He does bring certain events to pass.

    4. Open Theists who believe that God is not outside of time and DID NOT ordain every event that comes to pass, yet He does bring certain events to pass.

    Those four views seem to be the most common on TOL.
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    ...then I woke up. Knight's Avatar
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    AMR, what do you think about #1 (Calvinists who DO NOT believe God is outside of time but did in fact ordain every event at some point in the past.) are they more common in Calvinism than the "outside of timers" or less common? Or do you know?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight View Post
    2. Calvinists who believe God IS outside of time and also ordained every event at some point in the past.
    Please correct as follows:

    2. Calvinists who believe God IS outside of time and also ordained every event from eternity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post
    Please correct as follows:

    2. Calvinists who believe God IS outside of time and also ordained every event from eternity.
    All set.
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    I believe in the Eternal Now, that God does not experience "past" or "future," as both terms imply something that is lost or does not yet exist, but rather IS creating the heavens and the earth, IS giving Moses the ten commandments, IS revealing His throne to Isaiah, IS casting Satan into the lake of fire and burning sulfur.

    Psalm 90:2
    Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.


    "Time is a multifaceted jewel that humans for some reason insist on only viewing one face at a time."
    -Alan Moore, Watchmen

    In terms of God's manipulation of events, I tend to take the deist approach, at least insofar as to say that God created the universe to run on its own, and for the most part lets it do its job.

    When that involves human suffering (ie, natural disasters), we question God's involvement, but in doing so assume that it is only by His conscious effort that the universe is kept going.
    There is no evidence to support this mindset, IMO.

    Also, it has become something of a cop-out among certain circles to say that our vision is limited compared to God's...but THIS IS THE TRUTH.
    It just doesn't do much to console those who have lost loved ones due to circumstances beyond overt human control.
    “In many ways the evidence of our faith is found in our ability to control our tongue (or our keyboard)."
    -Adam Hamilton

    “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
    -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight View Post
    AMR, what do you think about #1 (Calvinists who DO NOT believe God is outside of time but did in fact ordain every event at some point in the past.) are they more common in Calvinism than the "outside of timers" or less common? Or do you know?

    This is not a common view among Calvinists.

    John Feinberg is probably the only significant Calvinistic theologian who is fully temporal in his views. See No One Like Him (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2001).


    So it is not a common view, but one that has saw some attempts to mediate. For example, some theologians are now putting forth the view that God was outside of time before creating time. Once time is created, God is now in time--yet also outside of time--both temporal and atemporal. These are often called the hybrid or composite views. For example, Millard Erickson's so-called synthetic view is that God is "ontologically atemporal/aspatial but actively or influentially present within the space-time universe". See Millard J. Erickson, God the Father Almighty: A Contemporary Exploration of the Divine Attributes (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998). Yet, when one looks closely at this or related composite views, it is really no different that the Calvinist perspective that God is outside of time yet certainly acts within time that He has created.
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    (Matt 11:23) And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

    In this verse we see Jesus saying what would have happened had different choices been made by men.

    Now, I believe God’s intelligence is such that He could take any event in all of creation at any moment in the history of the universe, change it in one of an infinite number of ways, and then tell you exactly what would happen differently because of the change. Without any strain He could carry out all the intricate ramifications of that one change throughout history to the end of time and beyond time into eternity. He has all the possibilities and the one actuality clearly focused in His Mind at all times. His genius is endlessly vast; “His Understanding is infinite.”(Psalms 147:4-5)

    Not only does God know in complete detail what will happen, but He also knows what would have happened had He decided to adopt some course of action other than the one He chose (see above verse). If the “one indivisible system of things” were different in even one detail, if ever the course of one single atomic particle were different, the entire system would be changed. One variation would lead to another and another and another in a vast, intertwining system of cause and effect.

    God knows the future as clearly as the past. His knowledge is not subject to development; He never needs to learn anything because He already knows everything. (Isa 44:6-8)

    The only way all this is possible is for God to be "outside" of time.
    (1 Cor 1:13 KJV) Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post
    This is not a common view among Calvinists.
    It seems like for a long time on TOL every single Calvinist held that view, but the last few years or so it does seem to be more rare.

    For example, some theologians are now putting forth the view that God was outside of time before creating time. Once time is created, God is now in time--yet also outside of time--both temporal and atemporal.
    I can see some merit in that view, of course we must assume that God has some way around the irrational part of getting from an eternal now to a sequential reality.

    Still, I see no pay-off, no reason to accept such a view, no compelling reason to accept it. At least none I can think of. However, based on the biblical record that view would make more sense than God being eternally outside of time which flies in the face of almost every single page of the Bible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tetelestai View Post
    God knows the future as clearly as the past. His knowledge is not subject to development; He never needs to learn anything because He already knows everything. (Isa 44:6-8)
    God knows everything knowable, that's true.

    But what about the future actions of freewill beings? (such as humans or angels)

    When exactly did God know that Abraham feared the Lord?

    1. For all eternity
    2. At the point when Abraham showed he was willing to sacrifice his own son (Genesis 22:12)

    If your answer is "For all eternity" what does "For now I know" mean? And furthermore, what was the point of sending Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?
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    Maybe i over simplify , but how can God be bound by anything ?

    He is not longer omnipotent if he is ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight View Post
    But what about the future actions of freewill beings? (such as humans or angels)
    Just a portion of Daniel 11

    4: And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.
    5: And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.
    6: And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.
    7: But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail:
    8: And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.
    9: So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.
    10: But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.
    11: And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.
    12: And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.
    13: For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.
    14: And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.
    15: So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.
    16: But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.
    17: He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaulToPaul View Post
    Just a portion of Daniel 11
    Did ya have a point to make or.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight View Post
    Did ya have a point to make or.....
    Future decisions and future emotions of future people written several thousand years ago.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Interplanner View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Interplanner View Post
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    ...then I woke up. Knight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by This Charming Manc View Post
    Maybe i over simplify , but how can God be bound by anything ?

    He is not longer omnipotent if he is ?
    God is bound by many things.

    God is bound by His own reality isn't He? He couldn't decide to have never existed could He? He couldn't make a four-sided triangle or create a rock so big He couldn't lift it. Those are logical absurdities. God is real, rational, and logical and therefore bound by the character of His own existence.

    I would assert to you that time is one of those things that defines God. God is a living God and therefore experiences reality sequentially which allows God to be rational.

    Time wasn't created, time merely is. Time is how we describe a sequential reality. God created us in His image and therefore we experience one event after another event (sequentially) similar to God.
    Last edited by Knight; December 27th, 2008 at 05:31 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaulToPaul View Post
    Future decisions and future emotions of future people written several thousand years ago.
    God is capable of bringing events to pass at times when He deems appropriate.

    After all.... if you were making a valid point then EVERY prediction of God's without fail would have come to pass exactly as stated which of course isn't true.

    Based on your view how can you explain prophecies, and predictions by God that did not come to pass?
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