Thoughts on Eternity

Over at Resting in Apricity, a brief discussion took place in the comments concerning the nature of Eternity. My initial idea of eternity was to associate it with the concept of forever. The blogmistress, CaseyAnn, had a different concept of eternity: that of timelessness. When we consider these two definitions in the context of God, her’s was clearly the superior. When I commented on the two different approaches we took, she left this great comment:

Yes, yes, very good observation and the most beautiful revelation about God. A major error with seeing eternity as quantitative is that it gives the impression of a beginning and an end. God is eternal: He had no beginning and has no end.

I could be off the mark here, but I’ve tended to see eternity as only intelligible as something of an aspect of God. God didn’t create eternity, after all. It gets somewhat confusing when one thinks of hell, however. But my understanding is that hell is not, as popularly regarded, the absence of God but His very presence, which tortures the Godless. This is consistent with the idea that eternity cannot be separated from God.

It is supremely difficult for some people to grasp the concept that time itself is a construct, an artificial creation of something greater. This is understandable, because we are by our very nature temporal creatures, thinking in terms of before and after, cause and effect. It takes concerted effort to try and free our minds from the boundaries of causality, and to imagine something that just is. Even when we can achieve that kind of mental state, we must still acknowledge that as but a tiny mote amidst the unimaginable immensity of Creation, our minds cannot grasp but the smallest sliver of the majesty that is Eternity.

Advertisements

15 Comments

Filed under Christianity, God, Uncategorized

15 responses to “Thoughts on Eternity

  1. Eternity, I would suspect, likely just “is” — there is no past, present, or future.

    God states very clearly that He is “I AM” or “I AM THAT I AM” and that we who are in Him (His bride) will be in full commune with Him.

    A bit of explanation on that is here and analysis of other various names of God:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_that_I_Am

    Regarding hell the Scriptures state multiple times that those who are not ready or don’t repent will be throw out where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Not exactly sure if this implies “torture” or if those who are thrown out are weeping and gnashing their teeth because they are not rendered worthy to be in the presence of the living God.

    I don’t think there is enough information in the Scriptures to say that His presence tortures the godless given Jesus’ analogy on being “thrown out”, even though in the OT it does talk about how no one who has sinned can stand before the presence of God and live.

  2. Eternity is being without past or future. All at once and unending. It is to man’s soul, rest.

  3. Elspeth

    The idea of eternity is what helps me reconcile and avoid the highly charged Protestant debate about predestination vs. free will.

    We are severly limited in our ability to decipher this so I simply stay out of it, choosing to make godly choices to the best of my ability and leave the Sovereign One to work out the rest.

    I enjoyed this Donal, this invitation to suspend thinking about the temporal for a moment.

    Thank you.

  4. She worded that very nicely and was easy to understand, mind boggling to grasp. I like how she defined eternity as an aspect of God. Since God is also eternity, I always tell myself, I will always be learning about God since his characteristics, past, future, and present are for eternity and while I’ll always be learning, I will never fully understand Him (since the human mind was not created for that). I imagine everyday, even the angels are surprised, when they learn something new about God.

  5. Yes indeedy. We know now that time and space are connected, so time as we know it only applies to those things within space.

    Whether there’s time or something like it outside of this space, remains to be seen.

  6. CaseyAnn

    @Deep Strength, who wrote:

    “I don’t think there is enough information in the Scriptures to say that His presence tortures the godless . . .”

    Assuming my understanding is correct (note that I acknowledge it may not be), it would come from the Church (who gave us Scripture). Authoritarian interpretations of Scripture cannot reside in silly bloggers like us. God surely didn’t intend that.

    Neither does He intend for everything to be interpreted literally. I think my idea came from the apparent contradiction of God’s omnipresence and hell being His absence. However, this may stem from faultily thinking of hell as a place, rather than a state of being. As a state of being it may very well be such an absence that tortures.

    I’ll do more research into this soon, but for now I have other duties calling me.

    Thanks, Donal.

