Friday, March 23, 2012

More on God and TEMPUS (God in Time)

Here is a dialogue that I once had on greektheology (my old yahoogroup). I will distinguish between my dialogue partner's remarks and mine.

[Dialogue partner]
Part of the problem with you, Blackman and others in this discussion is you have
a priori decided what "timeless/eternal" means without regard for the actual biblical revelation. This forces you to multiply a few entities yourself as you
seek to explain away the several Scriptures that clearly teach teach that God is in fact infinite with regard to space and time.

Maybe I missed the data that you presented to back your arguments, but it certainly doesn't seem that the writers of Scripture presuppose or acknowledge God's timelessness. The term "infinity" (as far as I can tell) is not used in Scripture. What it means when applied to God is still a question of dispute among theologians. So, how can we dogmatically contend that God is timeless or that His infinity somehow obviates His being temporal?

In an essay entitled "God is Everlasting," Nicholas
Wolterstorff writes:

"God is spoken of as calling Abraham to leave Chaldea and later instructing Moses to return to Egypt. So does not the event of God's instructing Moses succeed that of God's calling Abraham? And does not this sort of succession constitute a change on God's time-strand--not a change in his 'essence,' but nonetheless a change on his time-strand."

Wolterstorff concludes:

"Though God is within time, yet he is the Lord of time. The whole array of contingent temporal events is within his power. He is Lord of what occurs. And that,
along with the specific pattern of what he does, grounds all authentically biblical worship of, and obedience to, God."

I might also add that William Lane Craig makes an important distinction between metaphysical time and Einsteinian space-time, between infinite space/time
and finite space-time. Based on these conceptual distinctions, it is possible that God has always subsisted in infinite space/time without being constrained or confined by or to (finite) space-time. The only real reason that I can see for rejecting Craig's distinction is an insalubrious attachment to the, for all intents and purposes, now defunct positivistic worldview of yore.

[Debate partner]
However, I would like you to address the question: in what sense can God foreknow and elect his people from before the foundation of the world, and yet still seek them? You will go one of two directions in your response (though it is possible you could a go a third, unexpected [by me] direction): either you will in someway so define foreknowledge and predestination/election to fit your concept of God as finite, or you will find someway to make the "seek" fit with those concepts.

(1) I think that most exegetes today explain Eph 1:4 as a reference to a group of people, that is, the elect, and not to individuals composing that group. In other words, God knows that some will accept His offer of salvation and others will reject it. However, God wills that all men be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). Men and women are therefore not passive objects or pawns in the divine work of salvation. We are free to choose God or spurn Him (Heb 3:12-14). Ergo, God, since He evidently knows all that it is possible to know, is aware that
there is an indeterminately numbered group of persons who will respond to His free unmerited gift. Nevertheless, He either chooses not to know or knows as indeterminate the decision that men and women will
make vis-a-vis His glorious person.

(2) How do you think the writer of Hebrews is employing the expression APO KATABOLHS KOSMOU in Heb 4:3?



aservantofJEHOVAH said...

I Find the claim by fatalists that,the idea that God would have discretionary control of his foresight or that he could employ his sovereign power to render certain aspects of the future absolutely unforeseeable is somehow belittling or injurious of his majesty odd,Isaiah45:7,Job41:1.
If we think about it what drives man's obsession with knowledge of the future is fear,anxiety.
I find it truly majestic that the God of the bible is portrayed as both being free to create chaos and able to skilfully and fearlessly master that chaos.

Edgar Foster said...

I agree. When once reaches a certain level of abstraction, it's difficult to say what attributes exactly impugn God's majesty. For example, is God's majesty belittled if we take Genesis 22:12ff in a non-anthropomorphic sense? How is God injured if he comes to know that Abraham is a God-fearing person? I would submit that much of the fuss about interpreting such passages literally is driven by philosophical preapprehensions.