Sunday, December 31, 2023

Solitude with God as a Cure for Inner Torment


(Train, in Monroe County)

Do not let your hearts be agitated.
You believe in God.
Believe also in me.

Jesus, in John 14:1

I had a friend whose heart and mind were filled with agitation. Like the agitator of a washing machine, his thoughts constantly went back and forth, back and forth. Inwardly he felt tormented, especially when he was alone.

So, he got busy. Busyness, he reasoned, would cover up the restless sea within. 

It didn't work. Like a band aid over an open wound, the pain was still there.

His question became: Who am I, when I have nothing to do? What can calm the surging waves within?

Outer quietude can reveal inner restlessness. Solitude with God is a purging fire that uncovers my true self and what I am defined by. If I am defined by the praises and blame of others, then when those voices are removed, so is my identity. When my "being" is defined by my "doing" or "having," I have gotten life backwards. These false identities keep my heart in constant agitation. They form a false, punishing belief system ("I am what others think of me"; "I am what I have"; "I am what I accomplish.").

Solitude with God is required to purge my heart of false identities and forge my heart's true meaning and purpose. Henri Nouwen writes: "Silence and solitude call me to detach myself from the scaffolding of daily life and to discover if anything there can stand on its own when the traditional support systems have been pulled away." (Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift: A Meditation on Dying and Caring, p. 3)

When the music fades, when all is stripped away, and "I" simply come to God, then it's Him and me here now. Just me and my God, in Whom I trust, Who is my source of life and is my life. 

I have developed the spiritual discipline of getting alone with God. It is my habit, my way of being. I regularly get still, and know God. It is common, during these alone times with God, to have moments of inner turmoil. My prayer then becomes: "Restore my soul, O God, that has been agitated by the false gods of doing, having, and accomplishing."

I write of my experiences of solitude with God in Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.



(I took this photo in Istanbul. The reflection of the man makes it look like he is eyeing the Turkish delight.)

The word "resolution," in music, means "the passing of a voice part from a dissonant to a consonant tone or from dissonance to consonance."  

For example, if a musical piece is in the key of C, G is the 5th. A musical piece that ends on the 5th begs to be resolved to the 1st, or tonic chord, which is in this case C. The unresolved 5th causes one to inwardly strain and lean towards the anticipated 1st.

To "resolve" means: fixity of purpose, resoluteness. For example: His comments were intended to weaken her resolve but they only served to strengthen it. (From here.)

This week I am printing out these four resolutions, which I resolve to live out. I'll carry them with me. I will pray them, often. I want them to get inside me, and become living and active.

1. I Resolve to inquire of the Lord.

2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. (2 Chronicles 20:2-4)

Bring life's dissonance before the Lord. Inquire of God, regarding the chaos and incompleteness. You've tried to figure it out yourself; instead, seek God about this. Not just once in a while, but today, and every day. 

Place your trust in God, now. Get alone with God and receive direction. 

As God called Jehoshaphat to declare a fast in response to unresolved dissonance in Judah, so God has promised to shepherd you through all things. God is willing to direct your paths.

Resolve to inquire of God, today and every day.

2. I Resolve that my mouth will not bring destruction.

2 May my vindication come from you;
may your eyes see what is right. 

3 Though you probe my heart and examine me at night,
though you test me, you will find nothing; 
I have resolved that my mouth will not sin. 4 As for the deeds of men—
by the word of your lips
I have kept myself
from the ways of the violent. 
(Psalm 17:2-4)

I will keep my mouth shut, unless my words serve to build up others.

I will meet, often and alone, with God. I will abide in Christ. I will dwell in his presence. God will shape and form my heart into Christlikeness. (Gal. 4:19) This Jesus-heart will produce what comes out of the space between my lips.

Resolve that your mouth will not destroy, today and every day.

3. I Resolve not to defile my soul with the enemy's "turkish delight."

7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. 
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel... (Daniel 1:7-9)

Daniel refuses to allow King Nebuchadnezzar to redefine his identity. Daniel "resolved"; i.e., Daniel "set upon his heart" not to pollute himself. 

Daniel set his heart not to compromise himself by accepting redefinition as a Babylonian. This is the matter of allegiance.

