Did Jesus die for our sins before the foundation of the world?

Monday Musings for April 13, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

As the Bible changes narrators, it changes frames of reference. This may sound like a basic reading rule to some of you, but readers often fail to make the appropriate adjustments. The thing is, the Bible is “God’s word”… so at the top level, God is always “in charge” of the written narration. But only rarely is he the narrator. When he is, it is wonderful! And when he is, people can get the wrong idea about when he is acting in time.

You see — ontologically speaking — God transcends time. But being God, he can still engage with his creation... and he can do so without abdicating his transcendence. But note this well: when God engages in time, he does so as an omnitemporal being. He is no slave to time. Rather, he is the Master of it.

This is why whenever God is the narrator we must ask, where is his voice coming from? Is it like the time he spoke to Moses at the burning bush? Is it like that still small voice that Elijah heard outside the cave? Is it like God speaking to the young boy Samuel from inside the house of the Lord? Or is it coming from the heavens — outside of time — as it often does in apocalyptical passages?

Philosophers note that our “experience of being” is one of “temporal becoming.” That is, we are always traveling to the next moment. So, what we experience as “now” moves instantly into the past — and the future is always in front of us! As such, we are orphans when it comes to time... orphans who are never really placed in a permanent home.

But this is not true of God. As our transcendent God, he stands outside of time. But as our immanent God, he can experience linear moments as we do — or he can experience every moment at the same moment! Omnitemporality, it seems, has its privileges.

So here we are — a century after Einstein — and still not used to the terminology that makes the best sense of God’s creation. We used to say that we existed in space and time. But today, we should use the term “spacetime” instead. Where Newton was okay using X, Y and Z coordinates to describe our position in physical space, Einstein showed us why that was not enough information. We need to add a “when” to the “where” to truly describe where we are.

Think of your location as if it were an appointment: an appointment is always at a certain place — that’s true — but also at a certain time. That’s one of the implications of relativity. Our location is both the place and time of where we are. Therefore, our location is new every moment. This is a strange concept since our “temporal becoming” feels like our normal static lives.

God’s omnitemporality is a logical consequence of his omnipresence. Being every-where at the same time involves being every-when at the same time — and this is an astounding thing to consider! Ontologically, no time passes for God. Every moment — in or out of creation — is the same moment to God.

My point today is that we are so used to the mundane — to living our lives in linear time — that when we hear the voice of God in his word, we assume that he’s traveling on the same track as us. Sometimes he is, but that’s not always the case... and this can cause problems when we try to assign times to certain actions of God. We will unscramble some of those difficulties today.

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