Saturday, December 01, 2012

Grudem 11c: God's Incommunicable Attributes 3

... continued from Tuesday.  Taking so long to get through just one chapter...
3. Eternity
Grudem defines God's eternity as follows: "God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time" (168).  The fact that he does not learn new things or forget things (omniscience) follows from this aspect of his being.  "To God himself, all of his existence is always somehow 'present'" (169).  "All of past history is viewed by God with great clarity and vividness" (170).

God "has a qualitatively different experience of time than we do" (170).  In Grudem's diagram, God is above looking down at creation, the life of Christ, 1994, and the final judgment all at the same time (171).  Yet, by contrast, God somehow "sees the progress of events over time and acts differently at different points in time" (172).  This will be true of us forever, even in eternity (173).

Grudem's analysis of God's eternity is completely orthodox here also.  It would be unwise for most of us to speculate about the physics.  Grudem's diagrams (and anyone else's) will surely be a source of great embarrassment to him in the kingdom when God gives him a greater glimpse of how it actually works.

Grudem's use of Scripture continues to be out of context.  The idea of someone being "outside of time" seems anachronistic for biblical times.  It seems doubtful that any biblical author understood God to exist outside of time.  Such ideas arguably did not develop until later church history, and those who understand relativity today would no doubt even question the notion of medieval timelessness.

The biblical authors thus seem to picture God going through time as we do, as we would expect.  The passages Grudem quotes only suggest that God always has and always will exist.  God revealed himself in the ancient frameworks of those to whom he first spoke, so it is no surprise that the Old Testament sometimes pictures God learning new information, just as it sometimes pictures him knowing the distant future.  Arguably the more philosophical versions of God's timelessness came in later church history, when philosophy began to influence Christian theology more extensively. The biblical language is more poetic and anthropopathic, even though the biblical authors themselves probably understood it literally.

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