God Is Self-Existent, Self-Sufficient, Eternal School of Theology Series: Lecture 9
God Is Self-Existent, Self-Sufficient, Eternal School of Theology Series: Lecture 9
We are going to look this evening at God as self-existent, self-sufficient, and eternal. We are going to look at a couple of ideas tonight, one especially in relationship to God and time that again may come across to you as somewhat odd and strange. And you sort of wonder, “Why would theologians make decisions about these issues?” You notice the Psalm 102:3 rendition by Isaac Watts:
Eternity, with all its years,
Stands present in Thy view.
To Thee there’s nothing old appears;
To Thee there’s nothing new.
We are going to test to see whether we actually mean that; whether we actually do believe what Isaac Watts has written. That there is no sequence of time in God. That there is no yesterday, or today, or tomorrow. There is no “becoming” in God. God lives in a realm that is outside of time. That has been standard orthodox belief until (as you might guess) recently.
God Is Self-Existent⤒🔗
We are going to begin with God’s self-existence. And we introduce here another word, an important word: aseity. The aseity of God. Now, that is not a word that you probably use in day-to-day speech, so I am giving you a definition of it (at least a metaphysical definition of it): existence originating from and having no source other than itself. Coming from a Latin word asēitās, meaning “from oneself.” God is from himself. He is not derived from anything else. He is not a subcategory. He is in a category all by himself. So what this doctrine is addressing is the being of God, or (now I am making up words) the “is-ness” of God. God is. (Transcription of audio file from 03:15 to 03:36 omitted.) God is not a being derived from another source. God is a being in himself. He is outside of any categorization that we can think of or suggest in relation to the universe in which live. He is outside of that. He creates the universe; he creates all other categories of existence. But he is in an existence all by himself. Again, this is the Creator-creature distinction. There is the Creator, and then there is creation. And those two are distinct categories.
So God does not owe his existence to anything outside of himself. The question that often arises, perhaps in conversations with unbelievers, is the apologetic question: who made God? Sometimes we employ that sort of question: what was there before the Big Bang? If everything has a source, if everything has an origin, and if the ultimate origin of the universe (as scientists seems to think) is the Big Bang (I am not saying that, I am just saying let’s suppose that that argument is true), what is there then before the Big Bang? Well, the question “Who made God” is a question that is invalidated by the premise that God is. He exists. There is no source for which the product, the result, is God. God is. He does not need anything or anyone to explain his existence, nor does he need anyone or anything to maintain his existence.
A little quotation from Cornelius Van Til, who taught apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. He made a huge impact on Christian philosophy. Whether you are for Van Til or against Van Til in apologetics is beside the point. But here is a sentence from Cornelius Van Til: “We must take the notion of the self-contained, self-sufficient God as the most basic notion of all our interpretative efforts.” (Cornelius Van Til, Christianity and Idealism, 1955). Now, you need to think about that sentence for a minute. At the very least, Van Til is saying that this idea of God’s self-existence is perhaps the most important idea of all in constructing an epistemology. In constructing the way we know things, the way we understand the existence of this universe and how this universe came into being, the self-existence of God is the most fundamental thought. Although this is fairly abstruse, this is fundamental stuff. This is basic, and it is particularly important.
The Westminster Confession, in the second chapter, The Doctrine of God, makes a reference to the aseity of God.
God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things.
It is doing several variations on the same thought here on the aseity of God; that God exists in himself. He is not derived. He does not depend on anyone or anything to maintain his being. He is “in and unto himself all-sufficient.”
