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Critically assess the traditional Christian Concept of God being eternal.

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Introduction

´╗┐Critically assess the traditional Christian Concept of God being eternal. (35) The traditional Christian concept of God?s eternity has been highly influenced by the early philosophy of Plato and his concept of the unchanging reality of the world of the Forms, and more modern philosophy of Boethius. It is argued however that the concept of God?s eternity has not only appealed to people because of the influence of early Greek philosophy, but instead Wolterstoff has suggested it appeals to people because the eternal God is different from human experience of life in the physical world. He continues, in this world the idea of God being different and always existing, as it says in the Bible, leads to philosophical understanding of God?s nature as eternal and makes believers? conviction that God is eternal more understandable. The Judaeo-Christian concept of God being eternal can refer to God being timeless (existing outside of time) or God being everlasting (having no beginning and no end, but time does pass for him). The Bible supports this view that God has always existed and will never cease to exist it is written ?I the Lord do not change.? The classical ...read more.

Middle

For Boethius God doesn?t see the future as it happens, instead Boethius argues all time is present to God ?simultaneously?. Christians base their understanding of God being eternal on the ideas of Boethius. However this concept is criticised by Anthony Kenny, among others, who argued that the notion of all time being simultaneously present to God is incoherent. He argues that saying all time is simultaneously present to God means that all time is happening at the same moment and this appears to be incoherent. Kenny?s argument against the traditional Christian idea of God being eternal is coherent and could further suggest that the whole Christian idea of God being eternal is very flawed. Swinburne supports the criticism posed by Kenny stating that he could not ?make much sense? of talk of all events being simultaneously present to God. Paul Helm however suggests talk of God being eternal does not involve the ?reductio ad absurdum? suggested by Kenny and Swinburne; he argues that the eternal God is timeless and acts eternally. Thus it can be understood that the traditional Christian concept of God being eternal is coherent because Helm says God ?timeless in the sense if being time free?. ...read more.

Conclusion

This appears to deal with the problem of God not responding to prayers. However philosophers still bring up the problem of evil, if God sees everything simultaneously surely he can eradicate those who do evil things. On the other hand Wiles argues that the universe is part of God?s ongoing creative activity thus He is always acting, and there is no selective response by God. Others claim God is in time and can act and respond to prayers. A possible solution to the problems raised by the traditional Christian concept of God being eternal is to suggest that God is not timeless, but instead he is everlasting. Everlasting meaning that God always exists and will without end, however time does pass for God. This is perhaps more coherent as this would allow God to act in time and He would not be so restricted. Also it fits more appropriately with God, as revealed in the Bible. The traditional concept of God being eternal has many criticisms, but it can still be concluded that God is eternal but is not the eternal God described by Boethius and Aquinas. Instead God is everlasting, and this way of thinking of God satisfies our understanding of God from the Bible. ...read more.

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