  7. Your welcome CaseyAnn. I really should be thanking you for helping to inspire me to think about God in a different and illuminating way.

  8. @ CaseyAnn

    Assuming my understanding is correct (note that I acknowledge it may not be), it would come from the Church (who gave us Scripture). Authoritarian interpretations of Scripture cannot reside in silly bloggers like us. God surely didn’t intend that.

    Neither does He intend for everything to be interpreted literally. I think my idea came from the apparent contradiction of God’s omnipresence and hell being His absence. However, this may stem from faultily thinking of hell as a place, rather than a state of being. As a state of being it may very well be such an absence that tortures.

    Quite possibly. On the one hand, there are things that in the Bible are literal and there are things that are metaphorical, and then there are things that are both literal and metaphorical at the same time. It could be any one of the 3 really so who knows.

    I’d be interested to see what the Jewish thought is on the same topic. Maybe I’ll do a bit of research too if I have time. The Jewish views on sin are particularly illuminating in terms of how Jesus talked about sin the NT if you want to check that out.

  9. It is supremely difficult for some people to grasp the concept that time itself is a construct, an artificial creation of something greater.

    I love thinking about that stuff. If you’re interested, I could recommend some books to you – The Fourth Dimension by Rudy Rucker and Brian Greene’s books, for example.

    I blame this bizarre fascination with so-called higher reality on too many comic books as a kid.

  10. I blame this bizarre fascination with so-called higher reality on too many comic books as a kid.

    Wasn’t comic books, but sci-fi books in general which did it for me.

  11. “the majesty that is Eternity”
    Just lovely. I think this may be the best expression regarding Eternity that I’ve heard. I forget sometimes that one cannot separate “always” from Him; and He IS majesty.
    (I lurk, but enjoy your site very much)

    [Ed: No need to be so shy. I like getting different viewpoints]

  12. Wasn’t comic books, but sci-fi books in general which did it for me.

    Yeah, but the comics I read back then had a lot of sci-fi in them (I had a basic understanding of parallel universes and time travel by the time I was 7. ‘Scuse my bragging here, heh ). In fact, some of the stories were actually written by SF authors Edmond Hamilton wrote a lot of Superman comics, for example.

    Side note – Superman, Batman, and a number of other books were edited by Julius Schwartz, who “In 1932, co-published (with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J. Ackerman) Time Traveller, one of the first science fiction fanzines. Schwartz and Weisinger also founded the Solar Sales Service literary agency (1934–1944) where Schwartz represented such writers as Alfred Bester, Stanley G. Weinbaum, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and H. P. Lovecraft, including some of Bradbury’s first published work and Lovecraft’s last. In addition, Schwartz helped organize the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939.
    In 1944 he became an editor at All-American Comics, one of the companies that evolved into DC Comics. He recruited Bester to contribute to the company’s line of comic books.”

    Just a fun fact. Weisinger is the one who got Hamilton to write for Superman, by the by. [ /end pointless info dump ]

  13. In 1944 he became an editor at All-American Comics, one of the companies that evolved into DC Comics. He recruited Bester to contribute to the company’s line of comic books.”

    Just a fun fact. Weisinger is the one who got Hamilton to write for Superman, by the by. [ /end pointless info dump ]

    Compared to Marvel, DC comics always had a strong Scifi bent; especially in the 1970’s (I assume you are in your 40’s so during your childhood) when Jack Kirby was at DC and publishing his “Fourth World” opus.

    Thank you for the info dump though; it does explain why older DC comics often had shout outs to semi-obscure scifi works (I collect old science fiction mags so I know my stuff 🙂 ). I assumed it was all Kirby’s doing – I never thought it could have originated from higher up!

  14. It is supremely difficult for some people to grasp the concept that time itself is a construct, an artificial creation of something greater

    4D thinking is extremely difficult. But it can be sorta fun too…

    4-dimensional Rubik’s Cube.

    Be glad I didn’t go with the 5D, or worse, 7D cubes. No, I’m not kidding.

  15. Pingback: 100th Post Blogapalooza | Donal Graeme

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s