Now, where does all this come from? It comes from God’s own self-disclosure. We are, of course, wholly dependent of God. If God is in a category all by himself, we cannot by searching find out God. We are dependent on his revealing of himself, pulling back the curtains just a little and giving us a glimpse of himself. Which he did, of course, in Exodus 3 when he revealed his divine name, his covenant name, to Moses in the course of the burning bush, and then the further explanation of that given in Exodus 6. God has told Moses to go back to Pharaoh and to be the instrument by which to bring the people of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt and into the Promised Land. And Moses, understandably enough, says to God,
If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them? [In Hebrew thought, of course, God’s name defines who he is.] God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
His name is I AM THAT I AM, and then he shortens it to simply I AM. And the verb “I AM” sounds in Hebrew like the pronunciation of the divine name Jahweh. That sounds like the verb ‘to be’. So God’s covenant name in the Old Testament is Jahweh, or, as you are probably more familiar with, Jehovah. Although the pronunciation of that name has been something of a debate, partly because of superstition in the centuries that followed Exodus about actually pronouncing God’s name. And now scholars believe that it ought to be pronounced Jahweh, which sounds in Hebrew like the verb ‘to be’, ‘I AM’. God is I AM. Not so much the past, and not so much the future, but he exists. I AM the God who exists. That is actually quite provocative, given that Moses was going back to Egypt where they worshipped a whole pantheon of gods, including the sun and the moon. And Moses, of course, will write Genesis and say, “This God Jahweh created the sun and the moon! The sun god and the moon god that the Egyptians worshipped were actually created, brought into being, by Jahweh. God created the sun; God created the moon. So writing Genesis to a people that were actually in Egypt at the time would have been very provocative. The problem with the pantheon of Egyptian deities is: they don’t exist. Which is a big problem! God, on the other hand—the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—His name is I AM. He exists.
This is Jim Packer explaining the divine name: “The name in all its forms proclaims his eternal, self-sustaining, self-determining, sovereign reality—that supernatural mode of existence that the sign of the burning bush had signified.” The bushed burned, but it was not consumed. It continued to exist. “The bush, we might say, was God’s three-dimensional illustration of his own inexhaustible life.” (J.I. Packer, Concise Theology, 1993.)
Then come down to the New Testament and to a very important statement that Jesus makes in John 5:26: “For as the Father has life in Himself”—His life is not derived; it is not sustained by anything outside of himself. He has life in himself. In God, we live and move and have our being. Our life is maintained and originated by God. God’s life is self-sustained and self-originating. So this is Jesus speaking to his disciples: “As the Father has life in himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” And what do they sing in heaven, in the glimpse that we see in Revelation 4 and 5 of the angels and archangels and extraordinary creatures in heaven? This is what they sing: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” All of creation exists by the will of God, but God exists in himself. And then at the end of the book of Revelation: “He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.’” He is in a category all by himself. The self-existence, or the aseity, of God.
God is Self-Sufficient←⤒🔗
Then a related concept: the self-sufficiency of God. That God is not dependent on anything external to himself for the perfections of his own being. The burning bush: the fire did not need the material of the bush to sustain itself. That three-dimentional picture of the self-sufficiency of God—God burns, but he is not dependent on the bush for the burning. It is just a visual aid to explain to us God’s self-sufficiency. Interestingly enough, this is an aspect, a doctrine that Paul taught in Athens to unbelievers—to a Gentile community, a Greek world with their pantheon of gods—and he is talking to them about the God whom they do not know. Paul at Athens says, “Nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” He has no need of anything from outside of himself to sustain himself, to keep himself going. So he is unoriginated, he exists within himself and by himself, and he is maintained by himself. The self-existence and the self-sufficiency of God.
Implications for Us to Think About←⤒🔗
Now, what in the world is the use of this doctrine? Now, a doctrine can be true even though you cannot see what it is useful for—that is important to keep in mind. It is not true just because you can see some practical consequence for it; it is true because God reveals it to be true. But there are practical, there are very pastoral, things that emerge as a consequence of us thinking about the aseity of God—that God is in a category all by himself. “Man’s mind,” Calvin said, “is a perpetual factory of idols.” In the Institutes Book 1, Chapter 10, Section 11 he writes that man’s mind is forever producing idols. We turn that which God has made into an idol. We turn it into a god and we bow down and we worship it. And those idols may be external to ourselves, or they may be within ourselves. They may be ideas. They may be even our own self; we make our self a god. We put ourselves over God and more important than God. And the doctrine of the aseity of God reminds us that God is the most fundamental thing of all. He is the most fundamental being of all. And our existence is wholly derivative of his existence.
