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Divine Eternity


The doctrine of divine eternity has been understood in two very different ways by theologians throughout history. Some have understood divine eternity to consist in Godís having neither beginning nor end, in his existing throughout all time. Others, though, have understood divine eternity to consist in Godís being timeless, at least from our perspective, in his existing outside of the time series that governs our universe.

An Eternal God

On the former view, God is a temporal being, but not a finite one. What is present to us is present to God; he lives in the moment just as much as we do. What makes God eternal on this view is his being uncreated, his having existed forever, and his being immortal, never to die. God is eternal because he exists at every point in time.

A Timeless God

On the latter view, God may be a temporal being, but he does not exist in the same time-series as we do. He surveys our past, present, and future from a standpoint outside it, seeing different points in time all at once just as we can see different points in space all at once.

This does not necessarily mean that God himself is completely timeless; it may be that God makes decisions, and acts, and reacts in time just as we do, but is outside of our time series, in a time series of his own. From our perspective at least, though, God will be an atemporal, i.e. timeless, being, and it is in this that, according to the latter view, Godís eternity consists.



God, Time, and Eternity
William Lane Craig on the various understandings of Godís relationship to time.