|- Terry Crisp -
* Are the principles of sonship built upon the theories of quantum physics?
While it's a commonly known fact that New Agers have associated themselves with quantum theory for many long years now, we've noticed that more and more ministries who identify themselves with sonship are tying it (or some aspect of it) into their teachings, as well. Some have drawn some plausibly defensible analogies from it, carefully guarding their comments, and limiting their applications, in order to stay within the bounds of biblical reason. But others have simply parroted what they've heard, and taken things to extremes, without at all understanding what they were saying. Needless to say, this has brought a great amount of confusion among the camp, and given critics another reason to accuse sonship of being just another branch of New Age. Therefore, we feel that it's necessary to explain a little bit about the theory itself, how it came into being, and how it has commonly been interpreted by New Age advocates, in order that we might make a distinction. Hopefully, we can do that in as simple of terms as is possible. (We understand that the "sticky details" of this may not be edifying to everyone; but we would encourage you to at least consider our concluding remarks.) From the latter part of the 1700's, scientific thought was primarily based on the observations (and principles resulting from those observations) of Isaac Newton. Much could be said about his approach to physics, his influences and his inspirations, but simply stated, Newton's theory was that the cosmos worked in machine-like fashion in accordance with certain absolute and inexorable laws set in time and space. This theory became viewed as the "house" in which all scientific contemplation took place.
Newtonian (also referred to as classical) physics provided us with the picture of a clockwork universe. Viewing the macrocosm through this window, matter was believed to obey the laws of nature in an objective manner, with little exception or variation.
Astrophysical theory was strictly governed by this rule. But over the course of time, scientists were naturally inclined to believe that they could gain a better and more accurate understanding of the universe by reducing creation to its lowest common denominator. Thus, interest began to turn to the microcosm.
For the most part, Newton's "house rules" had gone unchallenged throughout the remainder of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. While the occupants of his house had observed life through its windows, no one had ever dared to venture beyond its walls. But in December of the year 1900 (interestingly enough, at the very same time that Charles Parham's Bible students were contemplating whether or not the power of the Holy Ghost was still available to the believer [see Part 1 of our series]), microcosmic theory was brought before the scientific community, and a door suddenly opened before them. Max Planck, in theorizing about the subatomic realm, suggested to the German Physical Society that "matter absorbed heat energy and emitted light energy discontinuously" in "energy packets" (which packets Einstein would later refer to as quanta). Of course, this suggestion of a discontinuity of quantum emission was not in keeping with Newton's Law. But it did get them thinking. Although he probably didn't realize it at the time, the opening of this door would lead to an entirely new way of viewing the universe for his fellow physicists, and would have a profound impact on the world for generations to come.
Once Planck's proposal circulated through the ranks, it challenged an international group of physicists to look closer, and to determine whether or not there was just cause to entertain such a notion. Among them was a promising young man by the name of Albert Einstein, who would offer his theoretical blueprints in 1905.
If Planck is accredited with opening the door which led out of the house that Newton built, then Einstein should be recognized as being the architect of the new house.
Certainly, his ideas were revolutionary. He theorized something that had never been suggested before...that space and time should no longer be viewed as distinct and absolute, but were relative to each other and in relation to the fixed speed of light. In order to show this, he came up with the now famous equation E=MC2. What this stated was that matter and energy could not be strictly separated. Rather, all mass had energy and may be translated into energy---in measures which man had never imagined before.
This revelational "bomb" of atomic energy shook the scientific community to its core, and created more questions than it knew what to do with.
For the next three decades, the world's physicists worked feverishly with the new model.
But around every turn, they were met with unexpected and seemingly impassible roadblocks. New technology had enabled them to see into an otherwise invisible frontier, and to delve deeper and deeper into some of the most minute parts of material existence.
But that which they discovered left them awestruck. Just as Planck had originally proposed, there was an indeterminable rate of release regarding quanta. But what were they to make of this? In the macroscopic world (on which Newton based his laws), the forces factoring into the outcome had always been knowable. They could easily be observed in nature, or through the lens of the telescope, thus enabling their outcome to be determined through the precise equations of geometry. But in the microscopic world, such exactitude was not possible. The reason for this was that the observer had no way of knowing exactly which variables might play a part in the outcome. This, of course, made objectivity an impossibility. In the area where the tiniest strands of creation's fabric were concerned, physicists were forced to work with statistical percentages, rather than with actual facts (which led many of them to believe that the universe was at best left to chance). They could only predict the probability of the results, rather than using a precise science.