Now, that should produce awe. God is awesome. Now, I think I have said before, and I will keep on saying it, you may only use the word ‘awesome’ for God. Ice-cream is not awesome; bluebell ice-cream, creamy and rich as it is, is not awesome. And if you say, “Bluebell ice-cream is awesome,” what word are you going to use to describe God? Because God is better than bluebell ice-cream! God fills us with a sense of awe. It takes your breath away. It gives you the holy tremors. You are in the presence of someone who is in a category all by himself and to whom you owe your existence. The very breath that is in your body owes itself to him. The aseity of God is a statement about his incomprehensibility. Not that God cannot be comprehended at all—He can. But what we know of God, we know only a little. We only know a little glimpse of God. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God. Those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children.” And what we know and what we understand of God is only a little. God cannot be pigeon-holed. He is beyond our understanding. It should make us stagger with awe.
It is where Job was brought to in the book of Job in chapter 40. Job lays his hand upon his mouth. Paul takes up that thought in Romans, when he says that “Every mouth may be stopped.” You need to be brought to the point where you don’t talk anymore, because God is so much bigger and so much greater than you can ever imagine. He does not owe you an explanation. That was Job’s fundamental problem, that he felt God owed him an explanation. And God did not owe him an explanation. And God did not give him an explanation. And Job is brought to the point where he puts his hand upon his mouth. He is given a glimpse of the aseity of God. He has asked all those questions, hasn’t he? You remember in Job 38, “Who is this who asks questions, who talks without knowledge?” And then he says to Job, “Dress for action.” Job has been asking for a fight. He has been asking for an epistemological fight. It is a fight about ideas, about the understanding and value of things. And so there is a contest. And God says, “I will ask the questions; you will provide the answers.” And you already understand this is not fair, because Job is the one asking the questions and he is expecting God to provide the answers, but God turns the table and He says, “I am going to ask the questions; you provide the answers.” And question number one is: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” And it is a knockout blow. It is like Cassius Clay (as he then was) and that English fighter, and it is a knock-out blow in the first round and it is over. You have paid a colossal amount of money for tickets to go and see this fight, and you are hoping it will at least go to six or seven rounds, but it is over in the first question because Job has no answer to it! And eventually he lays his hands upon his mouth. So awe.
Worship. What is it that draws out the worship of heaven? “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” We will come to an explanation of what that means, but it is a statement about the eternality of God, for sure. But it brings out worship.
But it also brings out stability. And think about a couple of Psalms here. Psalm 46. The psalmist in Psalm 46 is looking at the world, he is looking at the cosmos that he knows, and it is an unstable cosmos. “The earth is giving way…the mountains…are moved into the heart of the sea…the waters roar and foam.” And what gives the psalmist stability in the midst of all that? It is the doctrine of aseity. “Be still and know”…what? “That I am God!” I AM. I AM! You are worrying about the future, you are worrying about the past and whether it is going to catch up with you, and God says, “I AM THE I AM. I exist. I am the eternally-being one. Or the ninetieth psalm. The ninetieth psalm was written by Moses, finding similar refuge in the aseity of God. “From everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God has no beginning or end. In every generation this is a truth that provides believers with stability.
So these doctrines may sound a little strange, and the term ‘aseity’ is not a term that we use on a day-to-day basis, but here it is. In the Scriptures, God exists by himself. And it is a source of awe and worship and stability. When everything else is shaking, when everything else is giving way, and the whole foundation is shaking, God is the same. God is the I AM THAT I AM.
God is Eternal←⤒🔗
Now, God is eternal. And if you thought that was deep, we are going a little deeper. God is eternal. Because God is self-existent and self-sufficient, we speak of him as eternal. I mean by that that he is not bound in any sense by the limitations of space and time. Space and time are part of the created universe. So with respect to time, we speak of God as everlasting. With the respect to space, we speak of God as omnipresent. Now, we will talk about omnipresence later, but I am not going to talk any more about that tonight. I simply want to focus on the eternality of God with the respect to time, and what does that mean.
