Author Topic: Is God outside of time?  (Read 1841 times)

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Offline Super Apostolic Bros.

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Is God outside of time?
« on: October 28, 2009, 02:53:17 PM »
I've often heard the claim that God exists outside of time, but can't think of any Biblical verse to back this up. Being eternal both backwards and forwards may give credence to this idea, but I don't think it's a slam dunk.

If God is "outside of time," the implications are staggering...

Offline Papist

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2009, 02:56:59 PM »
I've often heard the claim that God exists outside of time, but can't think of any Biblical verse to back this up. Being eternal both backwards and forwards may give credence to this idea, but I don't think it's a slam dunk.

If God is "outside of time," the implications are staggering...
While the bible says that God is unchaning, because he is perfect, and time is nothing more than the measure of change. It seems like the conclusion is that he would have to be outside of time.
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Offline stanley123

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2009, 03:14:10 PM »
I've often heard the claim that God exists outside of time, but can't think of any Biblical verse to back this up. Being eternal both backwards and forwards may give credence to this idea, but I don't think it's a slam dunk.

If God is "outside of time," the implications are staggering...
While the bible says that God is unchaning, because he is perfect, and time is nothing more than the measure of change. It seems like the conclusion is that he would have to be outside of time.
Yes. As God is the perfect Being, He would be outside of time. But what is difficult to understand, is how the life of Jesus, who was God, did proceed within time.

Offline Entscheidungsproblem

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2009, 03:18:15 PM »
One way you could think of it is by looking at the Universe.  Do you believe the Universe had a beginning?  If yes, do you believe God existed prior to its creation?  If yes, then since "time" started at the beginning of the Universe, God would of had to exist outside of time.
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Offline Jetavan

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2009, 04:10:45 PM »
One way you could think of it is by looking at the Universe.  Do you believe the Universe had a beginning?  If yes, do you believe God existed prior to its creation?  If yes, then since "time" started at the beginning of the Universe, God would of had to exist outside of time.
What if the universe didn't have a beginning?
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Offline Papist

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2009, 04:20:26 PM »
One way you could think of it is by looking at the Universe.  Do you believe the Universe had a beginning?  If yes, do you believe God existed prior to its creation?  If yes, then since "time" started at the beginning of the Universe, God would of had to exist outside of time.
What if the universe didn't have a beginning?
I can not see there not being a begining to the universe. How can there be an infinite number of years if this moment is the end of the series of years that leads to this moment. Then you would have an infinite series with an end which is silly.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 04:22:16 PM by Papist »
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2009, 04:21:26 PM »
There are always these passages:

"For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." - Ps. 90:4

"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." - 2 Pet. 3:8

On the one hand, you could argue that these passages are a way of saying that God does not experience time like we do, and even perhaps is outside of time. On the other hand, these passages, taken literally, would seem to indicate that God experiences time in some fashion. So... this probably didn't help much, but there the passages are for whatever they're worth.

Offline ignatius

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2009, 04:21:50 PM »
One way you could think of it is by looking at the Universe.  Do you believe the Universe had a beginning?  If yes, do you believe God existed prior to its creation?  If yes, then since "time" started at the beginning of the Universe, God would of had to exist outside of time.
What if the universe didn't have a beginning?

Then it wouldn't have had a 'Creator' and we as Christians are at most to be pitied... at least to be thought ignorant.
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Offline Entscheidungsproblem

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2009, 06:37:25 PM »
What if the universe didn't have a beginning?

Then you are probably over here with me, thinking that a Turok/Steinhardt cyclical model might be how everything works.  One can always make the whole relative/absolute time distinction, which does occur in our anthropocentric world now (time meaning "our time", measured from the inception of this latest creation of matter and radiation after a Big Crunch) and most certainly did in the past as well (eternal and perfect nature of the cosmos, etc).
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Offline stanley123

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2009, 06:58:22 PM »
One way you could think of it is by looking at the Universe.  Do you believe the Universe had a beginning?  If yes, do you believe God existed prior to its creation?  If yes, then since "time" started at the beginning of the Universe, God would of had to exist outside of time.
What if the universe didn't have a beginning?

Then it wouldn't have had a 'Creator' and we as Christians are at most to be pitied... at least to be thought ignorant.
I am not sure about this. I don't say it happened this way, but would it be conceivable for God to create the universe (or the multiverse) outside of time, so that in time, the universe (or multiverse) did not have a temporal beginning or end?

