Is God inside or outside of time?
Why would God bind Himself by being temporal?
Today's question has to do with God and time. Is He outside of time? If so how can he interact with us inside of time? Is God inside of time? if so, does that mean that He is bound by time like us?
For more on this topic we strongly encourage you to listen to Dr. Craig's podcast, specifically the Doctrine of God. Here's the question:
Thank you for all your scholarly work in defense of the Faith and expansion of the Kingdom of God.
I am a youth pastor teaching my students the essentials of Christian doctrine every Sunday morning and have enjoyed every minute of it - they too are learning and enjoying.
As a resource I have been trying to utilize your Defenders podcasts on Christian doctrine as well as several other systematic theology and doctrine works for my class to craft worksheets and handouts to help them grapple with the more theological and philosophical concerns. We have finished up Doctrine of Revelation and are now in week 4 of the Doctrine of God.
In the doctrine of God I have come to God's relation to time and eternity and was wanting to see if you could address a few concerns that are popping up. I have come across a excerpt from a certain systematic theology book that affirms,
"It is...worthy of note that it is...incoherent to speak of God being eternal before creation and temporal after creation. For a theist, creating the world does not change the nature of God. The world is not created ex deo ('out of God'); that is pantheism. And for theism, the world is created ex nihilo ('out of nothing'). Consequently, God does not change 'internally,' that is, in His essence, by creating something else. The only thing that changes is 'external,' the relationship of the world to Him. Prior to creation, the world has no relationship to God, since it did not exist. At creation and after, God became 'Creator' for the first time...Prior to creation, He was God, but not Creator. That is, at creation God gained a new relationship, but not any new attributes. He did not change in His essence, but in His external activity...[The divine temporality argument] assumes that to act in time is to be temporal. It does not demonstrate that the Actor is temporal; only that His acts are temporal. Classical theists do not deny that God's actions are temporal--they only insist that God's attributes are not temporal."
From listening and reading your work I understand that you hold to the position that God is eternal without creation and temporal subsequent to creation. My question, "Is it not possible that God can remain eternal while His ACTS are seen temporally?" What assume that simply acting that He must becoming "wholly" spatially and temporally located?
An example of what I am trying to get across: A person could take a stamp with a date and press it on a piece of paper. While the stamped date is fixed with that specific date - we have a time at which something occurred - the stamper is not necessarily contained (trying not to use emotionally laden terms like "trapped") to that stamped time. Right?
I am trying to make sense of this. Why would God simply acting in time fix Him to time? Further is it not even possible or probable that a model of some divine hyper time could not actually be (even possibly formulated in the future) and we are simply limited in fully grasping a concept like eternity?
Dr. Craig responds:
Please click HERE to see Dr. Craig's response.