The Eternality of God←↰⤒🔗
The eternality of God. God is eternal. It is something that Isaiah speaks about a lot.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young man shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31
He is the everlasting God. He is the eternal God. God alone has “immortality”—1 Timothy 6:16. “The immortal God”—Romans 1:23. Or Jude 25: “The only God, our Savior…be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.” An interesting phrase—“Before all time and now and forever.” These are just ringing the changes on the assertion, the proposition, that God is eternal. God is everlasting.
The language of accommodation. Now, what does that mean? Remember that we have said now a number of times over the last few weeks—as we have been thinking about the attributes of God, the distinctive characteristics of God—that God accommodates himself. He talks to us as creatures. There is no way that we can understand God as he is in himself. What we understand is his accommodated language. It is like an adult speaking to a little baby. You get down on your hands and knees and you say some things that you would be embarrassed about if you were to be recorded and it would be played back among your friends! No one understands the concept of infinity or eternal. Now, if you think that you do, think about this: that an average galaxy contains between 1011 and 1012 stars. In other words, galaxies on average have between a hundred billion and a hundred trillion stars. Astronomers estimate that there are approximately a hundred billion to a hundred trillion galaxies in the universe. So how many stars are there in the universe? 1022 or 1024! Ten sextillion and one septillion stars in the universe! Now, do you grasp that? No, you don’t! It is big. It is very big. It is very, very, very, very big. Have you grasped it yet? No, of course not. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on all the beaches of the world (and yes, I did make sure that that was not some urban legend thing!) If you were to gather all the grains of sand from all the beaches in the world and count them, there are more stars in the universe. And again, can you grasp that? No, I can’t. It is big; it is enormously big. So we don’t grasp what eternity actually means or what eternal actually means.
The language of pastoral theology. Now again, when the Bible says God is everlasting or that he is “before all time and now and forever,” it is using language with a view not, perhaps, first of all to assert something that you would put in a systematic theology; it is asserting something for the benefit of pastoral theology. It is trying to help us. It is trying to minister to us in some way. So Psalm 90: people die, they are swept away in a sleep of death, but God is from everlasting to everlasting. God is above the realm of death. God is above the realm of decay. He is in charge of the universe. He controls from a position that is over and above death and decay. Or Psalm 102: “They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.” The eternality of God is being used there in a pastoral way to bring a sense of comfort in a world that is decaying, and bodies that are decaying.
What Does “Eternity” Mean?←↰⤒🔗
Now, the next obvious question then is to ask: what does eternity mean when we apply that to God? And there are two answers. One is timelessness, and the other is temporalism.
Timelessness. We are going to talk about timelessness. The eternality of God—that God is eternal in relation to time—means that he exists in a realm that is timeless. It is also known as eternalism. Now, I want to say before I go through this, this has been and remains the standard orthodox position. It is, as you shall see, the position of the great giants of the church. That does not make it true, but it is something that we need to think about (especially as postmoderns; we dismiss history and tradition and so on)—that the traditional argument here for the eternality of God is that he exists outside of time. This is not just a Protestant view, it is not just a Reformed view; it is a view that was held by Augustine, as we shall see. It is a view that was held by Thomas Aquinas, the principle theologian of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. And a position held by leading Reformed scholars in our own time. So let’s look at this idea. God is outside of time.
Now, if you are balking at that a little bit, if you find that hard to take in, I think it is probably easier for all of us to take in that God is outside of space. God does not have spatial dimensions. You can’t measure him. How big is he? How many miles wide? How many miles tall? He is not made of atoms or molecules or gravitational forces. God is spirit. He creates the physical universe. Now, we aren’t talking here about space; we are talking about time. God is eternal in the sense that he is timeless. He is outside of time. So time, then, is a function of the created order of things. Most of us will accept that if we accept basic post-Newtonian science, physics, that space and time are intimately related. Ever since Einstein, physicists believe and it’s the standard orthodoxy in science that space and time are part of a continuum. They are intimately related. It is part of the created order of things. Euclidean physics saw the universe as basically three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. Einsteinium physics views time as part of a single manifold along with space. Relativistic theories argue that gravitational forces can slow down time.
