The eternal now?


#1

I’m reading Karl Keating’s iconic book ‘Catholicism and Fundamentalism’, really good stuff by the way, and I come across this concept that God is not limited by time and that in heaven it’s always an ‘eternal now’. Jimmy Akin used ‘eternal now’ in, at least, one of his blog entries too.

While I cannot fully fathom how that might work in a practical sense, I realise that that may be what actually happens … but -

a) Where did this idea come from if everything in the bible seems to be in a space and time continuum? - From when Lucifer is created to when he falls (all taking place in heaven); and from when Jesus goes to the limbo of the fathers (or hell, as its commonly known) to when He ascends to heaven (taking place in both ‘worlds’).

b) If we go to heaven for an eternity … how’s that work if there is no time that goes on for eternity?


#2

Congratulations! :clapping: You’ve landed in a mystery of the faith! There are things about God and Heaven that we humans simply cannot understand. It’s just too much for our tiny brains (nothing personal!)

The reason everything in the Bible follows a nice time-line is because it was written by men, though inspired by God. So we put a “humanly” twist on everything.

Example: God created the world in 7 days. What is 7 days? To us it means 7 24 hours segment. But we only have that because that’s how long it takes the sun to go around and come back on our planet Earth and Earth wasn’t there when God started. And God didn’t begin by creating a watch so He could time Himself.

So even though it says 7 days, it could have been so fast it would’ve looked to us like it happened all at once. Or it could have been billions of years between creating light and creating man. We just don’t know.

So things like “If there’s no time, how is there eternity”, you can spend time thinking about and philosophers have spent plenty of time trying to grasp, but you’ll never fully get it. Don’t let it discourage you or distract you from the more important aspects of your faith.

Sometimes it is fun to think about those completely ungraspable concepts.:hmmm:
:heart:


#3

Don’t congratulate me too soon. I understand that the bible was written by men who used time lines … that’s precisely my question … where did the concept of the eternal now come from if the bible uses time lines? i.e. where did this ‘ungraspable’ concept come from?

Who coined the term ‘eternal now’? What’s its genesis?


#4

Check out the article on “eternity” in the Catholic Encyclopedia found here: newadvent.org/cathen/05551b.htm


#5

It comes from, for one thing, Sacred Tradition.

It can also be seen in creation, insofar as that science tells us that time is a 4th dimension of existence, meaning it had to be created, meaning that it does not exist for God, but is something he created for us.

It also can be found in several Bible passages, such as:

a) In Hebrews where it is said that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

b) In Revelation where it says that Jesus was “slain from the foundation of the world” even though He was only actually slain at one point in time. Both can be true if it is the case that Jesus, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, is in His existence existing in an eternal now in which all times are present.

c) Perhaps most notably in God’s name. He tells Moses that He is “I Am.” Now this is not a name in the sense of being something we use to refer to a person, because God does not need something like that. When He did, His name was Jesus :p. It is a description of God. This is because He just is. His name is not “I Was” or “I Will Be” but “I Am.”


#6

Thanks Lazer, quite inciteful.

I had always thought that this was more to show that God is consistent. If something is a sin, it won’t cease to be a sin … like how the Protestants changed their minds over artificial contraception in 1930.

[quote=Lazerlike42]b) In Revelation where it says that Jesus was “slain from the foundation of the world” even though He was only actually slain at one point in time. Both can be true if it is the case that Jesus, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, is in His existence existing in an eternal now in which all times are present.

c) Perhaps most notably in God’s name. He tells Moses that He is “I Am.” Now this is not a name in the sense of being something we use to refer to a person, because God does not need something like that. When He did, His name was Jesus :p. It is a description of God. This is because He just is. His name is not “I Was” or “I Will Be” but “I Am.”
[/quote]

Good points! Yeah, I AM.


#7

Another way to think of the eternal now is this:

God possesses the totality of his being all at once. That is eternity.

We don’t. We only possess our being moment by moment, instant by instant. I’m the same person now that I was 10 years ago, but those past moments are now part of my past, and future moments are part of my future. I won’t be in full possession of my whole being until death and eternity. Only then can we possess the totality of our being, all at once.

You might also want to read some Frank Sheed or Peter Kreeft.


#8

To me, the idea of an “eternal now” is very much in tandem with physics and the idea of “time” as a dimension.

That is to say, we experience 3 dimensions almost fully (we can perceive 3 dimensions - length, width, and height - of an object, but can’t “see” them all at exactly the same time) and even less of time, a 4th dimension.

God, in Heaven, however, is above this dimensional limitation. In humility, He steps into time, because we can only perceive things through the “backwards telescope” of time. (This term, “backwards telescope,” is used Sheed or Kreeft, I think, I can’t remember which)

I don’t mean to get too technical or “out-there” and away from the theology of the matter, just pointing out that this theological idea works out well with aspects of contemporary science and physics.


#9

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