eternity not a contradiction of time


HAUERWAS* on Jenson, forgiveness and time:

“God’s eternity, as Robert Jenson maintains, is not the simple contradiction of time:

The biblical God’s eternity is his temporal infinity. What he transcends is not having of beginnings and goals and reconciliations, but any personal limitations in having them. What he transcends is any limit imposed on what can be by what has been, except the limit of his personal self-identity, and any limit imposed on his action by the availability of time. The true God is not eternal because he lacks time, but because he takes time. […] The eternity of Israel’s God is his faithfulness. He is not eternal in that he secures himself from time, but in that he is faithful to his commitments within time. At the great turning, Israel’s God is eternal in that he is faithful to the death, and then yet again faithful. God’s eternity is temporal infinity. [Systematic Theology, 1997]

This is but a way to say that God makes possible all the time in the world to make our time, our memories, redeemed. Our time can be redeemed because time has been redeemed by Christ. That is why we do not need to deny our memories, shaped as they are by sin, but why we can trust memories to be transformed by forgiveness and reconciliation. Christian forgiveness is not that our sins no longer matter but that our sins are now made part of an economy of salvation for the constitution of a new community otherwise impossible.”

*Stanley Hauerwas, ”Why time cannot and should not heal the wounds of history, but time has been and can be redeemed” in A Better Hope (Brazos, 2000).


2 Responses to “eternity not a contradiction of time”

  1. “The true God is not eternal because he lacks time, but because he takes time.” WOW. That is so. right. on.

  2. thanks for this James – redeeming time is a great reflection