Something else that perplexed these physicists was the unusual behavior of subatomic particles. When the parts of the atom ---electrons, protons, and neutrons--- were observed, they were sometimes seen to possess the characteristics of waves (like energy), and at other times the characteristics of particles (like matter). The observers had no explanation for this strange phenomena; it took them completely by surprise. So, they conceived two principles in regard to it: the Principle of Complementarity and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The formulation of these principles was the only way they could avoid being stymied by "the measurement problem." The man responsible for formulating the Principle of Complementarity, Neils Bohr, concluded that, though particles exhibit mutually exclusive characteristics, the contradictions discovered need not pose an obstacle. Rather than looking at the properties of the atom reductionistically (as being separate and individual one from another), they must be seen holistically (as a whole unit). This unity of opposites would allow them to see that the qualities actually complemented each another, rather than bringing contradiction.
In connection with that, Werner Heisenberg's observations revealed that it's experimentally impossible to chart an electron's velocity and position at the same time.
When its velocity is measured, a knowledge of its position is excluded, and vice versa.
Heisenberg also concluded that the observation itself influenced the measuring process, thus breaking down the barrier that had always been thought to have existed between subject and object. This meant that the observer could no longer be seen as an innocent bystander, passively observing the subatomic process as it occurred. Now, he, too, had to be factored into the equation, as an active participant in the overall scheme of things. The conclusion to all of this was that the future state of an electron is uncertain, to say the least. No one could say with confidence what it's final result might be.
These theoretical deductions had a gargantuan effect on the scientific community. In a science based on predictability, the Principle of Complementarity demanded an acceptance of contradictions, while the Uncertainty Principle stated that fundamental reality was unpredictable, and that the direction of the universe was impossible to ascertain. Amazing, isn't it? Within the span of a few short years, Newton's house was rendered uninhabitable, and its tenants were moving out in mass.
As one might imagine, these findings came as welcome news to the metaphysical community. They claimed that the conclusions reached by quantum physicists confirmed what they'd been saying all along...that there is a basic oneness which interconnects all things, a relativeness regarding space and time, a dialectical unity of opposites pervading the universe, and an ever-changing nature of reality, which is directly determined by consciousness. Marilyn Ferguson wrote in her book, The Aquarian Conspiracy, "science is only now verifying what humankind has known intuitively since the dawn of history." Almost immediately, numerous volumes of literature appeared on the market which set out to explain exactly how modern physics was espoused to Eastern philosophies. Of those having the greatest impact were Michael Talbot's book Mysticism and the New Physics, Paul Davies' book God and the New Physics, and Gary Zukov's The Dancing Wu Li Masters. But perhaps the most influential of all was Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics. Capra went to great lengths to show that the scientific house was indeed joined to the mystical house of the Orient. According to him, both belonged under one roof.
These, as well as others, took Bohr's Complentarity Principle as proof that the dialectic form of logic best described reality. They said that it paralleled the Eastern traditional principle known as the yin/yang, and was superior to the Western, reductionistic rationale of non-contradiction. They also took Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle entirely out of context to show that all things in life are relative, and that nothing should ever be considered as being absolute. They concluded that since time and space were seen to be relative, then the concepts of past and future, before and after must therefore be illusory.
Everything that ever was, or ever shall be, is both contained and considered to exist within the eternal NOW. And perhaps the greatest stretch of all was their conclusion that since observations made on the subatomic world could not occur without there being an alteration made in the process, this somehow meant that the consciousness of the observer literally created reality, rather than merely discovering it. (This is known as solipsism, that is, that mind is all). To them, the observer and the observed became one as a result of consciousness.
Having seen how New Agers interpreted it, we'll get back to the question. Do we believe that sonship builds upon the principles of quantum physics? Our convictions are these.