Offline bogdan

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2009, 08:46:18 PM »
I don't know if this helps, but in my catechumen class, my priest explained it this way:

Time (or Space-Time) has a definite beginning and a definite end. It is our realm, where the universe and all matter exists. Time allows movement, so things can change. Within time, we are trapped within the Present moment - the Future is unknown and the Past is fixed. God must be outside it because he created it, or rather, it exists within him. It can be diagrammed this way:
x-------------x

Then there is Eternity (which is a created realm, just like Time), where the angels and departed souls live. It has a beginning but no end. Since there is no time, there is no movement, and therefore no change (an angel's allegiance to God is fixed and cannot waver, for instance).
x------------->

The third realm is Ever-Existing, which is the realm of God's essence. It has no beginning or end. It is uncreated, motionless, and changeless. (This is what we mean by "Ages of Ages", or in the Western Rite, "World Without End".)
<------------->
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 08:52:06 PM by bogdan »

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2009, 08:49:50 PM »
Time (or Space-Time) has a definite beginning and a definite end. It is our realm, where the universe and all matter exists. God must be outside it because he created it, or rather, it exists within him. It can be diagrammed this way:
x-------------x

Then there is Eternity (which is a created realm, just like Time), where the angels and departed souls live. It has a beginning but no end. Since there is no time, there is no movement, and therefore no change (an angel's allegiance to God is fixed and cannot waver, for instance).
x------------->

The third realm is Ever-Existing, which is the realm of God's essence. It has no beginning or end. It is uncreated, motionless, and changeless. (This is what we mean by "Ages of Ages", or in the Western Rite, "World Without End".)
<------------->

This is certainly interesting.  However, I don't know if any of this is scientifically verifiable.

I tend to think of time as a human construct without really considering the theological implications of that position.

Offline bogdan

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2009, 08:55:15 PM »
Time (or Space-Time) has a definite beginning and a definite end. It is our realm, where the universe and all matter exists. God must be outside it because he created it, or rather, it exists within him. It can be diagrammed this way:
x-------------x

Then there is Eternity (which is a created realm, just like Time), where the angels and departed souls live. It has a beginning but no end. Since there is no time, there is no movement, and therefore no change (an angel's allegiance to God is fixed and cannot waver, for instance).
x------------->

The third realm is Ever-Existing, which is the realm of God's essence. It has no beginning or end. It is uncreated, motionless, and changeless. (This is what we mean by "Ages of Ages", or in the Western Rite, "World Without End".)
<------------->

This is certainly interesting.  However, I don't know if any of this is scientifically verifiable.

I tend to think of time as a human construct without really considering the theological implications of that position.

That's true. Eternity and Ever-Existing can't possibly be observed or studied scientifically since they are beyond the material realm. The most you could say for it from that angle is that it's a theory - an explanation that fits the data we have (though many scientists would scoff at using Holy Tradition as a source for data about such things).

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2009, 09:06:46 PM »
Quote
Then there is Eternity (which is a created realm, just like Time), where the angels and departed souls live. It has a beginning but no end. Since there is no time, there is no movement, and therefore no change (an angel's allegiance to God is fixed and cannot waver, for instance).
x------------->

So, in your view, were the (now) fallen angels in time when they rebelled (allowing them to change), or did God create them in a state of rebelliousness?

Offline bogdan

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2009, 09:13:00 PM »
Quote
Then there is Eternity (which is a created realm, just like Time), where the angels and departed souls live. It has a beginning but no end. Since there is no time, there is no movement, and therefore no change (an angel's allegiance to God is fixed and cannot waver, for instance).
x------------->

So, in your view, were the (now) fallen angels in time when they rebelled (allowing them to change), or did God create them in a state of rebelliousness?

My priest said that their identities were fixed at the moment of their creation. The ones who worshiped God's glory are angels, and the ones who looked upon their own glory are fallen angels. (Lucifer, being the most glorious of all the angels, swelled with pride the most of all.)

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2009, 11:24:41 PM »
The most you could say for it from that angle is that it's a theory - an explanation that fits the data we have (though many scientists would scoff at using Holy Tradition as a source for data about such things).

I think you meant to say a hypothesis.  Theorems and theories are quite advanced and rigorously tested.

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2009, 12:55:09 AM »
Retroactive prayer just isn't as cool a concept when you know the results already  :P

Ah, I see.

I just clicked on related threads to another prayer thread and said I'd pray. 

Perhaps God foresaw my future prayer and acted on it.   ;)




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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2009, 01:21:23 AM »
Retroactive prayer just isn't as cool a concept when you know the results already  :P

Ah, I see.

I just clicked on related threads to another prayer thread and said I'd pray. 

