Lane of Roses | How to Start a Relationship with God
A Simple Theology of Relationships (What does the Bible Say about Lane share eight biblical truths that summarize how God wants us to. God often uses the messy conflict-ridden relationships in our lives to transform In their book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, authors Tim Lane and Paul. What do we need to know about God? God loves us and wants us to have a personal relationship with Him. God loves us even if we haven't loved him. “In this is.
Her openness has given us a front row seat to see the power of God intersect with her weakness. Her continued vulnerability and growth in godliness encourage us to be humble with one another, and to believe that God is able to change us too.
One man who had some deep struggles and a lot of anger has grown through repenting of sin and being vulnerable one on one and in the group. He has been willing to hear the encouragement and challenges of others, and to stay in community throughout his struggle He has become an example in serving others, a better listener, and more gentle with his wife. As a group, we have confronted anxiety, interpersonal strife, the need to forgive, lust, family troubles, unbelief, the fear of man, hypocrisy, unemployment, sickness, lack of love, idolatry, and marital strife.
We have been helped, held accountable, and lifted up by one another. His life does, however, lack extension. Arguments for Divine Timelessness Although there are many arguments for the claim that God is timeless, this essay will look at three of the most important.
These are arguments concerning God's knowledge of future free actions, the fullness of God's life, and God's creation of the universe.
In addition, we will look at some responses to these arguments. God's Knowledge of the Future The most prominent argument for divine timelessness is that this position offers a solution to the problem of God's foreknowledge of free actions. The challenge of reconciling human freedom and divine omniscience is best seen if we presume that God is temporal.
If God is omniscient and infallible, he knows every truth, and he is never mistaken.
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If human beings are free in a libertarian sense, then some actions a person performs are up to her in the sense that she can initiate or refrain from initiating the action. The problem arises if it is supposed that someone will in the future choose freely some particular action. Suppose Jeanie will decide tomorrow to make a cup of tea at 4: If this is a free act on her part, it must be within her power to make the cup of tea or to refrain from making it.
If God is in time and knows everything, then hundreds of years ago, he already knew that Jeanie would make the cup of tea. When tomorrow comes, can Jeanie refrain from making the cup of tea? As Nelson Pike has argued, Pike she can do so only if it is within her power to change what it was that God believed from the beginning of time.
So, although God has always believed that she would make the tea, she must have the power to change what it was that God believed. She has to be able to make it the case that God always believed that she would not make the cup of tea.
Many philosophers have argued that no one has this kind of power over the past, so human freedom is not compatible with divine foreknowledge. If God is timeless, however, it seems that this problem does not arise.
- A Simple Theology of Relationships
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God does not believe things at points in time and Jeanie does not, therefore, have to have power over God's past beliefs. She does need power over his timeless beliefs.
This power is not seen to be problematic because God's timeless knowledge of an event is thought to be strongly analogous to our present knowledge of an event. It is the occurring of the event that determines the content of our knowledge of the event. So too, it is the occurring of the event that determines the content of God's knowledge. If Jeanie makes a cup of tea, God knows it timelessly. If she refrains, he knows that she refrains. God's knowledge is not past but it is timeless.
One might argue that even if God is temporal, the content of his foreknowledge is determined by the occurring of the event in the same way. This claim, of course, is true. There are two items which allow for difficulty here. First, it is only in the case of a temporal God foreknowing Jeanie's making tea that she needs to have counterfactual power over the past, Second, if God knew a hundred years ago that she was going to make tea, there is a sense in which she can "get in between" God's knowledge and the event.
In other words, the fact that God knows what he knows is fixed before she initiated the event. If it is a free choice on her part, she can still refrain from making the tea. Her decision to make tea or not stands temporally between the content of God's beliefs and the occurring of the event. The position that God is timeless is often cited as the best solution to the problem of reconciling God's knowledge of the future and human freedom.