While we don't deny the discoveries made in the atomic and subatomic realms, neither do we feel that they always can, or must be carried over into the spiritual realm. There are several reasons for saying this. Because we're primarily dealing with theoretical bases, we must recognize the natural limitations that go along with them. This was true with classical physics; and it's true with modern. We can't place full stock in the theoretical conclusions of science, simply because such conclusions are in a constant state of change and flux. Therefore, it would be foolhardy to base our belief system on something that might be revised tomorrow.
A good example of this appears in the Urantia Book. Although it never acknowledged science as its source, its origin is nonetheless apparent. In the first printing of the book (1955) the supposedly "celestial" authors state that "[the] number twelve, with its subdivisions and multiples, runs throughout all basic life patterns of all seven superuniverses...on Urantia (i.e. planet Earth) there are forty-eight units of pattern control---trait determiners---in the sex cells of human reproduction" (p. 397). There can be little doubt that this mention of "units of pattern control" was a reference to human chromosomes, since chromosomes found in ova and sperm cells are what determine the traits and characteristics of human offspring. According to the UB, there are 48 of them. We find it as no small coincidence that in the year 1955 (the year the UB was written), biologists were still under the impression that there were exactly that number of chromosomes in human reproductive cells. They were still publishing those figures in their medical journals, and had done so since 1923. But in 1956, new research revealed that there were actually 46 chromosomes (23 pairs), two less than had previously been believed. Oh well...so much for the Urantia Book's "divine" inspiration! When science was forced to make an adjustment resulting from new information, the UB was made to look foolish!
Certainly, there are parallels to be found between the natural and the supernatural. Rom.
1:20 says that from the creation of the world the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by those things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.
And Psalm 19:1 says that the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. These passages, and others like them, expressly declare that the very purpose of creation's existence is to mirror certain aspects of the Creator's Being. But in considering God's relationship with creation, we must keep in mind that He transcends it. That means that He can never be fully expressed by anything that He creates. The limitations should be obvious. Furthermore, we should also remember that the drawing of parallels will only be as accurate as the interpretation itself. It naturally stands to reason, then, that if nature's revelation is misread by an individual, the interpretation resulting from it would fail to adequately reflect the things of the Spirit.
While New Age science writers such as Capra, Zukov, and Talbot have very publically and aggressively equated quantum theory with Eastern philosophical principles, they in no wise speak for the scientific community as a whole. There has never been unanimity among physicists concerning such an alliance. In fact, several more conservative theorists have renounced their association, saying that men like Capra have taken scientific conclusions outside their proper sphere and domain (an act referred to by one physicist as the law of unintended consequence." Take, for instance, the way they use the theory of relativity to support moral relativism. Einstein was very adamant to state that his theory strictly concerned space and time, NOT matters of ethics or morality. After all, his was a theory about relativity, not relativism. In fact, he had originally considered calling it "invariant theory" to avoid any misconceptions of the sort.) But even among the ranks of metaphysically-leaning physicists, there is dissension and disagreement on the issue.
Ken Wilber, a highly recognized New Age physical theorist himself, wrote, "To hook transpersonal psychology / mysticism to the consensus of the new quantum mechanics is not possible, because there is no consensus. Those connections that have been drawn between physics and mysticism are of the pick and choose variety." Therefore, it would be a mistake to assume that science endorses this "shotgun wedding" metaphysicians have attempted to hold between quantum theory and mysticism. The same would be true, should teachers of sonship attempt such a thing. Science simply would not go along with any alliance with religion, regardless of the group that would suggest it.
Though it's not a widely reported fact these days, it's still worth noting that the architect and builder of the new house of physics, Einstein, was unreservedly committed to the existence of an independent, objective reality. He also believed in the existence of absolutes in regard to the forces of nature. It was his conviction that over the course of time, men would eventually discover the variables which had so far eluded recognition, and would force them to formulate new theories based on this new information. And in regard to the conclusions reached by colleagues Bohr and Heisenberg (that the universe was at best left to chance) he said, "God doesn't play dice with the universe." He obviously believed that all things were working after the counsel of God's will.
Like the scientific community, we see a number of problems associated with metaphysical conclusions. We reject the idea of a subjective relativism in regard to fundamental reality. Such an impression renders terms such as truth and objectivity meaningless. We reject the notion that dialecticism renders absolutism obsolete. And we reject the idea that human consciousness is responsible for the creation of reality. If this were so, then how did the whole thing get started in the first place? Scientific theorists and religious theologians alike would attest that the universe existed long before man even came into the picture (exactly how long before is their issue of debate).
