Re: God and time

Garry DeWeese (
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 08:49:43 -0700

Hi Inge,

At 09:39 AM 11/11/1997 +0100, you wrote:

>This issue is difficult. When philosopher Ronald Nash wrote his book
>"The concept of God" in the early eighties he noted that two prominent
>english philosophers had changed their minds on this issue.
>Richard Swinburne had believed in God as eternal, but changed to believe
>that God is everlasting. And Paul Helm did the opposite. He changed from
>believing in God as everlasting to God as eternal. And Ronald Nash himself
>didn't make up his mind on this issue in the book.

I should note that Swinburne does believe God is eternal. "Eternal" is, of
course, a term widely used in Scripture. The question is what it means
with respect to time. Something can be everlastingly eternal--i.e.
existing at all times (what I mean by the term "omnitemporal"), or it can
be eternal by being timeless or atemporal or, to use the phrase Jan de
Koning prefers, "outside of time." Swinburne's present position is the
former; Helm's the latter.

>Since both Jan de Koning and Gary DeWeese are "Dutch" may I recommend
>an article written by Nicholas Wolterstorff ( I think he is a Dutch
>descendant ). Wolterstorff is one of the leading christian philsophers
>in USA now, presently teaching at Yale U. and formerly at Calvin College.
>The article is one of the most well known contemporary defenses of God as
>everlasting. The article is called "God is everlasting". It appeared first
>1975 in an anthology - I think it is called "God and the good",
>but is reprinted later,
>most recently printed in "Philosophy of religion: selected readings"
>ed. M.Peterson Oxford U.P 1995.
>Wolterstorff's argument is primarily biblical.

Wolterstorff's paper, titled "God Everlasting," argues basically that God
cannot be "outside of time" but rather must be "everlasting" or
omnitemporal, since Scripture portrays him as changing with respect to his
knowledge, his memory, his planning, and his personal relations to us.

Thanks for reminding us of this article.