When Linda and I were in Istanbul, Turkey, we tasted their famous dessert - called "Turkish delight." Turkish delight will be familiar to fans of C.S. Lewis. In Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund meets the White Witch, who seduces him with a delicious piece of candy called "turkish delight." He eats it, betraying Aslan, and his defiled heart falls under the Witch's dark spell.

Today, resolve not to compromise your allegiance to Jesus as your Lord.

4. I Resolve to know Jesus Christ and him crucified.

1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

Learn about Jesus. 

Learn Jesus. 

Fix on him. 

Sum all things up in Jesus.

Resolve to know Christ and him crucified. Today.


My books are...

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Deconstructing Progressive Christianity

31 Letters to the Church on Discipleship

31 Letters to the Church on Praying

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (Co-edited with Janice Trigg)

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Biblical Meditation and Spiritual Transformation

When I pray, I meditate. Here are some thoughts about biblical meditation.

There is a close relationship between biblical meditation and spiritual transformation. God works through meditation to change the human heart. It’s like this: meditate on something, and that something “becomes you.” You get changed. 

If the subject matter of your meditations are God’s thoughts, then those thoughts get inside you and have a transforming effect on you. Meditation, therefore, is a main spiritual discipline leading to soul renewal and transformation.

The practice of meditation is found in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. For example, in Genesis 24:63 we read that Isaac went out into a field to "meditate." What did he do? I once asked my seminary Old Testament professor this question to which he answered, "Isaac mumbled." This "mumbling" was a repetitive activity using some word or message from God. Biblical meditation is an “over and over” kind of thing.

Repetition is not something to be scorned, as when someone complains, “Why are we repeating the same thing over and over and over again?” The answer is: Because God wants to get this truth deep inside you. From a God-perspective, repetition is cool, and needd.

We see the repetitive, ongoing nature of meditation in a passage like Psalm 1:1-3:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked 
or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, 
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, 
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. 
Whatever he does he prospers.

Here meditation is a "day and night" activity. If it’s not “day and night,” then it’s not “meditation.” You’re not meditating if you just look at something quickly, and then move on. 

In Psalm 1 meditation’s object is "the law of the Lord." Imagine the depth in the psalmist who made God’s law his continuous meditation. Contrast this to the superficial life that only skims over the surface of things. Meditation’s purpose is to go deeper.

What is meditation? Meditation is to reading as digestion is to eating. Think of a cow chewing its cud. Biblical "food" chewed over and over becomes more assimilable to the body. In the end, this "food" becomes one's body. When the food we take in becomes us we are nourished and transformed.

To be transformed by God requires going slow. Biblical meditation takes time. It’s a slow cooker, rather than a microwave. Conversely, "Mc-meditation" is "fast food" that, when wolfed down, doesn’t stay with you. Meditation requires chewing slowly on things, looking at them from many perspectives. To meditate is to dissect the scripture or moment piece by piece, and then to examine each piece.

Psalm 1 promises that meditation's result is a fruitful, prosperous life in whatever one does. My experience is the more I prayerfully meditate, the more God's thoughts and desires become my thoughts and desires. To do this is to enter deeper waters.  In terms of what God wants my life becomes more fruitful and prosperous. One’s “depth of soul” is increased.

Biblical meditation is not another form of self-help. Rather, it is essentially for the sake of God, not for the sake of self. While meditation can bring personal fruitfulness, its telos or purpose is God. A correct theo-logy is always centered on God (theos) and not on persons. Thus Psalm 19:14 petitions, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Meditation brings personal reward, but its raison d'etre is to please God.

Historically, there are at least five objects of Christian meditation.[1] The first is meditation on the Scriptures. Psalm 119:97 reads, "O, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." An example of this would be to take a passage such as Psalm 23 and carry it with you day after day, morning and evening, saying it over and over and over. I often write verses on 3 X 5 cards and carry them with me to meditate on during the day. I pull them out, even if only for a moment, and repeat them as if memorizing them. I want them to get inside of me. I pray the kind of prayer Henri Nouwen once prayed: “Lord, let this truth descend from my mind into my heart.”

Secondly, there is meditation on the creation. Psalm 8:3 says, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place..." Jesus asks us to consider the lilies and look at the sparrows. To "consider" takes time. It’s much more than just a passing glance. God has much to teach us when we ponder the creation. Meditation on the creation often leads to a clarity about life and death. I wonder how much attention I would pay to life and death if I didn’t take time to meditate on God’s creation, since in it there is the constant theme of life vs. death?

