Re: God and Time

Garry DeWeese (
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 09:42:55 -0700

Hi Grainge,

At 01:16 PM 11/24/1997 +1100, you wrote:
>There are some points that Garry made to which I must reply. Garry says,
>>The "all things visible and invisible" statement [of the creeds] must be
>>read as a reference to physical objects as well as spiritual beings
(angels >>and devils). Goodness, love, justice, mercy etc. are invisible
things--did >>God create them? Why cannot time (more properly temporality)
be an >>attribute of God, just as love is?

>Space, time, matter- energy are so interrelated that if God created one of
>them then He created all of them. This does not only follow from our
>knowledge of modern physics but Saint Augustine long ago realised something
>of this. when he said "The world and time had both one beginning" and "The
>world was made , not in time, but simultaneously with time." (Quoted in
>Paul Davies "God and the New Physics").

This, of course, is only true if physical time (time as measured in the
physical universe) is the only kind of time there is. Of course physical
time began with the creation of the physical universe. But I maintain that
God, being a temporal being, defines his own time ("metaphysical time" or
"God's time"). Nothing from physics can address this concept. It is

>To consider time as an attribute
>of God raises huge problems. On one hand if time is not part of God's
>creation He may not be able to control it and we have a form of Duelism or
>on the other hand as time space matter-energy are clearly linked if time is
>an attribute of God why not matter-energy and space and then we head
>straight into pantheism.

Again, this is is only a problem if God's time = physical time, which I deny.

>This does not mean that God changes . Garry says
>>But why is there any loss of orthodoxy if we allow God to change in
>>relational attribures while remaining immutable in intrinsic or essential
>I see the problem but when, for example, a person repents of his sin and
>has faith in the finished work of Christ . The individual changes from
>being under God's wrath and condemnation to being in a state of grace. The
>persons relationship with God changes but God does not change.

If we were (prior to regeneration) objects of God's wrath, children of
darkness, at enmity with God, etc., but now (post-regeneration) are alive
in Christ, clothed with Christ's rightousness, joint-heirs with Him,
children of light, etc., doesn't all this imply that there is a change in
God with respect to his relations with us? But this is not an intrinsic
change, so "weak immutability" is maintained.

>Garry does not like the idea of God being without parts. This has been
>orthodox Christian doctrine for hundreds of years and it is none the worse
>for that. Because a doctrine is mediaeval or Patristic for that matter,
>should not be to condemn it.

I agree; this would be the genetic fallacy. But neither does a medieval or
Patristic pedigree exempt a doctrine from critical evaluation; each
formulation of a doctrine must be evaluated on its own terms.

>The Persons of the Godhead are not normally considered "parts". What is
>understood by parts is that God, not consisting of matter, does not have
>hands or feet etc., except in a poetic or anthropomorphic sense. He can
>not consist of anything that He has made. In no way does this exclude the
>concept that God can and does interact with His created universe, He did so
>most clearly in the incarnation.

Things can have parts in many ways that are not physical parts. The
doctrine of divine simplicity understands this, and therefore denies that
there are any parts in God. It maintains that God *is* each of his
attributes (the *is* of identity, not of predication). I find that this
has no clear Biblical support, and relies instead upon a Neo-Platonic
metaphysic which has no intellectual appeal to me at all. On the contrary,
I find it very hard to make sense of the statement that God *is* his love,
*is* his justice, *is* his eternity, etc. (By the transitivity of
identity, doesn't this entail that God's love *is* God's eternity, etc.?
What would that statement mean? On this, see for example, Stephen Davis,
_Logic and the Nature of God_, or Edward Wieringa, _The Nature of God_.)

Garry DeWeese