We would agree with Einstein, that in the course of time, there will come the discovery of a constant, objective, unchangeable, and absolute base against which the realities of space and time can be measured. At the same time, however, we would differ with him over the way in which this discovery will be made. You see, while Einstein expected this information to come by way of observation, the truth of the matter is that it only comes by revelation. And we believe that God has already revealed this information to the sons of men, if only they could accept it. More than three thousand years ago, the psalmist David said, "Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to Thy ordinances: for all are Thy servants" (Psa. 119:89-91)! The Amplified Bible says that "by faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the Word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible" (Heb.
11:3). And again, the book of Hebrews says that in these last days, God has spoken to us "in [the person of a] Son...by and through whom He created the worlds and the reaches of space and the ages of time [He made, produced, built, operated, and arranged them in order]...and He is the perfect imprint and very image of God's nature, upholding, and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty power" (Heb. 1:2-3, Amplified). Praise God! Contained within these passages is the missing link in the theory of relativity! While all things in the vastness of space may be in a continual state of motion and change, the Word of God's power is forever settled in heaven. It never changes, never varies, and never produces an ecliptic shadow of turning.
So it's the one thing against which all time and space can be measured! Therefore, if scientists like Einstein, Stephen Hawking, or Carl Sagan are to ever understand the universe and its operation, they must first accept God's revelation of it by faith. For it's by faith that we understand the deepest mysteries of the universe, and not by empirical means.
We're firmly committed to the fact that every worldview must start from the vantage point of God's Word. As we say, it's the only true point of reference there is. Newton was able to reveal many good principles in his theory, having based it on an objective reality. But because he thought that the operation of creation could be reduced to the workings of a machine, God came to be seen as being transcendent over creation, but not immanently involved with the affairs thereof (this is known as Deism, and was the first step toward Naturalism.) Furthermore, the strictness of his theory disallowed for the working of the miraculous, so it could not explain its presence in the world (As you know, Jesus defied Newton's Laws on many occasions, by walking on water, turning the water into wine, multiplying the fish and the loaves, appearing and disappearing, etc.).
Likewise, Einstein revealed certain principles, which, when taken in their proper context, are of great benefit to the understanding of our world. But when they're lifted out of that context, they tend to present God as being equal with creation, but not necessarily transcendent over it. This corresponds to Pantheism. Therefore, it matters not whether we're considering Newton's house or Einstein's, the fact remains..."unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it." Reality is defined by God alone, through the revelation of His Word; and every theory that fails to align itself with that definition is destined for revision. But, as we say, until natural science is fielded by spiritually minded men, we needn't expect the scientific community to agree with us about that (ref. I Cor. 2:14).
Now, the question might be asked: Do we discount the value of the holistic perspective?
No. We just happen to believe that it has its place, just as does the reductionistic perspective. And do we reject the idea of a universal oneness among creation? Again, no, as long as that oneness is explained properly. There is an inexplicable tie which links things both animate and inanimate. This compels us to have respect, not only for one another, but for all things in nature as well. However, that doesn't mean that we have to take that idea to a monistic extreme. There can be a sense of integration among creation, while at the same time respecting the God-intended significance which belongs to each individual thing and species that God created and made. In other words, we can see things holistically, without having to dismiss their individuality as being an illusion. The same is true concerning the relationship which exists between God and the works of His hands. We can accept the idea that there's a connection between creation and Creator, without blurring the line which separates them. We agree with Doug Groothuis, who has written, "A biblical cosmology is not offended by modern speculations on the unity and interconnection of creation. While we must view such scientific theories with caution, the Bible pictures a God who sustains and unifies creation without violating the created integrity of distinct entities. (God created and sustains each according to its kind--- Gen. 1:11-25). Rather than a monistic cosmology, the biblical view of creation harmonizes the one (unity of creation) with the many (distinct creations). The biblical view, then, is holistic without being monistic. Pascal, the Christian philosopher and scientist, realized this long ago when he said that 'all is held together by a natural though imperceptible chain which binds together things most distant and different; [therefore] I hold it equally impossible to know the parts without knowing the whole and to know the whole without knowing the parts in detail.'" ---end quote. Wonderfully worded, Pascal's insight integrates both reductionism and holism into a singular balanced worldview.