If God is timeless, after all, he does not foreknow anything. Boethius, Anselm, Aquinas and many others have appealed to God's atemporality to solve this problem. While the proposal that God is timeless seems to offer a good strategy, at least one significant problem remains. This problem is that of prophecy. Suppose God tells Moses, among other things, that Jeanie will make a cup of tea tomorrow. Now we have a different situation entirely.
While God's knowledge that Jeanie will make a cup of tea is not temporally located, Moses' knowledge that Jeanie will make tea is temporally located. Furthermore, since the information came from God, Moses cannot be mistaken about the future event WiderkerWierenga, The prophet problem is a problem, some will argue, only if God actually tells Moses what Jeanie will do.
God, it seems, does not tell much to Moses or any other prophet. After all, why should God tell Moses? Moses certainly does not care about Jeanie's cup of tea. Since prophecy of this sort is pretty rare, we can be confident that God's knowledge does not rule out our freedom. Some have argued, however, that if it is even possible for God to tell Moses or anyone else for that matter what Jeanie will do, then we have a version of the same compatibility problem we would have if we held that God is in time and foreknows her tea making.
We could call this version, the "possible prophet" problem. If the possible prophet problem is serious enough to show that God's timeless knowledge of future acts future, that is, from our present vantage point is incompatible with those acts being free, then holding God to be timeless does not solve the problem of foreknowledge.
The Fullness of God's Being In thinking about God's nature, we notice that whatever God is, he is to the greatest degree possible. He knows everything that it is possible to know. He can do anything that it is possible to do. He is maximally merciful. This "maximal property idea" can be applied as well to the nature of God's life. God is a living being. He is not an abstract object like a number.
He is not inanimate like a magnetic force. If whatever is true of him is true of him to the greatest degree possible, then his life is the fullest life possible. Whatever God's life is like, he surely has it to the fullest degree. Some philosophers have argued that this fact about God's life requires that he be timeless. No being that experiences its life sequentially can have the fullest life possible.
Temporal beings experience their lives one moment at a time. The past is gone and the future is not yet. The past part of a person's life is gone forever. He can remember it, but he cannot experience it directly.
The future part of his life is not yet here. He can anticipate it and worry about it, but he cannot yet experience it.
He only experiences a brief slice of his life at any one time. The life of a temporal thing, then, is spread out and diffuse.
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It is the transient nature of our experience that gives rise to much of the wistfulness and regret we may feel about our lives. This feeling of regret lends credibility to the idea that a sequential life is a life that is less than maximally full. Older people sometimes wish for earlier days, while younger people long to mature. We grieve for the people we love who are now gone. We grieve also for the events and times that no longer persist.
When we think about the life of God, it is strange to think of God longing for the past or for the future. The idea that God might long for some earlier time or regret the passing of some age seems like an attribution of weakness or inadequacy to God. God in his self-sufficiency cannot in any way be inadequate. If it is the experience of the passage of time that grounds these longings, there is good reason not to attribute any experience of time to God. Therefore, it is better to think of God as timeless.
He experiences all of his life at once in the timeless present. Nothing of his life is past and nothing of it is future. Boethius' famous definition of eternity captures this idea: Boethius contrasts this timeless mode of being with a temporal mode: However, those who think that God is in some way temporal do not want to attribute weakness or inadequacy to God.
Nor do they hold that God's life is less than maximally full. They will deny, rather, that God cannot experience a maximally full life if he is temporal. These philosophers will point out that many of our regrets about the passage of time are closely tied to our finitude. It is our finitude that grounds our own inadequacy, not our temporality.
We regret the loss of the past both because our lives are short and because our memories are dim and inaccurate. God's life, temporal though it may be, is not finite and his memory is perfectly vivid. He does not lose anything with the passage of time. Nor does his life draw closer to its end.
If our regrets about the passage of time are more a function of our finitude than of our temporality, much of the force of these considerations is removed. One important issue that this argument concerning the fullness of God's life ought to put to rest is the idea that those who hold God to be timeless hold that God is something inert like a number or a property.
Whether or not they are correct, the proponent of timelessness holds that it is the fullness of God's life rather than its impoverishment that determines his relation to time. God and the Creation of the Universe Another argument for God's timelessness begins with the idea that time itself is contingent. If time is contingent and God is not, then it is at least possible that God exist without time.
