Apologetics Thursday – Eternal v Everlasting

Wayne Jackson of Christian Courier writes:

Try to fathom this statement from John Sanders, one of the leading advocates of the New Theism: “God is everlasting through time rather than timelessly eternal” (http://www.opentheism.info/). If this statement does not conflict with the biblical doctrine of the eternality of God (cf. Psalm 90:2), I would not know what to make of it. In the same article Sanders says, “[T]he future is not entirely knowable, even for God” (emphasis added).

Jackson is confusing the meaning of the terms offered by John Sanders. Sanders is using “eternal” as a synonym with “timeless”. Modern Biblical translations might use the word “eternal”, but the authors definitely did not think God is “timeless”. Looking at Jackson’s prooftext:

Psa 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Notice the timeframes, God was from everlasting and will be to everlasting. This is not a “timeless” concept, but suggest God is everlasting in time. If the plain reading was not enough, the “Prayer of Moses” continues:

Psa 90:4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.

The author of this psalm definitely believed God was in time and experienced duration. Maybe Sanders is too generous to grant that the term “eternal” will be used in conversation to be synonymous with “timeless”. His generosity confuses people like Jackson who fall for the old Equivocation Fallacy.

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