It must be seen that there are times when the holistic view best describes certain aspects of reality. At other times, the reductionistic view is required. One example of this is the Incarnation. When studying the ontology of the Last Adam, we're compelled to take the holistic approach, if the mystery of the Incarnation is to make any sense to us. Was Jesus God? Or was He a Man? The answer, of course, is that He is both. He was born of a virgin, making Him the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15); and yet, this Child that was born, and this Son which was given, was called, "Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). Therefore, He is the union and fusion of the two, the God-Man Christ Jesus. But trying to argue the issue purely from a reductionistic perspective will only lead to more of the schisms that have divided the church for centuries.
The same is true of the New Creation, of whom we are. Are we the sons of God, or the sons of man? The fact of the matter is, we are both. There is a divine side to our being, as well as a human side. Both sides go into the composition of the New Creation, and are inseparable and undeniable facts of our being. In fact, the New Creation cannot even exist apart from this union, for the experience of the new birth is solely reserved for those who have first been born of water (natural birth), and have thus experienced a state of humanity (we experience the new birth of the spirit in addition to our natural birth, not in subtraction to it, or in denial of it). As Jesus said, "except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:5). This is extremely important for us to keep in mind. Therefore, though the two seem incompatible to the natural mind, it's the union of the human side and the divine that results in something which never existed before, an entirely new creation. So, to avoid confusion, and to maintain a balance, we should never consider one part apart from the other. (In quantum mechanics, physicists were compelled to coin a term to describe the dualistic wave/particle nature observed in electrons. They called it a wavicle. In like manner, the New Creation should be seen as possessing two very different characteristics, but being the combination of them both.) Seeing ourselves in holistic fashion prevents us from committing the error of either restricting ourselves to mere human limitations, or of thinking of ourselves as gods.
This being true, however, we must not assume that holism is the prevailing view of scripture, or that dialecticism triumphs over the law of non-contradiction. To the contrary, dialecticism is the exception, not the rule; and even then, it's restricted to select situations. For instance, when we were speaking above of our human side being united to the divine side of our being, it must be understood that we were not talking about the fallen sinful nature of man, but rather, about the natural qualities and characteristics which are unique to man as a species. On this matter, we cannot afford to be mistaken.
You see, there can be no unity between the carnal mind and the mind of Christ; no integration between the flesh and the Spirit. These are at enmity one with another, and CAN NEVER BE RECONCILED (Rom. 8:6-8; Gal. 5:16-17). Therefore, when considering that which God has segregated, it's necessary for us to take the reductionistic approach. The holistic line of reasoning simply will not work in such instances.
Even though liberal theologians would like for us to believe otherwise, there's a strong showing of reductionism found in scripture. And in those places where it is found, the issue is clearly either/or. It is not both/and. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24). And again, in Matt.
12:33, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit." There's an overwhelming abundance of these kinds of statements. But perhaps, nowhere is the law of non-contradiction more pronounced than in Paul's admonition to the Corinthians. "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God...wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (II Cor. 6:14-18). Certainly, these words flew in the face of the "yin/yangers" of their day, even as they do today. So, you see, this is not rocket science. It's just good common sense. Even a country boy can tell you, you can't make all mules "gee and haw" together; so you can just forget about trying to yoke them together!
We should make one more illustration before moving on. When God looks at the New Creation Man in general, does He see one, or does He see many? The truth is, He sees both. Paul very clearly brings this out in I Cor. 12:12, where he said, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ." So, there is to be seen both a corporateness and an individuality within the body of Christ, if we're to understand the various relationships that are described in scripture.
In regard to the corporate body, we can see where God has established a state of oneness and holism which connects us all. Paul very beautifully brought this out in his letter to the Ephesians. Having described the division which once existed between those of the Circumcision and those who were not, he said to the Gentile believers that "At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself ONE NEW MAN, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby...for through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Eph. 2:12-18). From the time that God separated Abraham and his seed for His holy purposes, a wall existed between them and every other nation on the earth. They were set apart, and physically distinguished as the peculiar people of God. But because of the shed blood of the Lamb at Calvary, there is therefore now no division between those who are in Christ Jesus, regardless of race, gender, or social standing. He has broken down every barrier; and, in doing so, has made within Himself One New Man. What God hath put together, therefore, let no man put asunder. This is the holistic view. But lest any should attempt to extend that unity beyond the blood-drawn circle, we remind you of those defining words of Paul in II Cor. 6:14-18. You simply cannot unite those who are without Christ with those who are in Him, without committing a gross violation of scripture.