In the third place, Christian meditation makes the world, and the activity of God in the world, its subject matter. Psalm 77:11-2 reads, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds." Personally, this means three things for me: a) I will ponder the history of the activity of God in the Scriptures; b) I will meditate on the current condition of the world and discern God's activity in it; c) I will remember often all that God has done in my life.  

Fourth, and historically, we see that deep followers of Jesus take much time meditating on Jesus, and on the things and mysteries of Christ. A classic example of this in Christian history is The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. For example, many have taken extended time to simply meditate on the Cross – its meaning, its significance, its application, its splendor.

A fifth object of meditation is on one's self in the light of God's searching Holy Spirit. Here we pray with the psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart. See if there are any wicked ways or anxious thoughts in me." Here, for me, persons like Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson, and Richard Foster lead the way.

The human heart is a fragile instrument, easily put out of tune with God. Meditation "retunes" our heart to God's heart. Meditating on God's thoughts in Scripture, or on the creation, are main ways of getting back in tune with God. To be "in tune" with God is to be in God's presence. 

Meditation is a spiritual discipline that escorts us into the presence of God. It's in that place that prayer becomes effective.

[1] From Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Friday, December 29, 2023

Does God Hate Me If I Am Divorced?

A friend e-mailed me with some questions about divorce. Here are their questions in quotes, with my responses in bullets.

"For those of us who are Christians and have been divorced (either initiated by us or not) how would you respond to someone who says, "Does God hate me because I have been through a divorce?""

• The answer to this is: No. God loves you. God’s love does not go up and down with our performance.
• Does God hate divorce? Yes. And it is good that he does. A divorce is not only a failure, but also a breaking of a covenant made before God. One promises to stay together for all of life, until one dies, through better or worse. The results of the ripping apart of what God has “welded” together are devastating. See Mark 10:9, where the word for “joined together” is, literally, “welded together.” (A Wedding is a Welding.)Tear it apart and there’s damage to both welded pieces. And, there’s damage to the children. Anyone who thinks “The kids will be OK” is living in denial-la-la-land. See, e.g., Judith Wallenstein’s The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. No wonder God hates divorce!
• “Worse” times happen in every marriage. Every marriage has conflict. Every marriage faces stress and struggle and pain and misunderstanding and setbacks and letdowns and so on.
• In premarital counseling I use the FOCCUS material. I think it’s excellent, providing a premarital MRI of the relationship’s areas of strength and weakness, agreement and disagreement. As long as a person doesn’t lie on the FOCCUS inventory (which has happened), I feel we can greatly strengthen and prepare premarital couples for both better and worse.

“My first wife filed for divorce and I am now married to another woman. It seems when I hear people speak of divorce, they mention it in the negative. I am not in agreement with divorce; however, one spouse can't make another spouse remain in the marriage. My first wife chose to leave because we clashed or butted heads all the time. While I was willing to work it out, she was not. I think there are situations like mine where one person wants to stay but the other chooses to leave and they become marked with the "divorce" tag.”

• If one person chooses to divorce there’s not much the other can do about it. It was good that you tried to save the marriage. There was nothing intrinsically unsavable about your first marriage. It is a given that, in marriage, husband and wife will “butt heads.” Opposites, which first attracted, now repel and come against each other. You will never find a marriage where this does not happen.
• I think divorce is always negative. As a divorcee you can agree with that. It was painful for you. But, as I said above, God has not ceased loving you, and his plans and purposes have not been stripped away from you.

“One problem I have with that label is that in some cases it can't be fixed. If I cheat on my wife, I can stop doing that. If I lie and steal, I can stop doing that. I can't stop being a divorced person if my spouse refuses to be married to me. As a Christian, when we talk about grace and mercy for sins, doesn't that apply to divorce also?”

• I have never seen a troubled marriage that cannot be fixed. Ever. I’m talking about, probably, a thousand or so over my forty-four years of ministry. Surely one doesn’t want to say  there are marriages God is powerless to repair? But it does take two persons to agree to get help. Usually both persons are 100% responsible for the marital problems. I suggest viewing it that way. If husband and wife are broken by their own failures that contribute to the marriage mess, then I feel we have a marriage that can be saved.
• Yes, of course, grace and mercy applies to divorce. I don’t know what it would mean to say that they do not apply.