Perhaps God foresaw my future prayer and acted on it.   ;)




So, Isa, what's your point in merely quoting a post from another thread without posting any additional words of your own?
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2009, 08:36:51 AM »
Time (or Space-Time) has a definite beginning and a definite end. It is our realm, where the universe and all matter exists. God must be outside it because he created it, or rather, it exists within him. It can be diagrammed this way:
x-------------x

Then there is Eternity (which is a created realm, just like Time), where the angels and departed souls live. It has a beginning but no end. Since there is no time, there is no movement, and therefore no change (an angel's allegiance to God is fixed and cannot waver, for instance).
x------------->

The third realm is Ever-Existing, which is the realm of God's essence. It has no beginning or end. It is uncreated, motionless, and changeless. (This is what we mean by "Ages of Ages", or in the Western Rite, "World Without End".)
<------------->

This is certainly interesting.  However, I don't know if any of this is scientifically verifiable.

I tend to think of time as a human construct without really considering the theological implications of that position.
That's about where I am on this issue. I hear kids often say things like, "We've always had the Internet," simply because it's older than they are (although the idea of the Internet being older than anything is disturbing to me :)). I think our idea of God is similar. We don't understand his eternal nature because He was already here when we were created. So we have a hard time describing His relationship with time, or even if He has one, because we do not have the experience to describe it. We simply can't know.
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2009, 08:46:44 AM »
Retroactive prayer just isn't as cool a concept when you know the results already  :P

Ah, I see.

I just clicked on related threads to another prayer thread and said I'd pray. 

Perhaps God foresaw my future prayer and acted on it.   ;)




So, Isa, what's your point in merely quoting a post from another thread without posting any additional words of your own?

Concrete example rather than theory.
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Offline Father H

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2009, 09:56:21 AM »
"Before Abraham was, I am"   It is the eternal present.   Rather than say "outside of time" we would say unbounded by time or space, since, indeed, the Lord reaches into time and space to give grace to His creation. 

Offline NorthernPines

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2009, 10:46:46 AM »
One way you could think of it is by looking at the Universe.  Do you believe the Universe had a beginning?  If yes, do you believe God existed prior to its creation?  If yes, then since "time" started at the beginning of the Universe, God would of had to exist outside of time.
What if the universe didn't have a beginning?

If the Universe did not have a beginning, then as far as I can understand God wouldn't be, well God. He would be a mighty, powerful "being" within the Universe....he might seem like a deity to us, and in fact may exhibit powers that we would presume to be "divine", but he would be more along the lines of the "Ascended beings" in the TV show Stargate SG1, (or the Ori), or perhaps a closer SciFi parallel would be Q on Star Trek. But He still would not truly be God, no matter what He claimed. (even Q once explained that despite what the Q Continuum claimed, they had NOT always existed) If in fact the Universe always existed, then the Universe gave rise to God, not the other way around. He'd only be some creature in the Universe who after billions of years figured a whole bunch of stuff out...but really not it's creator, and thus our religion would be total bunk. (well, maybe not "total" bunk, because it might still be good to follow the teachings of some being who had been around for 10 billion years who then became one of us....but should we "worship" it? I don't think worshiping an alien no matter how advanced would be proper. respect, follow teachings, even live as He taught, maybe even preach His message, but worship?

Unless you mean to imply  that if the Universe always existed, and that the Universe is merely an extension of it's Creator God....then I suppose there might be some wiggle room there, but if you mean the Universe predated God, then God isn't God at all, no matter how "powerful" He is. That's just my take though, thoroughly enlighted by Star Trek! :)

Offline NorthernPines

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2009, 10:55:51 AM »



My priest said that their identities were fixed at the moment of their creation. The ones who worshiped God's glory are angels, and the ones who looked upon their own glory are fallen angels. (Lucifer, being the most glorious of all the angels, swelled with pride the most of all.)

I have a serious problem understanding what your priest said. The way you explained this, sounds awfully Calvinistic to me. Lucifer's identity was fixed at his creation? Does anyone know if that is really the Orthodox POV because I've never heard that. (btw I'm not doubting your priest, I just have never heard that before)


« Last Edit: October 29, 2009, 10:56:06 AM by NorthernPines »

Offline Father H

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2009, 01:03:18 PM »

My priest said that their identities were fixed at the moment of their creation. The ones who worshiped God's glory are angels, and the ones who looked upon their own glory are fallen angels. (Lucifer, being the most glorious of all the angels, swelled with pride the most of all.)

I have a serious problem understanding what your priest said. The way you explained this, sounds awfully Calvinistic to me. Lucifer's identity was fixed at his creation? Does anyone know if that is really the Orthodox POV because I've never heard that. (btw I'm not doubting your priest, I just have never heard that before)

Right, sounds pretty scary to me.   Perhaps it is being misstated or was misunderstood?   Orthodox doctrine teaches that angels were created free rational noetic beings, and that some sinned; they were not "fixed" to sin. 