Even after we've come to Christ, and taken our place in Him, we mustn't think that this covers us from judgment, or gives us immunity to live as we please. True, we have an identity with the Firstborn, which makes us accepted in the Beloved. "As He is, so are we in this world" (I Jn. 4:17). And true, our lives are hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).
But we can rest assured that whenever correction is needed, and special attention is required, God does deal with us as individuals. "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son (that is, individually) whom He receiveth" (see Heb.
12:5-11; also Matt. 5:29-30). This is the reductionistic view, and is equally as important to our understanding of God's dealings with His sons as is the holistic.
In regard to the relativity of time and space, there are aspects of this which can enlarge our perspective. Without going into detail, we know that, based on the discoveries of scientists Michelson and Morley in 1887, there's a fixed rate of speed regarding the emission of light. In spite of the conditions, and in spite of the fact that its source might be in motion, light always travels at a rate of 186,000 miles per second. This is a constant, no matter where you are in the universe. What this means is that light emitted from the sun takes approximately eight minutes to reach the earth. Light from the nearest star takes about four years. Strange as it might seem, the moment that we observe it, we're actually seeing it as it appeared four years prior. So God has programmed a "timedelay" system into creation, which shows that things that occur in far distant places are not always recognized the moment in which they happen. Relating this to the things of the Spirit, we discover something truly profound. For certain events which transpire in the heavenlies are not immediately seen by man. It takes a while before they appear. But while the release-time of revelational light may precede its appearance, we also know that the effects of that light is not manifest until it actually arrives. This keeps things in perspective.
While we may accept the fact that God sees the end from the beginning, and all things in between, we must avoid the error of assuming that space/time is therefore nothing but an illusion, and that the final destiny of all things is its present state of being. This was the inane conclusion reached by the main character in Hermann Hesse's famous 1920s novel, Siddhartha. At the end of his life-long pursuit for wisdom, Siddhartha ultimately concluded that time is an illusion, and is that which serves as our greatest obstacle in life.
"Time is not real...I have realized this repeatedly. And if time is not real, then the dividing line that seems to lie between this world and eternity, between suffering and bliss, between good and evil, is also an illusion. The sinner is not on the way to a Buddha-like state; he is not evolving, although our thinking cannot conceive things otherwise. No, the potential Buddha already exists in the sinner; his future is already there. The potential hidden Buddha must be recognized in him, in you, in everybody. The world...is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment; every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potentially old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying peopleCeternal life.
It is not possible for one person to see how far another is on the way; the Buddha exists in the robber and dice player; the robber exists in the Brahmin. During deep meditation it is possible to dispel time, to see simultaneously all the past, present and future, and then everything is good, everything is perfect, everything is Brahmin. Therefore, it seems to me that everything that exists is good---death as well as life, sin as well as holiness, wisdom as well as folly. Everything is necessary, everything needs only my agreement, my assent, my loving understanding; then all is well with me and nothing can harm me." (pg. 143-144). This clearly illustrates the folly of this line of reasoning. Unfortunately, we've heard some of these same conclusions expressed as if they were sonship truths.
(The main difference is that the word Buddha is replaced with Christ.) Recently, I spoke with a lady whose reasoning was very similar to that ascribed to Siddhartha. During our conversation, she stated that we should see all men as being saved, filled with God's Spirit, and in every sense perfect. Anything that would attest otherwise (be it sin, sickness, or death) is a lie, an illusion, and the product of a vain imagination. As she described it, our coming into this awareness was the rest that remained for the people of God, and the ultimate experience of the Feast of Tabernacles.
