God, time, timelessness, God created time, time is in God, God made room for creation… theo-philosophical questions which we probably cannot give a final answer to. I suggested in an earlier post that the idea of God living in an ‘eternal now’ presents so many more difficulties than the simple view we have in Scripture that s/he lives with creation, that past events (e.g. the Exodus) are past events for God and future events (e.g. the parousia) are future events also for God. The Scriptures also affirm that God is not to be identified with creation. S/he is separate from creation. It does though beg the question of when was ‘the beginning of creation?’
There is nothing intrinsic within Scripture to suggest that creation as we have it was ex-nihilo. ‘In the beginning’ can indicate a ‘when God began creating’ and that he worked on stuff that was already there: ‘surface of the deep’, ‘without form and empty’. We also have a major issue as to what sense we can make of ‘God as creator’ if there was (a time verb) when there was no creation. It is almost as bizarre as claiming to be an artist but to have never picked up a brush, canvas and sought to produce something.
The Scriptural stories are to teach truth, not a set of facts. Truth transcends facts. So I do not find myself bound to believe there was a time when God created or that there was necessarily a historic day when humanity fell. Yes, I could be persuaded to believe that creation is eternal, or that what we term the universe is not the ‘first’ creation. We believe in an infinite God so there is no necessity to believe that this is the only universe that exists. However, it is the only universe that exists for us, and until we can master space travel, the planet we find ourselves on is the only planet for us, and the street where I live is the only street where I can live out a life of discipled integrity.
An eternal fall? Why not. Unless one feels obliged to take Gen. 1-3 as essentially literal we could take it as a comment on the history of humanity, falling short of the glory of God, choosing to believe a lie about God, refusing to live as s/he lives (within love boundaries) and seeking to consume whatever takes our fancy has produced the universal sickness called the bondage of sin. If we took it that way we would be thinking more about the sick needing healing, rather than the guilty needing forgiveness, though once healing was experienced at any level I think the automatic response would be ‘I have been guilty all these years of mis-representing God’.
So philosophically I am probably pretty much in the camp of creation is eternal, the fall is a statement of humanity’s bondage. Theologically I am very happy to affirm a beginning, the start of the project which has an end (in the sense of eschaton not telos). I am happy to say ‘we fell’ and without the second Adam are doomed.
I am also very happy to affirm that when we talk theology (God-talk) we don’t always know what we are talking about!
More to come – omnipotence and omniscience.