"If everyone in your congregation who was divorced came up to you and asked how could they rectify it, what would you say?"
• If persons are contemplating divorce, see some things I have written here.
• If they are legally divorced and want to correct the relationship, I am all for doing that, with God’s help. I think God is pleased when that happens.
• And, finally, we have seen some divorced couples get remarried with wonderful results! To study this, one of the best resources is Remarriage after Divorce in Today's Church: Three Views (one of which is by Craig Keener).

Dr. John Piippo - How God Changes the Human Heart

I'm re-posting this to keep it in play. (Thank you again Carol.)

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Transitioning to a Presence-Driven Church: Step One

(Grand Haven, Michigan)

When I do a "Presence-Driven Church conference or retreat, some ask the question, "What do we do now?" Here is how I see this.

Step One in transitioning to a Presence-Driven Church is this: the pastors/leaders  must engage in the ongoing abiding life. 

Do not view these teachings as tools for ministry. Rather, see yourself as instruments of righteousness being formed by the Father's hands. This is all about relationship with God, not programming the church. You need to spend time alone with God, otherwise you will not really understand, and you will not be credible.

Seek God, spend much time with God, for the sake of your own restoration and transformation. Begin to live in constant, abiding renewal.

Along the way, share stories of what God is doing, transformationally, in you. 

It is crucial that you not try to program this, or strive to make things happen. This is a slow-cooker, not a microwave.

In my experience, many Westernized pastors do not do this. And, among those who attend my classes and seminars, most do not continue in this. They fall back into the rut of, "I don't have enough time to pray."

For many pastors the praying life will be a revolutionary change. There will be resistance. Therefore, begin today, not tomorrow. Carve out relational time with God. This "step" is to continue and grow and increase until the day you stand fully in God's presence.

Remember how God spoke to you at the conference? Remember how restoring and renewing your solitary times with God were? It can be the same today. God did not remain at the conference center. He, Immanuel, is with you, presently. Trust and abide in him.

Don't force the issue with your people. Do not try to make things happen. Of course you want to share your experience with your people. But I suggest deepening the experience in yourself first. Pray, today, like you did at the conference. Do not bypass this step. (Refer to my book Praying about this.)

Slow-cook in God's presence, for weeks. Re-familiarize yourself with your God. "Forget about yourself, concentrate on Him, and worship Him." Tend the fire within.

With greater, growing familiarity, comes increasing discernment. Discernment is in direct proportion to familiarity. God will show you what to do, and when to do it.

Lead by being led. The Lord is your shepherd. You will not be wanting. And, you will bear much fruit.

Find another (or more) pastor-leader, and share together your experiences with God.

Then, along the way, discernment increases. God will lead you to lead your people into the abiding life, into God's beautiful, empowering presence.

When God says "Now!" preach, and teach, out of John chapters 14 & 15. 

My leadership book is Leading the Presence-Driven Church.


(I wrote these reminders to myself many years ago. I put them on an email, and sent the email to myself, periodically. I called it "REMEMBER." Because I can forget. I'm posting this, mostly for myself.)

Be myself. Be who God made me to be, with all mstrengths and infirmities.    

Overcome fear & intimidation.

Overcome denial.

Overcome addiction

Do not compare...

Stimulate the mind with intellectually challenging reading.
Physically exercise

Get outside and ponder God's creation

Listen to excellent music

Write beautiful worship songs

Remember blessings

Enjoy Linda, Dan, Josh, Levi, Harper

God works all things together for good!

Live in gratitude

Remember - you're not alone

Eat well

Pray about struggles

Enter deeply into God's presence

Know the Father's love

Play the guitar

Lead worship with passion

Preach with passion and excellence

Teach brilliantly


Don't lose your joy

Lead with confidence

Mentor with great discernment...

Counsel others

Write the books

Take beautiful photographs

Love others deeply

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Physics and Philosophy of Time

(I have aged. Linda has not.)

(I'm re-posting this for a friend.)

I am seventy-four years old. Where has the time gone!? And what, anyway, is "time?" 

Here are some thoughts. For more you might read Now: The Physics of Time, by Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, and Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation, by Alan Burdick. Especially helpful is God and Time: Four Views

Scientific American as published several essays on the nature of time -  A Question of Time: The Ultimate Paradox. One of my favorite physicists, Paul Davies, has an essay called "That Mysterious Flow." Here are some of his thoughts on time.

