Any thoughts on the dilemma Calvinists now face viz a viz astronomers recent observations? Apparently the newer “telescopes” have helped verify Einstein’s theory of relativity. Quantum physics has moved on from workable equations to observable phenomena. Particularly regarding properties and behavior of light. This is significant because it proves that time is part of the created universe, like gravity, matter, energy etc. Doesn’t this blow up all the fancy supralapsarianistic-expeealadotious (sorry I couldn’t resist) concepts?
First, I should make it clear that I am NOT a Calvinist. However, your post seems to imply that the Calvinists’ supralapsarian/infralapsarian debate involves the CHRONOLOGICAL order of God’s decree whereas I understand this debate to involve the LOGICAL order of God’s decree — i.e., such views don’t necessarily rule out time being part of God’s creation. Indeed, I believe many Calvinists do believe that time is part of God’s creation.
You claim that evidence for Einstein’s theories of Relativity and/or Quantum Physics “proves that time is part of the created universe, like gravity, matter, energy etc.” How so? Could you explain?
Hey thanks Nathanael. Not sure what order without chronology would be. Order of importance or preference? All the Calvinists I’ve run into say things like “eternity past”. Wouldn’t anything related to foreordination involve a past for God? I like CS Lewis’ statement that “God exists in a great unbounded now”. Some Calvinists also seem to equate eternity with infinity. Which makes sense if you believe God is infinite as opposed to eternal. I’m not an astronomer or very well versed in quantum physics. But you can check out some of the really interesting articles from the past two years in the periodicals like National Geographic.
Welcome Steve! The issue of defining eternity past and future is a very important one. Here are my thoughts.
Ps 90, 2 Sequential Reality
There are two definitions for “time”. One is connected only to creation… it is the measurement of matter in motion. The other is connected to reality which is from God’s nature.
Reality is sequential events… befores and afters going backwards infinitely and forwards infinitely. “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2)… “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). There were events of communication, relationship, and decision making in the Godhead before creation of space and matter… right?
A reality that is sequential and non-sequential for God at the same “time” is a logical contradiction borrowed into Christianity from neo-platonism. The Scripture gives no other “competing” reality for God’s presence, which is contradictory to the word “reality” anyway.
His foreknowledge is dynamic therefore and not static. His understanding is infinite (Ps 147:5). He knows all the possibilities that still exist and all things that are already determined that limit those possibilities.
Some like the illustration of God as a blimp watching the full parade below. But for a blimp to watch a parade, the full parade has to exist. The future does not exist as a completed entity to watch either as a place or in God’s mind.
Reality is only sequential, and comes from God’s eternal nature – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2), “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). Relationship and communication in the Godhead before creation were sequential (befores and afters).
The underlying important issue is – does God’s mind reflect univocally the sequential reality of His Word, or have scholars discovered in their philosophical reasoning that God hid from Scripture His perspective of reality? It would be a perspective that also makes man’s perspective in Scripture actually faulty, for Scripture makes the future as not yet existing, but in reality it is already existing as completed (forever), for God’s reality is the only true one.
Hey Brian. Thanks so much for that response. I needed to read through it a couple of times to make sure I was tracking. It is a logical and scriptural assessment of the time conundrum. I’m still left feeling that at the end of the day it seems to fall back on squeezing eternity back into a timed perspective. I guess I’ll have to fall into the more abstract and philosophical category. I’m more ok with leaving some things labeled mystery and or above my pay grade these days. After 50 plus years of bible reading, study, sermons and conversations i’ve actually come to believe that the human mind plus the bible equals the devil’s playground. Sounds terrible I know. But I’ve decided to go the “spiritual” route and ask God for guidance (His Holy Spirit) in meditative contemplative prayer. It’s been a time of awesome growth. I have less fear of intimacy with God and others, as well as more peace and acceptance. Sorry to go all “touchy feely” on a thread that is supposed to be more intellectual. But sincerely thanks again for the clear answer. Great food for thought.
Hey Steve, some great questions! You stated “Not sure what order without chronology would be. Order of importance or preference?” Well, I’m not sure either. Different flavors of Calvinist may mean different things by this. I suspect that what most mean by “logical order” concerns God’s priorities in His decree(s). Supralapsarian Robert L. Reymond, states* “…since God’s decree is eternal with no chronological antecedence or subsequence in it, there was never a moment when people, viewed as fallen and created people, did not certainly exist as well in it.” Take it for what it’s worth, I guess.
You also stated “All the Calvinists I’ve run into say things like ‘eternity past’.” Paul Helm, a Calvinist** who wrote the chapter “Divine Timeless Eternity” in “Four Views: God and Time”***, states “Though this view (let us call it ‘eternalism’) has an impressive pedigree in the history of western Theism — it is the ‘mainstream’ view represented by Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Calvin and hosts of others — there is reason to think that it is very much the minority view among contemporary theologians and philosophers of religion.” Maybe you’ve been interacting with the views of the latter rather than the former.
You asked “Wouldn’t anything related to foreordination involve a past for God?” Interesting question. As I stated in an earlier post, I believe “that time was never created (any more than were the moral law and the laws of logic) but has always been part of God’s orderly nature. Time is what gives events their sequence, their order.” So I ask a similar question: If time was created, wouldn’t this involve a time before time was created in God’s past? By the way, I believe that what is referred to as “time dialation” would be better labeled as “process dilation” — i.e., just because CLOCKS slow in the presence of gravity, or when traveling at high speeds — doesn’t mean that TIME has slowed down; it means, in my view, that the processes that MARK or MEASURE time slow down. (Perhaps I shouldn’t even use the word “measure,” because I believe time is non-physical — metaphysical, if you will.) I don’t believe God is “in time” or “time-bound” but rather that God does things in order (or sequence) and enables us to do the same.