This conclusion is still far from the claim that God is, in fact, timeless but perhaps we can say more. If time is contingent, then it depends upon God for its existence.
Either God brought time into existence or he holds it in existence everlastingly. The claim that time is contingent, though, is not uncontroversial. Arguments for the necessity of time will be considered below. If God created time as part of his creation of the universe, then it is important whether or not the universe had a beginning at all.
Although it might seem strange to think that God could create the universe even if the universe had no beginning, it would not be strange to philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas. Working within the Aristotelean framework, he considered an everlasting universe to be a very real possibility.
He argued in his third way that even a universe with an infinite past would need to depend upon God for its existence. In his view, even if time had no beginning, it was contingent. God sustains the universe, and time itself, in existence at each moment that it exists. The majority position today is that the universe did have a beginning. What most people mean by this claim is that the physical universe began. It is an open question for many whether time had a beginning or whether the past is infinite.
If the past is infinite, then it is metaphysical time and not physical time that is everlasting. Arguments such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument aim to show that it is not possible that the past is infinite Craig and Smith, ; Craig b. Suppose time came into existence with the universe so that the universe has only a finite past. This means that physical time was created by God. It may be the case that metaphysical time is infinite or that God created "pure duration" metaphysical time also.
In the latter case, God had to be timeless. God created both physical and metaphysical time and God existed entirely without time. God, then, had to be timeless. Unless God became temporal at some point, God remains timeless.
Divine Temporality The position that God is temporal sometimes strikes the general reader as a position that limits the nature of God. Philosophers who defend divine temporality are committed to a similar methodology to that held by those who are defenders of timelessness.
They aim to work within the parameters of historical, biblical orthodoxy and to hold to the maximal property idea that whatever God is, he is to the greatest possible degree. Thus, proponents of divine temporality will hold that God is omniscient and omnipotent. God's temporality is not seen as a limit to his power or his knowledge or his being.
Those who hold to a temporal God often work on generating solutions to the challenge of divine foreknowledge and human freedom. They work within the notion that God knows whatever can be known and is thus omniscient.
Even those philosophers who argue that God cannot know future free actions defend divine omniscience. They either think that there are no truths about future free actions or that none of those truths can be known, even by God Hasker, and Pinnock et al. God is omniscient because he knows everything that can be known. Divine temporality is not a departure from orthodox concepts of God.
In fact, it is often the commitment to biblical orthodoxy itself that generates the arguments that God is best thought of as temporal.
Two of these arguments will be discussed: Arguments for Temporality a. Divine Action in the World God acts in the world. He created the universe and he sustains it in existence. God's sustaining the universe in its existence at each moment is what keeps the universe existing from moment to moment. If, at any instant, it were not sustained, it would cease to exist. If God sustains the universe by performing different actions at different moments of time, then he changes from moment to moment.
If God changes, then he is temporal. God's interventions in the world are often interactions with human beings. He redeems his people, answers their prayer, and forgives their sin.
He also comes to their aid and comforts and strengthens them. Can a proponent of divine timelessness make sense of God interacting in these ways? It all depends, of course, on what the necessary conditions for interaction turn out to be. If it is not possible to answer a request a prayer unless the action is performed after the request, then the fact that God answers prayer will guarantee that he is temporal. Some thinkers have thought that an answer can be initiated only after a request. Others have argued that, although answers to requests normally come after the request, it is not necessary that they do so.
In order to count as an answer, the action must occur because of the request. Not any because of relation will do, however.
An answer is not normally thought of as being caused by the request, yet a cause-effect relation is a kind of because of relation. Answers are contingent whereas effects of causes are in some sense necessary. The because of relation that is relevant to answering a request has to do with intention or purpose. In some cases, it seems that it is not necessary for the request to come before the answer. If a father knows that his daughter will come home and ask for a peanut butter sandwich, he can make the sandwich ahead of time.