"Nothing in known physics corresponds to the passage of time. Indeed, physicists insist that time doesn’t flow at all; it merely is."

Our commonsense view is that time is "slipping away." It feels like there is a "flow" to time. However, Einstein said, “The past, present and future are only illusions, even if stubborn ones.”

Davies writes: "Physicists prefer to think of time as laid out in its entirety— a timescape, analogous to a landscape— with all past and future events located there together. It is a notion sometimes referred to as block time. Completely absent from this description of nature is anything that singles out a privileged, special moment as the present or any process that would systematically turn future events into present, then past, events. In short, the time of the physicist does not pass or flow."

Time is just as real as space, but "the flow of time" is unreal. 

Time is unidirectional. For example, an egg dropped on the floor will break into pieces. But the reverse process - a broken egg spontaneously assembling itself into an intact egg - is never witnessed. "Nature abounds with irreversible processes." But there is no "arrow of time." Yes, time is unidirectional, but...

..."this does not imply, however, that the arrow is moving toward the future, any more than a compass needle pointing north indicates that the compass is traveling north. Both arrows symbolize an asymmetry, not a movement. The arrow of time denotes an asymmetry of the world in time, not an asymmetry or flux of time. The labels “past” and “future” may legitimately be applied to temporal directions, just as “up” and “down” may be applied to spatial directions, but talk of the past or the future is as meaningless as referring to the up or the down."

Remember - this is physics. We may feel some flow of time, but in reality time is not something that moves or flows. 

Note this: We do not really observe the passage of time. "What we actually observe is that later states of the world differ from earlier states that we still remember. The fact that we remember the past, rather than the future, is an observation not of the passage of time but of the asymmetry of time." Think of individual movie frames. As we watch a movie we experience individual states of affairs that are different from previously experienced states of affairs. That's all.

Think again of the "broken egg" example. Imagine a movie of the egg being dropped on the floor and breaking. Then imagine the film sequence being run backwards. We would see that the backwards sequence was unreal, even though there would seem to be a "flow" to the backwards series. This shows the illusion of the "flow of time." Yes, time is asymmetrical, but "time’s asymmetry is actually a property of states of the world, not a property of time as such."

When I remember the past and the many birthdays I have already celebrated, but do not remember the future birthdays that (hopefully) are forthcoming, this is "an observation not of the passage of time but of the asymmetry of time." Note: only conscious observers register the "flow of time." "Therefore, it appears that the flow of time is subjective, not objective."

I think the biblical distinction between chronos and kairos may help us here. Chronos is "clock time," and the experience of a flow of time. But kairos is more like a discrete, individual frame in a movie isolated from all other events. Kairos is the "right time," or the "appointed time." 

All of this is good news for me. Time has really not "passed me by." Time is not "slippin', slippin', slippin'... into the future."  

Davies writes: 

"What if science were able to explain away the flow of time? Perhaps we would no longer fret about the future or grieve for the past. Worries about death might become as irrelevant as worries about birth. Expectation and nostalgia might cease to be part of human vocabulary. Above all, the sense of urgency that attaches to so much of human activity might evaporate."


Here's a review of some philosophical ideas about time. (Special thanks to Manuel Velazquez's excellent Philosophy: A Text With Readings, 11th edition)

PLATO (Ancient Greek philosopher, 429-347 BCE)

