Eternal Creator Of Time -- By: James E. Dolezal

Journal: Journal of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies
Volume: JIRBS 02:0 (NA 2015)
Article: Eternal Creator Of Time
Author: James E. Dolezal


Eternal Creator Of Time

James E. Dolezal*

*James E. Dolezal, Ph.D., is part-time professor of theology, philosophy, and church history at Cairn University, Langhorne, PA, and author of God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God's Absoluteness (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2011).

Augustine of Hippo famously wrote, “What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to someone who asks me, I do not know.”1 Perplexing as the reality of time is, it is even more puzzling to contemplate the eternality of its Creator. “You have made all eras of time and you are before all time,” Augustine states. Yet, he observes, God is not “earlier in time” than all eras of time.2 Time brings nothing new to him.

Your years do not come and go. Our years pass and new ones arrive only so that all may come in turn, but your years stand all at once, because they are stable: there is no pushing out of vanishing years by those that are coming on, because with you none are transient . . . [Y]our today does not give way to tomorrow, nor follow yesterday. Your Today is eternity.3

God is eternally before all time, and yet is not time’s temporal antecedent. This is mystery to be sure, though one historically upheld by orthodox Christians.

Reformed theologians traditionally welcomed this mystery of God’s eternality as a source of wonder and motive for worship. John Owen declares:

How inconceivable is this glorious divine property unto the thoughts and minds of men! How weak are the ways and terms

whereby they go about to express it. . . . He that says most only signifies what he knows of what it is not. We are of yesterday, change every moment, and are leaving our station to-morrow. God is still the same, was so before the world was,—from eternity. And now I cannot think what I have said, but only have intimated what I adore.4

The incomprehensibility of divine eternality need not reduce believers to silence or hopeless agnosticism. Owen allows that theologians may speak of this perfection, even if in a predominantly negative mode, signifying what it is not, and he specifically indicates that eternality is not change. In other words, while we may not be able to form an adequate positive concept of God’s eternity in our minds, we should at least be willing to affirm that time produces no change in God. Herman Bavinck capt...

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