If you watch the Science Channel, for example—I went to the Science Channel and it was talking about planets. It was actually about the space-time continuum and how the presence of certain large objects can actually slow down the process of time, according to Einsteinium physics. Those of you math majors like myself (in my distant past life) may remember studying string theory. I couldn’t tell you what it is now, but in the past I studied string theory. And string theory predicts anything from ten to twenty-six dimensions. Some of you might be familiar with Joseph Lagrange and the so-called Lagrange transformations of the space-time continuum. You may be lovers of Star Trek, in which case all of this stuff is part of the plotline of almost every single episode of Star Trek Enterprise or Voyager or whatever. This is the stuff that makes that program so interesting.
Now, let me say that we should not think of time as a container in which things takes place. And therefore we should not think of God as inside or outside the container. Time is a function of space. Now, critics will argue that timelessness is something that belongs to Greek philosophy, and that what has happened in theology here is that it is borrowed from Greek philosophy, from Plato especially, and theology has become warped in the process. Something that Plato says in Timaeus: “The past and the future…we wrongly attribute, without thinking, to the Eternal being. For we say of it that it was and shall be, but on a true reckoning we should only say is.” There is no past and there is no future in God. There is no becoming in God. This is Plato speaking here.
Augustine: God did not create the world in time; Augustine argues he created the world with time. In the Confessions: “In the eternal, nothing passes, but the whole is present.” Augustine’s view was that God sees everything. Just like a pageant that may be passing forth before you with a long series of things, and if you have a point in the line, there is a sequence. They pass in sequence. But from your perspective, you can actually see the whole pageant in a constant is rather than a before and an after. And that is the kind of thing that Augustine is arguing. In Enchiridion he says God lives in an “ever-today.”
Boethius (fifth or sixth century): “Eternity is the complete possession of eternal life all at once.” Anselm of Canterbury (eleventh century): “Neither yesterday, nor today, nor tomorrow thou art; but simply thou art, outside all time.” Thomas Aquinas (thirteenth century): “Eternity is an instantaneous whole, while in time there is a before and after. So, time and eternity differ.” James Henley Thornwell. Who was James Henley Thornwell? Has anyone ever heard of James Henley Thornwell of South Carolina in the nineteenth century? James Henley Thornwell was skeptical about the traditional formula and about what it was saying. “God’s eternity remains a mystery to us.” Well, that is true. Charles Hodge: All “external events” are “ever present to the mind of God…He sees how they succeed each other in time, as we see a passing pageant, all of which we may take in in one view.” Actually, he is citing from Augustine. Hodge was unclear about whether there might be succession of thoughts in the mind of God, and whether the idea of succession of thoughts was something that was bound to a space-time continuum. Well, I could talk about Bavinck or Oscar Cullman (Christ and Time—a very important book in the twentieth century), but we will continue on to Paul Helm.
Paul Helm: a contemporary Calvinist Philosopher. He has two books in particular, Eternal God and Four Views of Eternity, in which he provides the traditional view, and then his entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Now, Helm’s argument is that timelessness is consistent (and is the only view that is consistent) with other attributes of God, like unchangeability. If there was sequence of time in God, then there would be a tomorrow that he as yet is unaware of. It has not happened yet. So it would add to his knowledge. So you could not say, “God is omniscient” if there are things that have not yet happened in God, and there are events the knowledge of which he is at present unaware of. So attributes like unchangeability or transcendence or even simplicity (that God is without parts) or omniscience—these would be inconsistent if God is not timeless. “God can be fully actual only if eternalism is correct. If God really exists in the year 1900 and really exists in the year 2000, then in the year 1900 he merely has the potential to exist in the year 2000, but he doesn’t yet actually exist in the year 2000. But God is supposed to be totally actual (to have no unrealized potential). So temporalism must be wrong, and eternalism correct.” Now remember, Paul Helm is a philosopher (and this is the kind of thing that philosophers do), but he is arguing from a philosophical point of view as a Reformed Calvinistic Theologian for the idea of God being outside of time. Existing in a realm that is timeless, rather than within the space-time continuum.
