eternity

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated.See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

eternity [eeuwigheid] I, 30 (Eternity set in the heart of man)
II, 493NC I, 31 fn1 (eternity set in the heart), 106
NC II, 561
lex aeterna I, 57, 77

The supratemporal is that which is above cosmic time.

 The supratemporal can therefore be contrasted with the temporal.

The supratemporal includes the eternity of God and the aevum of created beings like humans who have a supratemporal center. For humans, the aevum is the realm of the supratemporal heart.

Human supratemporality, or the aevum, is distinct from the eternity of God.

Both Baader and Dooyeweerd reject the idea of supratemporality and eternity as being rigid, static and unchanging. This is a Greek view of eternity. Dooyeweerd says,

This, however, is not to say that the religious centre of human existence is found in a rigid and static immobility. That is a metaphysical-Greek idea of supra-temporality. (NC I, 31 fn1.)

We cannot ascribe even to God any such Greek-metaphysical sense of supratemporality (NC I, 106).

In the perspectival horizon of our experience, the transcendent light of eternity must force its way through time.

All human experience remains bound to a perspective horizon in which the transcendent light of eternity must force its way through time. In this horizon we become aware of the transcendent fulness of the meaning of this life only in the light of the Divine revelation refracted through the prism of time (NC II, 561).

Baader’s idea of the supratemporal is also opposed to the Greek static view:

Irriger Weise hat man also bisher die Ewigkeit als eine unbewegliche und starre Gegenwart vorgestellt, indem man nicht einsah, dass in dieser Gegenwart die zwei anderen Zeiten, die Vergangenheit und die Zukunft, mit einbegriffen werden müssen…(Zeit, 21).

[Eternity has previously been mistakenly represented as an unmoving and static present; this mistake was because it was not seen that this present must also include two other times, the past and the future]

If God is not to be viewed in terms of such a static eternity, then this implies that there is a dynamism even within God. A fuller explanation of this dynamism is to be found in Baader’s ideas of time and the supratemporal. Baader says that within God there is a dynamism, and a generation of the persons of the Trinity. Baader’s ideas anticipate process theology: he says that God is an eternally proceeding Process (Werke 2,21; Sauer 91). But God does not require the temporal world for his own fulfillment. That would be a pantheism, as in Schelling.

Baader says that the static view of eternity is a mistake caused by our abstraction, which views rest (Ruhe) as static and lifeless (Elementarbegriffe 535). Rather, eternity should be seen as always resting in its movement and always moving in its Rest, as always new and always the same. He cites St. Martin

In der göttlichen Region ist die Hervorbringung immer gewesen, die Erhaltung ist immer, und die Widereinung (Reintegration) wird immer sein.

[In the divine region, the generation has always been, the preservation is always, and the reunification (reintegration) will always be].

This dynamic view of eternity is also found in maximus the Confessor, who speaks of “ever-moving rest and steadfast movement at the same time” Quaestiones ad Thalassium 65; Mystagogia 5, 19 (cited in Hans Urs von Balthasar: Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003).

Baader says that the supratemporal and the eternal include the past, present and the future. It is not a concept of the Greek static now.

This idea of a dynamic eternal is related to Baader’s view of the Trinity. There is a movement out of and back from the fixed to the flowing, from the Center to the Periphery or Nature even in God. Baader emphasizes the importance of the Trinity as the dynamic basis for both our being and our knowing. The Trinity is determined by four moments. In the first three moments, the Godhead begets and emanates the Father, Son and the Spirit. The fourth moment is the Idea (‘Gedanke’) or Wisdom (‘Sophia’). Wisdom is not a person, but a receptacle (‘Rezipiens’). This Wisdom completes God’s seeing of Himself (‘Selbstanschauung’). There is an embodiment (‘Leiblichkeit’) of God; the nature in which He dwells, the natura naturans, is His heaven (Werke 2, 530; Betanzos 93; Schumacher, 37).

Oscar Cullman wrote about eternity as extended time. I do not believe that this idea is compatible with Dooyeweerd’s philosophy. Baader denies that eternity is extended time. Eternity is not just infinitely protracted time. Spinoza’s idea of a “temporal eternity” confuses the Creator with the creature in a pantheistic way (Werke I, 538). The supratemporal is the now, the simultaneous Present, nontemporal and permanent (in the sense that once we achieve it, we do not fall back into cosmic time) (Zwiespalt 57).

For Dooyeweerd, the supratemporal does have its own order. There is an eschatological time–that which happens beyond the limits of cosmic time (NC I, 33). This is not a duplication of cosmic time. It is the time of our heart experience, the time of angels, and our future when this earthly “dispensation” is over.

Revised May 6/06; Dec 24/16

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