There is some sense in which he is responding to her request, even if he has not yet been asked. If the relation between a request and an answer is not necessarily a temporal one, then a timeless God can answer prayer.
He hears all our prayers in his one timeless conscious act and in that same conscious act, he wills the answers to our various requests. Perhaps the effects of God's actions are located successively in time but his acting is not. In one eternal act he wills the speaking to Moses at one time and the parting of the sea at another. So Moses hears God speaking from the bush at one time and much later Moses sees God part the sea.
But in God's life and consciousness, these actions are not sequential. He wills timelessly both the speaking and the parting. The sequence of the effects of God's timeless will does not imply that God's acts themselves are temporal. Divine Knowledge of the Present Although God's knowledge of the future is thought by many to be a strong support for divine timelessness, many philosophers think that God's knowledge of the present strongly supports his temporality.
If God knows everything, he must know what day it is today. If God is timeless, so the argument goes, he cannot know what day it is today. Therefore, he must be temporal. This argument is put forward in various ways by Craig, a, b; DeWeese, ; Hasker, ; Kretzmann, ; Padgett,and Wolterstorff, To get at the claim that a timeless God cannot know what day it is, we can start with the facts that a timeless God cannot change and that God knows everything it is possible to know.
But if God knows that today is December 13,tomorrow he will know something else. He will know that yesterday it was December 13, and that today is December 14, So God must know different things at different times. If the contents of God's knowledge changes, he changes. If he changes, he is temporal and not timeless. The quick answer to this concern is to deny that God knows something different at different times.
First, it is obvious that someone who holds that God is timeless does not think that God knows things at times at all. God's knowings are not temporally located even if what he knows is temporally located. It is not true, it will be insisted, that God knows something today. He knows things about today but he knows these things timelessly. God knows that today is December 13 in that he knows that the day I refer to when I use the word "today" in writing this introduction is December When we raise the question again tomorrow "Can a timeless God know what day it is today?
Temporal indexical terms such as "today," "tomorrow," and "now" refer to different temporal locations with different uses. In this way they are similar to terms such as "here," "you," and "me. Since indexical terms may refer to different items with different uses, we can make such sentences more clear by replacing the indexical term with a term whose reference is fixed.
God keeps us in messy relationships for his redemptive purpose. This sixth fact reminds us that the very thing we would naturally seek to avoid is what God has chosen to use to make us more like him! We often think that if God really cared for us, he would make our relationships easier. In reality, a difficult relationship is a mark of his love and care.
This is how God created relationships to function. What happens in the messiness of relationships is that our hearts are revealed, our weaknesses are exposed, and we start coming to the end of ourselves. Only when this happens do we reach out for the help God alone can provide. While we would like to avoid the mess and enjoy deep and intimate community, God says that it is in the very process of working through the mess that intimacy is found.
The fact that our relationships work as well as they do is a sure sign of grace. One of the biggest impediments we face in relationships is our spiritual blindness.
We frequently do not see our sin, nor do we see the many ways in which God protects us and others from it. God constantly protects us from ourselves by restraining our sin. He was overwhelmed by the enemy army that surrounded him until God opened his eyes to see the far more formidable army of angels God had sent to protect him.
It was the spiritual blindness of unbelief. How do you measure your potential in relationships? Considering our sin, it is amazing that people get along at all! Each night, the evening news begins with a litany of murders, rapes, and robberies that suggest that your community is a very dangerous place.
Yet it fails to cite the thousands of good things people do to make that same community livable. Our view of our relationships can be just as slanted. We tend to see sins, weaknesses, and failures rather than the good things God is accomplishing.
If you look for God in your relationships, you will always find things to be thankful for. Scripture offers a clear and attractive hope for our relationships. Does the challenge and mess of relationships leave you discouraged? Does the biblical honesty about human community shock you? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the hard work relationships require? If so, you are ready for this last fact: The shattered relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the cross provides the basis for our reconciliation.
Jesus was willing to become the forsaken friend so that we could have loving friendships. Jesus was willing to be the rejected Lord so that we could live in loving submission to one another.