  • "Time" exists independently of events that occur in time.
  • "Time is like an empty container into which things and events may be placed; but it is a container that exists independently of what (if anything) is placed in it." (SEP
ARISTOTLE (Ancient greek philosopher, 384-322 BCE)
  • Time does not exist independently, contra Plato, of the events that occur in time.
  • This view is called "Reductionism with Respect to Time."
  • This means that "all talk that appears to be about time can somehow be reduced to talk about temporal relations among things and events." (SEP)
  • The idea of a period of time without change is seen as incoherent.
  • Thus "time" cannot exist independently of what is placed in it. Apart from events, no time exists.
AUGUSTINE (Augustine of Hippo, 354-430)
  • Time, in a sense, does not exist.
  • The past no longer exists.
  • The future does not yet exist.
  • Only the present moment is real.
  • But the present moment has, in itself, neither a past nor a future.
  • The present moment is timeless.
  • "Time," from God's perspective, is different from our perspective.
  • God is outside of time.
  • Time is like a line of events stretched out before God.
  • Every moment - past, present, and future - lies on this line. Everything on the "line of time" is fixed. This is God's perspective. (Cmp. C.S. Lewis who, in Mere Christianity, employed Augustine's view of time.)
McTAGGERT (British philosopher M.E. McTaggert, 1886-1925)
  • Compare McTaggert to Davies, who cites McTaggert in his essay.
  • The flow of time as we experience it is unreal.
  • "Time" is a fixed series of moments, each moment either "before" or "after" the other moments. This is "objective time."
  • We can also think of "time" as a sequence of flowing moments. Each moment changes or flows from "future" to "present" to "past." This is "subjective time."
  • "Past," "present," and "future" are incompatible with each other. Therefore it is impossible for the same thing (viz., the same "moment") to be simultaneously future, present, and past.
  • But if time did "flow," then every moment would have to be future, and then present, and then past.
  • So the idea of subjective time as a sequence of flowing moments is unreal.
  • Subjective time is unreal. Our experience of time as "passing" is an illusion.
  • Following this McTaggert said, "I believe that nothing that exists can be temporal, and that therefore time [subjective] is unreal." (The Nature of Existence)
  • "Time" is an unchanging, fixed series of events frozen onto the "line of time" that makes up the series. But this is not really time, because there is no flow or change here. And, since subjective time is unreal, time cannot be real.
KANT (German philosopher Immanuel Kant, 1724-1804)
  • Time - whether subjective or objective - is simply a construct of the human mind.
  • "Time" and "space" are categories of the mind that the mind uses to organize the flow of changing sensations.
  • Kant said, "Time is therefore given a priori." "Time" as a mental category is "prior to experience" and organizes or categorizes experience.
  • Time is not real but is a mental construct.
HUSSERL (German phenomenological philosopher, 1859-1938)
  • See Husserl's The Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness.
  • Husserl is in the Kantian stream of thinking. He is not interested in the metaphysical status of time, but time as transcendental, as lying at the base of consciousness, and giving shape to our experience. 
  • Husserl "considers the present, past, and future as modes of appearing or modes by which we experience things and events as now, no longer (past) or not yet (future)." (IEP)
BERGSON (French philosopher Henri Bergson, 1859-1941)
  • "Objective time," the "time" of the scientist, is just a conceptual abstraction, a construct of the mind.
  • The image of time as a line is simply an image; the concept of objective time is only a concept. Neither images nor concepts can get at the reality.
  • Only what we directly experience is real; viz., what we "intuit."
  • We directly experience or intuit the flow of time. Bergson says we have the "intuition of duration."
  • Real time is subjective time. This is the "flow of time" that I experience moving from future, through present, and into the past.
  • Objective time is an intellectual reconstruction and thus is an illusion."Time" does not actually exist "out there" in the world (it's not a reality transcendent to human subjectivity).
WILLIAM LANE CRAIG (Christian theist, 1947 - present)
  • Apart from events time does not exist.
  • Prior to creation time did not exist.
  • A personal God need not experience a temporal succession of mental events. "God could know the content of all knowledge - past, present, and future - in a simultaneous and eternal intuition." (See Craig, "God, Time, and Eternity")
  • "The proper understanding of God, time, and eternity would be that God exists changelessly and timelessly prior to creation and in time after creation."
  • There are no "events" prior to creation. Therefore, since God exists prior to creation and is an "eventless" being, "time" does not exist prior to creation. At the creation of the universe time begins. On a relational view of time God now relates to the universe, "and God subjects himself to time by being related to changing things."
STEPHEN HAWKING (Physicist, author of A Brief History of Time, 1942-present)
  • Time is understood in relation to events. Hawking writes: 

  • "Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang are simply not defined, because there's no way one could measure what happened at them... [T]he universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago. The beginning of real time would have been a singularity at which the laws of physics would have broken down." (See here

(For diagram + explanation, see here.)

FOR MORE READING: God and Time: Four Views

And: W.L. Craig, "God, Time, and Eternity"


In my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God I write about hearing and discerning the voice of God and not much about time. But subjectively praying brings us into kairos moments, felt timeless experiences that are nondirectional because one's heart has arrived in the presence of God.