I have tried to understand time and eternity for the past 30+ years, and I think I understand less now than I did when I started. I have no idea what time is, and I certainly do not know what eternity is. As one who cut his theological eye teeth on both Robert W. Jenson, I am open to the assertion that time, in some sense, is a manifestation of God. But I honestly do not understand these matters. Here are my ignorant musings:
All Christian reflection on time and eternity must respect, in my judgment, two theological commitments: (1) God created the world out of nothing. (2) The biblical story of salvation is the story of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and this story is truly the story of God.
The first commitment means that we simply cannot, willy nilly, project onto deity our temporal/spatial experience of the world The second commitment means that we cannot know deity by abstraction from the history of God with us in Jesus of Nazareth. God was born into the world. He breathed and ate and walked and slept. He died an agonizing death in Jerusalem. On Easter morning he rose into a glorified corporeal existence. For all eternity God is the man Jesus Christ. Scripture simply does not allow us to think of time as irrelevant to the divine eternity, nor does it allow us to think of eternity as the nullification of time. In the Incarnation, death, and resurrection of the eternal Logos, time has been redeemed and transformed.
How we hold both of these commitments together is anybody's guess. It's all speculation. The Church has not dogmatized a specific construal of time and eternity. Byzantine theologians speculate, Oriental Orthodox theologians speculate, Catholic theologians speculate, Protestant theologians speculate. We all speculate. Do we know what we are talking about? I seriously doubt it.
The one aspect about the Palamite approach to deity that I appreciate is the insistence that divine revelation must be allowed to form, and correct, our understanding of the divine being. This insistence is not peculiar to Eastern theology. One finds it in various Western theologians--Karl Barth, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Thomas F. Torrance, Robert Jenson, and Hans Urs von Balthasar immediately come to mind. I am therefore intrigued by the suggestion that time is a divine energy or procession, but I have yet to see it unpacked in a way that I find comprehensible and convincing. David Bradshaw's essay, cited above, is a good beginning but only a beginning. I am intrigued.
Part of the problem for me, of course, is trying to grasp the real significance of the essence/energies distinction. What is the real point of this distinction? What problem does it seek to solve? St Gregory Palamas's concern seems clear: he wanted to emphatically insist that the believer truly and fully experiences and participates in the divine life of the Holy Trinity yet without compromising the integrity of creaturehood. Participation in the divine essence is impossible, says Gregory, because such participation could only mean absorption into deity and the multiplication of divine hypostases. The essence/energies distinction seems to well address Gregory's concern: God is both participle and imparticiple. God is both knowable and unknowable. In the words of Fr John Meyendorff: "The distinction between 'essence' and 'energy'--that focal point of Palamite theology--is nothing but a way of saying that the transcendent God remains transcendent, as He also communicates Himself to humanity."
But this distinction becomes problematic if it is construed as a separation between the essence and energies. At this point we need to return to St Athanasius and remember the orthodox concerns that drove the fourth century debates on the Holy Trinity. Specifically, we need to remember the confession of the Council of Nicaea: Jesus Christ, the council declared, is homoousios (of one being) with the Father. By this confession the Church insisted that in Jesus of Nazareth the eternal God has truly, definitively, irrevocably, absolutely communicated himself to mankind. There is no other God lurking behind the back of the Crucified. He who has seen Jesus has seen the Father. The economic Trinity is identical to the eternal and immanent Trinity. God's being and act are one and indivisible. The story of Jesus in Israel is the story of God. If we find that we must assert an ineffable distinction between the divine essence and energies, we must do so therefore in a way that does not compromise the Trinitarian economy of salvation.