Is there time in Heaven?


#1

**Does anyone know of a good reference that discusses the arguments both for and against time in Heaven?
**


I find that Catholics typically appeal to a timeless Heaven (Keating calls it the “perpetual Now”) while Protestants adhere to a temporal Heaven.

The notion of a timeless heaven certainly seems to answer some biblical quagmires:

1. Jesus saying to the thief on the cross next to Him “This day you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42). Of course Christ did not enter into Heaven until 40 days after the Resurrection. Only if at the boundary of death do we enter into a timeless existence can we reconcile this promise.

2. Jesus saying “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.” (John 3:13, RSV). Note the use of the past tense form in reference to the Ascension – as if it had already occurred. Only if one thinks of the Ascension from the perspective of a timeless Heaven can this be so.

3. When the Gospels speak of Christ’s offering, they are addressing the “earthly” offering, i.e. His death on a cross. When Hebrews speaks of Christ’s offering, it is in reference to the “heavenly” offering made in the sanctuary of Heaven before God. The Bible sees these two offerings as one, simply viewed from different perspectives. Again, the “heavenly” offering could not have occurred prior to the bodily Ascension. Thus it is disjoint in time from the “earthly” offering – a contradiction unless Heaven exists beyond time.

In addition there are many philosophical and even scientific (if you start with the given of Heaven), that seem to reinforce the notion of a timeless Heaven. (I think the Kalam Argument is particularly compelling.)


Anyway, I have typically found that Protestants are willing to conclude that God exists beyond time but not Heaven itself – and definitely not any heavenly creature that inhabits the Kingdom. The scriptural passage most cited by the “temporalists” is:

[9] When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; [10] they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” [11] Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:9-11, RSV)

There is at least an implication here, though faint, that the saints experience time. Is this a viable rebuttal?

Your comments are welcome. My appolgies if this ground has been covered.

God bless,

RodK


#2

I don’t believe that the precise nature of our heavenly existence has been clearly revealed to us by God, either by direct revelation or by the teaching ministry of the Church (hence, nobody knows for sure).

However, I doubt our heavenly existence will be comparable to our very temporal earthly existence, where our life is doled out to us one instant at a time. But neither do I think that in heaven we will fully experience the “eternal now” that is God’s sole purview. I believe that in heaven we will experience a “sequence of events” that in some fashion corresponds to our earthly life (this comes before that, or this causes that to be). But I don’t think that experience will be as limited or as restrictive as our earthly existence.

Sorry - that’s not much of an answer…


#3

Does time exist in Heaven? I think that we can have various answers to this without any danger of falling into heresy :slight_smile:

At the time of the Last Judgement a “new heaven and new earth” will come into existence. It makes sense that time will not cease at the Last Judgement but it will continue. Time is a part of God’s creation, as will be the new heaven and earth - these are created things which have a beginning in time… and it seems likely that they have a continuance in time.

Revelation 22:1-2

    And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as
    crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,
    in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river
    was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its
    fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the
    healing of the nations.

Notice the passing of time. The tree of life puts forth its fruit “every month.”


#4

RodK: Regarding your first point, it is not really an argument for a timeless heaven. Jesus was with the thief in paradise that very first day. If you recall, we confess in the creed (both the Apostle’s and Nicene) that Jesus descended to Hades, the abode of the dead. As Holy Mother Church, and Scripture supports, the righteous of the pre-Church period went to Hades, to what Christ call’s Abraham’s Bosom (see Luke 16:19-31). As the theif died prior to age of the Church, he would have gone down to Hades as well, with Jesus, and then brought up to Heaven with the other OT saints when Jesus opened the way.

God bless,
In Christ,
Tyler


#5

instead of losing the dimension of time, I tend to believe one can travel both forward and backward along the time axis as well as three spacial axis (x,y,z) perhaps a few other axis as well.


#6

i think that the best answer is that time as we know it will change. it surprised me that no one brought up the ‘half hour’ bit from revelation. it says in… the last 3 or 4 chapters of revelation (time is pressing (ha! ironically) or i’d look it up right now) that there was silence in heaven for half an hour. some say this is an argument for the idea that women will not arrive in heaven until AFTER this 1/2 hour is over. :wink: but seriously, that certainly SOUNDS like something we’d call time.

but time, as we know it now, is a measure of entropy - the breakdown of the universe. i don’t think we’ll experience entropy in heaven. so the nature of time itself will change - we’ll have time (it seems, from our reading of revelation), but it will be redeemed, along with the rest of creation.

however, to be completely candid, the real answer is: we don’t know. it hasn’t been clearly delineated, either by SS or by the church.


#7

[quote=Fr Ambrose]Does time exist in Heaven? I think that we can have various answers to this without any danger of falling into heresy :slight_smile:

At the time of the Last Judgement a “new heaven and new earth” will come into existence. It makes sense that time will not cease at the Last Judgement but it will continue. Time is a part of God’s creation, as will be the new heaven and earth - these are created things which have a beginning in time… and it seems likely that they have a continuance in time.

