17 Oct 2015
This round of speculation on the topic of time picked up at one most iconic places for applicational theology discussion – the dinner table. It took some mathematical articulation of terms to categorize what our perspective is, and what Gods perspective my include. Of course, as with any contemplation of the nature of God, it is tragically a semi one-sided, limited perspective of something beyond our comprehension. We, as evangelical Judeo-Christian theists, claim finite eternity (having a starting point with no end), while claiming God as infinitely eternal (having no beginning nor end). It is from here we drop into the chasm from rational consistency into irrational speculation. So the question arose, “why does this need to be solved, or even addressed?”
The answer, of course, is different for every person, and subject to their circumstances in life. I considered that the majority of our existence will be spend beyond our present space-time plane. Simply applying certain terms, I am allowed to reach over to the astrophysics table to consider ideas, so long as they do not contradict Gods character in Scripture, and to some extent, in experience. But before digging into elements of astrophysics, I submit that theology, and empirical science can appear irrelevant in comparison to our relationship with God and others. God, because He is eternal, and others, because they are also eternal. Our experience with God in eternity may contemplate Gods infinity, as He will possibly be able to reveal greater elements of existence then was ever possible before in our physical bodies.
But I am ever aware of the relational dimension in theology, and thus – trusting the written word of God through in light of empirical discoveries is of significance to me. The question on the table was (and still is), did time exist before God initiated creation? Does relationship among the trinity legitimately compose a sequential elapse of events, which is a simplistic definition of time?
Of course, this period wouldn’t have been able to be measured by the life of stars, the orbital cycles of planets, or the rotational laws about their axis’. But certainly, there was time elapsed, according to the previously-stated definition. Such discussion is obviously not new: theologians have considered many possible theories – I will attempt to summarize. One includes God exists in an “eternal now”. This means He sees all events (for us) past, present, future, as if they are happening now. It would mean He would have to know our choices ahead of us (chosen or not) in order to see them. Another includes a “timeless God”. God exists outside the constraints of time. He knows not the transpiring of events as we do, but still is able to interact with us who do exist in time.
These discussions of the philosophical dimensions of the spiritual realm seem trivial to us, who may still cling to a simple relationship with God inside of a “walled-in” perspective of eternity. And yes, there is some gateway yet ahead for all of us. But if we are believers in Christ, eternity gleams in a very real future; one that may not include this present, physical experience in the presently-understood universe. So philosophical discussion seems pertinent to me, as it is the setting of our eternity, and certain absolutes, we understand, won’t change in it. God won’t change. But if God “can’t experience”, being an “eternal-now God”, who are we spending eternity with, has He a history of non-temporal experiences that would come up in conversation? Our perspective of God ought be what our lives are characterized by. Who are we working with? Of course, we can ask Him now, but His answers will be wise encapsulations of the spiritual reality into our finite, physical minds…
“Every subject touches every other subject” was a statement brought up during the dinner-table contemplations. It was a statement not new to me, but it was spun with a different finger, so-to-speak. Discussions of time eventually reaches to discussion of free-will, decisions, and relationship. I am beginning to conceive of abstract nouns, such as “love”, “faithfulness”, and “relationship” as as real, (if not more-so) then concrete nouns like “people”, “rice”, or “meatballs”. “The spiritual realm is more real then the physical realm” is a philosophy I have adopted now for about four years.
Thus, interpreting Scripture in light of the more important “why” elements, and less of the “how” elements leaves critical doctrines unscathed, and simultaneously allows empirical discoveries to effectively explain the physical creation around us. Of course, science has made some false conclusions, just have Scripture has had some erroneous conclusions. It is a wise balance to consider a reasonable assessment of what is around us, but to simply remember it’s source, and consider the simplistic philosophical implications, though they will continue to make more sense as we reason in the context of our relationship with God, following His counsel to follow the inspiration that He has ignited in our hearts.