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2009, 01:30:20 PM »
One way you could think of it is by looking at the Universe.  Do you believe the Universe had a beginning?  If yes, do you believe God existed prior to its creation?  If yes, then since "time" started at the beginning of the Universe, God would of had to exist outside of time.
What if the universe didn't have a beginning?

If the Universe did not have a beginning, then as far as I can understand God wouldn't be, well God. He would be a mighty, powerful "being" within the Universe....

Unless you mean to imply  that if the Universe always existed, and that the Universe is merely an extension of it's Creator God....then I suppose there might be some wiggle room there, but if you mean the Universe predated God, then God isn't God at all, no matter how "powerful" He is. That's just my take though, thoroughly enlighted by Star Trek! :)
If God has always existed, perhaps God has always been creating a universe or several universes? That might make the universe (or the total set of universes) always existent.
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Offline witega

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #25 on: October 29, 2009, 01:39:10 PM »

My priest said that their identities were fixed at the moment of their creation. The ones who worshiped God's glory are angels, and the ones who looked upon their own glory are fallen angels. (Lucifer, being the most glorious of all the angels, swelled with pride the most of all.)

I have a serious problem understanding what your priest said. The way you explained this, sounds awfully Calvinistic to me. Lucifer's identity was fixed at his creation? Does anyone know if that is really the Orthodox POV because I've never heard that. (btw I'm not doubting your priest, I just have never heard that before)

Right, sounds pretty scary to me.   Perhaps it is being misstated or was misunderstood?   Orthodox doctrine teaches that angels were created free rational noetic beings, and that some sinned; they were not "fixed" to sin. 

It sounds to me like the priest is actually operating in the same conceptual space but that a step was 'missed' (either by the priest or by the listener). As I understand it, the idea is that the angels were created free, rational, noetic beings. As such, they had a choice whether to serve or rebel. However, they made that decision at the point of their creation, and because of the nature of their existence (either as purely spiritual beings or in the realm of eternity described in Bogdan's post or both) they can never change/repent that decision. So in the moment of their creation, they made an individual choice, and fixed *themselves* in one orientation or the other for eternity.

I'm not sure what the authority behind that understanding is, and personally it seems a rather cludgy attempt to explain things, but it seems to be widespread Orthodox understanding of the 'sequence' of events.
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Offline bogdan

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #26 on: October 29, 2009, 07:57:20 PM »
(see next post)
« Last Edit: October 29, 2009, 08:01:35 PM by bogdan »

Offline bogdan

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #27 on: October 29, 2009, 08:01:06 PM »

My priest said that their identities were fixed at the moment of their creation. The ones who worshiped God's glory are angels, and the ones who looked upon their own glory are fallen angels. (Lucifer, being the most glorious of all the angels, swelled with pride the most of all.)

I have a serious problem understanding what your priest said. The way you explained this, sounds awfully Calvinistic to me. Lucifer's identity was fixed at his creation? Does anyone know if that is really the Orthodox POV because I've never heard that. (btw I'm not doubting your priest, I just have never heard that before)

Right, sounds pretty scary to me.   Perhaps it is being misstated or was misunderstood?   Orthodox doctrine teaches that angels were created free rational noetic beings, and that some sinned; they were not "fixed" to sin. 

It sounds to me like the priest is actually operating in the same conceptual space but that a step was 'missed' (either by the priest or by the listener). As I understand it, the idea is that the angels were created free, rational, noetic beings. As such, they had a choice whether to serve or rebel. However, they made that decision at the point of their creation, and because of the nature of their existence (either as purely spiritual beings or in the realm of eternity described in Bogdan's post or both) they can never change/repent that decision. So in the moment of their creation, they made an individual choice, and fixed *themselves* in one orientation or the other for eternity.

I'm not sure what the authority behind that understanding is, and personally it seems a rather cludgy attempt to explain things, but it seems to be widespread Orthodox understanding of the 'sequence' of events.

That's what I was trying to get at, I didn't explain it correctly.  Thanks witega.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2009, 08:02:02 PM by bogdan »

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2009, 09:03:57 PM »
God is the Lord of time. Let us leave the rest of the matter for the Scholastics. ;)

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Re: Is God outside of time?
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2009, 12:46:15 AM »
Retroactive prayer just isn't as cool a concept when you know the results already  :P

Ah, I see.

I just clicked on related threads to another prayer thread and said I'd pray. 

Perhaps God foresaw my future prayer and acted on it.   ;)




So, Isa, what's your point in merely quoting a post from another thread without posting any additional words of your own?

Concrete example rather than theory.
But the concrete example doesn't work without a proper explanation. ;)
Not all who wander are lost.