Temporalism. Now others, especially in the twentieth century, have called into question this view and have adopted a view known as temporalism—that God exists in time and he experiences time, and so God experiences a before and an after. They criticize the traditional view because they say things it’s Platonic, and it’s philosophical rather than theological. That is an easy charge to make, and it is made all the time about every conceivable kind of doctrine, that this has just been borrowed from the Greeks. But that needs to be looked at. I am only interested in the theological side of it rather than the philosophical side of it.
Nicholas Wolterstorff; a name that might be familiar to you. A similar kind of figure to Paul Helm, only on the other side of this particular debate. And he criticizes it because eternalism, or timelessness, portrays a God who is “lifeless” (that is how he puts it). Perhaps the most vehement attack on the traditional doctrine has come from William Lane Craig, who teaches at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, and has argued strongly and vociferously against the traditional view and argues in favor of temporalism.
Critique. So the critique. It is one thing to suggest that God is conscious of the passing of time, another to suggest that he experiences this in the same way that we do. I want to make that distinction.
And then secondly, it is argued that our image-bearing status reflects God’s experience of time and space—because we experience time and space (that is an essential feature of the image of God in us). But that argument can work the other way around too, because we sometimes experience timelessness. Oh yes, time can drag. When you are in love, and you are looking at each other with those cow-eyes, time just seems to stop. There are pieces of music that seemingly slow down time. There is a point in a Bruckner symphony in one of his slow movements where he almost brings time to a stop. So the argument can also work in the reverse order.
John Frame argues strongly that God is atemporal—he is outside of time in his transcendence but temporal in his imminence. And that is a fairly new and novel way of looking at it, I think, and it may have something going for it.
(Transcription of audio file from 45:46 to 46:19 omitted.)
Transcription of BBC Radio talk by CS Lewis:
In these talks, I've had to say a good deal about prayer. And before going on to my main subject tonight, I'd like to deal with a difficulty some people find about the whole idea of prayer. Somebody put it to me by saying: "I can believe in God alright, but what I can't swallow is this idea of him listening to several hundred million human beings who are all addressing him at the same moment." And I find quite a lot of people feel that difficulty.
Well, the first thing to notice is that the whole sting of it comes in the words "at the same moment." Most of us can imagine a God attending to any number of claimants if only they come one by one and he has an endless time to do it in. So what's really at the back of the difficulty is this idea of God having to fit too many things into one moment of time.
Well that, of course, is what happens to us. Our life comes to us moment by moment. One moment disappears before the next comes along, and there's room for precious little in each. That's what Time is like. And, of course, you and I tend to take it for granted that this Time series -- this arrangement of past, present and future -- isn't simply the way life comes to us but is the way all things really exist. We tend to assume that the whole universe and God himself are always moving on from a past to a future just as we are. But many learned men don't agree with that. I think it was the Theologians who first started the idea that some things are not in Time at all. Later, the Philosophers took it over. And now some of the scientists are doing the same.
Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life doesn't consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to him at ten-thirty tonight, he hasn't got to listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call "ten-thirty." Ten-thirty, and every other moment from the beginning to the end of the world, is always the present for him. If you like to put it that way, he has infinity in which to listen to the split second of prayer put up by a pilot as his plane crashes in flames.
That's difficult, I know. Can I try to give something, not the same, but a bit like it. Suppose I'm writing a novel. I write "Mary laid down her book; next moment came a knock at the door." For Mary, who's got to live in the imaginary time of the story, there's no interval between putting down the book and hearing the knock. But I, her creator, between writing the first part of that sentence and the second, may have gone out for an hour's walk and spent the whole hour thinking about Mary. I know that's not a perfect example, but it may just give a glimpse of what I mean. The point I want to drive home is that God has infinite attention, infinite leisure to spare for each one of us. He doesn't have to take us in the line. You're as much alone with him as if you were the only thing He'd ever created. When Christ died, he died for you individually just as much as if you'd been the only man in the world.CS. Lewis, Beyond Personality—Mere Men, 1944
Well, I can’t improve on that. So there’s C.S. Lewis giving us a little glimpse of what timelessness in God may mean in the arena of him listening to all of our prayers and our experience of it at the same time.
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