When I wouldn't agree with her about this, she asked me, "What's wrong with seeing things as God sees them?" To which I replied, "Nothing... other than the fact that we're not God." You see, we're finite; God is Infinite. We live, and move, and have our being in the realm of chronos; He resides in that "far above all heavens" dimension, which transcends the realm of time. This means there are certain things about the Infinite that are absolutely unfathomable to the finite, and certain perspectives that are beyond our ability to even ascertain. As Paul wrote to the Romans, there are judgments of God's that are declared to be unsearchable, and ways of His that are simply past finding out (Rom.
11:33-36). If you don't believe Paul, then maybe you'd like to take Job's questionnaire (ref. Job 38-40)!
As far back as the fourth century, Boethius (480-524 AD) introduced what has become known as the "Eternal Now" concept in his writings. And from his writings the following illustration has been made. Suppose a man was watching a parade from the steps of a great building along the parade route. From where he stands, he is only able to see the parade as it passes by. He saw the beginning, he sees the middle, and he is about to see the end. Time, from his position, would be determined by the progress of the parade. But suppose that same man were to stand in the high watchtower, overlooking the procession from above. Then he would be able to see the entire ceremony simultaneously, as a single event from beginning to end. This, he said, is how God sees things, in comparison to the way man sees them.
We have no problem with the way Boethius employed his thought. He was simply using it to explain the divine perspective, the perspective of providence. And though he did conclude that from this perspective, evil really doesn't exist in the world (a conclusion to which we would certainly disagree), he did say that the perspective itself was a peculiar property of the mind of God. This is where many who have borrowed this illustration (or who have come up with their own personal version of it) have exceeded its usefulness.
We would agree that this is one of the ways in which God views things. At every given moment, God's view encompasses the entire scope of history, from the predawn days of creation to the consummation of the ages. Simultaneously, He is able to reckon all things in their finished and final state as though they already were (though it's obvious from scripture that He generally deals with man in respect to time). But we cannot accept the idea that this is how God means for us to view them, for this simple reason. We are NOT standing by the side of the road, watching the parade of history as it passes by. Neither are we standing on the top of the building, observing all things concurrently as they transpire below. WE ARE MARCHING IN THE PARADE. And because we are in the parade, we have no alternative but to remain conscious of our place, and the place of those in our generation around us. You see, because God is omnipresent, He has the luxury of being both a participant in, and an observer of the train of history. But because we are not, we're limited to occupying our position in time, and to experiencing the various experiences which he has ordained for us in our day. We cannot do otherwise.
Actually, the issue is not so much one of perspective as it is one of position. Historically speaking, we know that we're able to incorporate past events into our overall perspective by way of retrospect. And through the eyes of faith, we're also able to integrate future events in our perspective, because of the prophetic forecast of God's will. But we must also remember where we are in the unfolding plan of God, and what is our role in the march of time. Attempting to think otherwise can get us out of step with reality.
True, there is a sense in which time is relative. For each of us as individuals, our times are in His hands (Psa. 31:15). While some of us may be departing from one dimension in the Spirit, others may just now be experiencing it for the first time. Therefore, we could say that we all live in different "time zones," depending on our particular relation to the "Son." To put it another way, while one may be watching the "Son" set on one particular "day," another may already be watching the "Son" rise on the next. And one may be even be as Paul, who was said to have been "born out of due time" (I Cor. 15:8), that is, a man ahead of his time. Based on personal experience of this sort, who can objectively say what time it is? The answer would be relative to the believer. In fact, the precise timing of certain things is not even ours to know. "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power" (Acts 1:7). In His own time, and if He should so choose, God makes it known to us when we've crossed a time line. That's totally up to His discretion. But then, there are set times in scripture, which were foreordained before the world began. These are unequivocal, unconditional, and irreversibly destined for fulfillment. "To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." (Eccl. 3:1). A good example of one of these set times is marked by the Cross. Scripture states that the work of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was in the predetermined will of God before the foundation of the world. But it was not until the actual event transpired at a particular point in time that salvation was made available to mankind (see Gal. 4:4-5). Since then, "NOW is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2). The same is true concerning the Day of Pentecost. Throughout the Old Testament, prophecy had gone forth, and types and shadows pointed to an experience wherein believers would be filled with God's Spirit. In fact, Jesus even referred to it during the days of His flesh. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water'" (Jn.