Revelation 22:1-2

And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as
crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,
in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river
was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its
fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the
healing of the nations.

Notice the passing of time. The tree of life puts forth its fruit “every month.”
[/quote]

I respectfully disagree.

The Church speaks repeatedly about the “end of time.” (CCC, 77, 743, 759, 782, 788, 820, 827, 840, 860, 865, 1042, 1060, 1079, 1081, 1536, 2749). It seems certain that time will come to a relative end, at the eschaton, in as much as all things that are worthy will be made perfect.

The realist position (St. Thomas Aquinas and the majority of the medieval scholastics) posits that time is due to the objective reality that there are bodies that move in space, but it becomes time only when the human mind applies a measurement based on before and after, and succession and duration. Because there is a real difference between rest and motion, the human mind can make a distinction between the state of the body before movement and the state of the body after movement, properly called past and future, and can place a fleeting moment in between called the present. Movement therefore provides the mind with a real duration and succession, and the mind is able to apply a measurement of that movement in relation to all movement in general. The human mind can not conceptualize time without the duration and succession provided by the local movement of many bodies. Practically speaking the primary local movement to which all other movements are measured is the movement of the heavens.

This makes sense even in relation to our modern methods of keeping time. A long time ago people realized that it was getting hot before it should, and they realized with some astonishment that their calendar was off because the movement of the heavens was irregular. The calendar was adjusted accordingly to make up for this little imperfection, but the calendar remained based on the movement of the heavens for lack of a better measure. At any rate, the human mind applies the science to the movement of bodies in space. This proves that time is dependent on two things simultaneously: mind and real bodies in an objective world. Today we have things called atomic clocks that work on the exact same principle, except in this case time is measured in relation to another local movement, instead of the heavens, the movement of particles in an atom. The atomic clock proved the scholastics right in a way, but with some very odd outcomes. For example, we now know that time “moves slower” the closer the measure is taken to a dense object. Time moves slower on the surface of the earth than it does way up in the sky. That would have surprised Saint Thomas Aquinas in practice, but not in theory.

Movement entails change, either change in position, change in state (as in from being to non-being), change in regards to accident (as in from white painted table to green painted table), and change in regards to potency and act. In order for something to move it must be capable of change—it must be mutable. A perfect being is fully in act, does not move, can not pass out of existence or suffer to be an effect of another cause. That which is perfect is immutable for these reasons. God, of course, is immutable, thus eternal, thus not subject to time.


#8

Is there time in heaven?

Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they "see Him as He is

.

–CCC, 1023God, himself, is not subject to time (CCC, 102).

Christ’s Resurrection is beyond time and space (CCC, 646), and it is the first fruits of the general resurrection in which we are called to share (CCC, 655).

To this extent, then, we share the eternity of God in heaven. Time is dependent on the fixed movement of bodies in space (the stars, particles in an atom, etc.). Movement denotes change or mutability. Mutability indicates imperfection. That which is perfect does not suffer accidental change and is fully in act. This we understand as God. In heaven, God is the only fixed object of reference (for we will be like him as the CCC states). There is no change, no mutability, no movement and, consequently, no time in God—He is eternal. Thus, there’s no time in heaven. There is no succession or duration in heaven, not physical, volitional or mental, because these do not exist in God. There is no succession and duration in God. However, the souls in heaven are still subject to change, namely the change they will undergo with the eschaton, but this is not time as it is relative to a single movement. Time depends on the fixed movement of many bodies in space. A single movement is not enough for mind to apply the measure.

Everyone has only one thought in heaven and it never changes—God. Now what that means in the beatific vision is a matter for a lot speculation. However, we can say that this one thought, one desire, apparently incorporates a bunch that we for now can only conceptualize in terms of duration and succession. For example, we know that the faithful in heaven can pray for us here below. That one thought and one desire is capable of subsuming every thought or desire one might have for all those loved by God.

Human beings have never experienced freedom from time (immutability and eternity), so there is no clear way to express such a state of being. The Sacred Scriptures provide many different images to convey the joy of heaven and the end time. However, we are unable to fathom life in heaven or in the eschaton free from the constraints of our feeble minds and inadequate to the task language. Scripture, itself, attests to this: What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9). We can not expect Sacred Scripture to accomplish something that can only be accomplished in heaven.


#9

[quote=RodK]Does anyone know of a good reference that discusses the arguments both for and against time in Heaven?

The notion of a timeless heaven certainly seems to answer some biblical quagmires: ,…
RodK
[/quote]

Thought provoking question, Rod.

In Revelation we find “there was silence in heaven for about the space of 1/2 hour”.

Of course, this is probably in order to give time for all the prophecy preachers to correct their prophecy charts to accurately reflect God’s timeline for judgement. He, he ,he:D

Faithful One


#10

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