Friday, September 28, 2012

Time and Beyond Time—Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis writes, "In the last chapter  I had to touch on the subject of prayer, and while that is still fresh in ... mind, I should like to deal with a difficulty that some people find about the whole idea of prayer. A man put it to me by saying, 'I can believe in God ... but what I cannot swallow is the idea of Him attending to several hundred million human beings who are all addressing Him at the same moment'.... The whole sting of it comes in the words at the same moment.... We tend to assume that the whole universe and God Himself are always moving on from past to future just as we do. But many learned men do not agree with that. It was the theologians who first started the idea that some things are not in Time at all: later the philosophers took it over, and now some of the scientists are doing the same.... If a million people are praying to [God] at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirtyand every other moment from the beginning of the worldis always the Present for Him."

"Suppose I am writing a novel. I write 'Mary laid down her work; next moment came a knock at the door!' For Mary, who has to live in the imaginary time of my story, there is no interval between putting down the work and hearing the knock. But I, who am Mary's maker, do not live in that imaginary time at all.... I could think about Mary as if she were the only character in the book and for as long as I pleased, and the hours I spent in doing so would not appear in Mary's time ... at all.... God is not hurried along in the Time-stream of this universe....He has infinite attention to spare for each one of us."

"If you picture Time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn .... God, from above or outside or all round, contains the whole line and sees it all. The idea is worth trying to grasp because it removes some apparent difficulties in Christianity.... You cannot fit Christ's earthly life in Palestine into any time-relations with His life as God beyond all space and time. It is really, I suggest, a timeless truth about God that human nature, and the human experience of weakness and sleep and ignorance, are somehow included in His whole divine life.... God has no history. He is too completely and utterly real to have one.... To have a history means losing part of your reality (because it has already slipped away...)."

"If [God] knows I am going to do so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise?... All the days are 'Now' for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them.... You  never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow's actions in just the same waybecause He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you."
Highlights from Chapter 3: Time and Beyond Time from Book 4: Beyond Personality, or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Click here for a clear view of how this chapter relates to the whole book.

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