Attributes of God: God as Eternal

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  • Created by: Annie C-H
  • Created on: 28-05-14 17:57

Our understanding of God as eternal is important, as it also affects our understanding of the other attributes of God. Can god know with certainty the details of events that have not yet come to pass (omnsicience). Can God undo events and change the past, or is it beyond God's power (omnipotence).
The relationship of God and time also raises issues about prayer. If God is unchanging (immutable) and knows with perfect certainity what is going to happen, is there any point praying, excpet for the psychological benefit. However if prayer can change God's mind and create a different course of events, is God really a perfect being? As God certainly couldn't be called immutable. 
Biblical teachings about God as immutable:
      Psalm 102: "but you are the same, and your years will not come to an end"
      Malachi : "for I, the LORD, do not change" 

 God's eternal nature is understood in three different ways,

  • God as timeless (God is outside time and is not bound by time) God is described as atemporal.
  • God as everlasting (God moves through time just like we do, but has no beginning or ending) God is described as sempiternal.
  • Process Theology (God moves through time with us, and changes).

God as Timeless (Atemporal) 

This view has been held by Anselm, Augustine, Boehius, Aquinas and Schleiermacher. It is the idea that God is outside time, and can see the past, present and future simultaneously and with perfect knowledge. This idea has been compared to a birdseye view of a highway or road, where you can see the beginning, end and middle all at once. This analogy was suggested by Aquinas when he wrote 'He who sees the whole road from a height sees at once all those travelling on it'.
Time is an aspect of the created world and thus God is in control of

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