Regarding C.S. Lewis’s “great unbounded now”, I asked in an earlier post: “If God stands outside of time and sees all of time in His eternal ‘now’/’present’ seeing everything as ‘now’ and nothing as ‘past’ or ‘future’ (untensed view), then (because God sees things as they really are) nothing IS ‘past’ or ‘future’. If so, even our very existence is uncertain, since God would not see our nonexistence as ‘past’ and our existence as ‘present’; rather, He would see both our existence and our nonexistence as ‘now.’ Does God really see our former unregenerate state and our current regenerate state as equally real, equally ‘now’? Does He eternally see our sins in existence (as ‘now’)? When one’s view implies that God can’t tell whether we exist or not, then I think it is fair to say that such a view seriously impugns God’s omniscience.”
* “Perspectives on Election: 5 Views” (Chad Owen Brand, ed.; 2006, B&H Publishing Group) p65
** Helm authored the chapter “The Augustinian-Calvinist View” in “Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views” (James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy eds.; 2001, Intervarsity Press)
*** “Four Views: God and Time” (Gregory E. Ganssle, ed.; 2001, Intervarsity Press) p28
Good points and questions. The “unbounded now” requires abstract thought and a stretch toward something that would never satisfy a more linear and left brain approach. Any question along the lines of “if there is anywhere, anyone, or anything outside of time, what time is it there?” are self defeating.
I was listening to an Apologea Studios Youtube video with Jeff Durbin today and came across a statement he made when witnessing to some young ladies at an abortion rally. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiyHYjFcX50 The time in the video is 28:30 when he makes a statement about God’s law being written on our hearts so that inside each one of us has the ability to “know” what is right and wrong. First of all, I love the work he does in the pro-life movement and I commend him on his efforts. However, I do believe his Calvinistic leanings might get in his way sometimes, as demonstrated with the Mormon community questioning his Calvinism rather than facing the gospel question. But when making this Truth statement about God’s law being written on our hearts, isn’t that a bit of a contradiction according to Calvinism?
What I mean to say is this. God giving us His law by writing it on our hearts, then damning us for not even being able to respond to it before time began, makes about as much sense as going into a foreign country, then posting laws in a language that nobody can understand, and then sentencing those who break that law even though they can’t read or write.
I find it nonsensical that God would “write His laws on our hearts” without us being able to make a choice to follow them or not. According to some Calvinists, the non-elect don’t even have the ability to “want to” seek God. If they don’t have any ability to respond to God’s law, then why bother writing on their hearts? That seems just like your analogy of the leopard being condemned for having spots, when God’s law says if you have spots, then you will be condemned.
Anyhow, I thought the video was a great video overall, but I find that Jeff has a tendency to pander to the people he is witnessing to. He says, “God bless you” a lot, when the people he is trying to reach should not be blessed at all for what they are doing. But I still commend his passion for the lost. Fortunately these ladies on the video didn’t know his Calvinist leanings or they might have told him that they had an abortion because God make them have an abortion. That would end the conversation.
Hi Rich! Many good observations. Leighton is easier to catch on his FB page – Soteriology101 You are correct that it makes more sense to think general revelation, like “the work of the law” written (not the law itself) in their hearts, is for a positive reason. That view seems more honoring to God’s glory, which is more about mercy than judgment.
All I can say is thank you so much, Dr Flowers, for being the voice that you are! I used to be a Calvinist myself, albeit an inconsistent one. Always been taught the Calvinistic understanding of Ephesians 1, Romans 9, etc growing up, but God’s amazing love for me and the whole world has been my anchor in life. Without His great love, this life would be truly without hope… I couldn’t even have the strength to get out of bed in the morning.
My dear little sister, my best friend, unfortunately was a strong Calvinist up until she left the faith 6 months ago. Calvinism had stolen and twisted her understanding of God’s love I’m afraid. We would spend a lot of time discussing these matters of election, love, predestination, and reprobation, but even I was stuck with my Calvinistic lenses on. I’m convinced that God became nothing more than a dictator to her… Things came to a head when she would pray and pray for God to effectually save her friend (who she is now living with as her boyfriend), but there was no change. She cried and cried and I believe she was truly without hope that God actually loved him, since she believed that He would effectually save those He self-sacrificial loves.
I will continue to listen to you, support you, and help spread the word! God Bless you, sir, I mean that.
Welcome Ben. Thank you for your encouraging words. I will make sure Leighton sees them. And I will pray for your sister this morning. God wants her and her boyfriend to come to the assurance of His love through His Word!
Hi, I just wanted to ask Dr.Flowers if he could do a show about the differences between the traditional view and the Armenian view and if he could do a show discussing the traditional view and and babies as far as what or when a child actually is accountable for sin and what happens when they die. I love the show but it would be good to hear shows from time to time actually explaining how a non calvanist views these and other issues. I think this would be especially helpful for people who are leaving the calvanist view point. i do not know any other way to contact Dr.Flowers so I hope this comment will reach him.
Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Rom 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
I recently found and am really enjoying your podcast and finding much of the content to be pointed and gently spoken in love at the same time. Thank you so much. Upon scrolling upon scrolling through your many episodes, I found so much time dedicated to the topic of predestination vs free will and the permanence of salvation but I am unable to find anything focusing on the theories of atonement. Recently I have been in discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses and I have had to process why I do not believe that Jesus’ death is merely representational but substitutionary. Do you have anything on this, and if not, could you spend some time on this niche of Soteriology?
Hi Troy and thank you for your kind words!
Due to many responsibilities Dr. Flowers is not regularly here at this blog site.
However you may find him on FaceBook.
If you are a FB user – I urge you to look for him there.