7:37-38). The very next verse, however, goes on to tell us that "this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified." Clearly, the Spirit could not be poured out before the glorification of Jesus. A period of time had to transpire. Even after that, Jesus told His disciples that they had to wait for the promise of the Father, of which they had heard Him speak. But when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). At junctures like these, there is an absoluteness of time, which remain the same no matter where you are in God's great spiritual universe...and God brings certain individuals into the Kingdom for such times as these!
In like manner, we might say that there is a sense in which space is relative, as well. Are we born again, or is there a sense in which we're being born again? Are we about to cross the Jordan, and enter into the promised land, or are we already there, conquering the "giants" in Canaan, and possessing the land? Are we about to experience the marriage of the Lamb, or have we already been joined together with Him? Depending on the position from whence we make our observation, these are all issues which can be true either way.
They should not divide us, nor create conflicts which are unnecessary. But we should keep in mind that, while there may be an immediate sense in which many of these things are true for the New Creation believer in Christ, there's also an ultimate sense, which awaits fulfillment. It is for this that we remain in anticipation.
Allow us to reiterate our point. The Eternal Now concept can be useful, when shared within the proper parameters. But if it's not, then it can do more harm than good. For one thing, it can breed passivity. It can lead one to believe that he's already arrived, and that there's no more need to contend. The effects of this can be detrimental. As you know, effort is required of the butterfly to emerge from the cocoon. If it should cease from it's striving, it would never experience the freedom that it would otherwise enjoy. The same is true of us. There is a metamorphosis occurring within us. Since the moment of our spiritual conception, we've been undergoing a change from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. But the Lord controls the timing when the butterfly should come forth.
And until this emergence actually does take place, the work is not over. Some may say that the cocoon of carnality and corruption is just an illusion, and that it only exists in our minds. The moment we cease to believe in its existence, and start reckoning ourselves as being a finished work, we'll be free to fly about in the unbounded heavens as they do.
But the fact of the matter is, the cocoon is very real, very evident, and indicates that there is more through which we must press. (Despite the claims, we don't know of any one who has yet escaped it. Do you?) Therefore, let no man deceive you by any means. Once the Lord gives the signal, and the veil is actually rent, we'll not need to convince anyone that it is. The evidence will be obvious by the manifestation!
For another thing, the Eternal Now concept can make one oblivious to the needs of others. Sons of God cannot afford to let this happen. The firstborn Son was keenly aware of the needs surrounding him---and He ministered to them accordingly. If there were any hungry among the multitudes, He ministered to their physical needs. If there were any sick among them, He healed their ailing bodies. Jesus always related to man in the realm of chronos, in the parade of time---in full consideration of the present situation---and He was our greatest example of what ministry will be like during the Feast of Tabernacles. How, then, can those who claim to be living in the fullness of the Eternal Now say that this type of ministry is "old order"? Not once did Jesus try to convince the people that their conditions were naught but illusions. He simply went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the devil; and we're convinced that fellow sons will do the same.
Contrary to Eastern opinion, time is real and linear. Through it, we understand the unfolding of God's eternal purpose which was purposed in Christ, and the process by which He brings us into it. God framed the ages by the Word of God, and determined to bring forth certain events in certain epochs of time and history. Certainly, we know that God is not limited in His activities to times and seasons. He, being the Creator of time, is ultimately time's Master. However, He has chosen to move within those bounds in His dealings with man (for example, see Lk.19:44; 21:24; Jn. 7:6; 14:9; 16:2; Acts 3:19; 3:21; Rom. 9:9; Eph. 1:10; I Tim. 6:15; Titus 1:3; Heb. 1:1; I Pet. 1:11). Not only that, but in the ages to come He'll show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7). So, for those who think that time is about to end, just hold on! There's more to come!
Anxiety expresses itself in many ways, and those of us who treasure the truth of sonship are not immune to it. But in spite of the anxiety we oft times experience, the hope of sonship involves waiting. And waiting necessarily connotes the passage of time. There's no way of getting around it. It's an indisputable fact. We can't visualize our way into it; and we can't just make it happen by faith, simply because we've lost patience.
Furthermore, we can't leap into manifested sonship by "time travel," or by attempting to transcend the realm of time. We MUST wait until our change comes! "But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Rom. 8:25). We can assure you that, in spite of how we might dislike today's conditions, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us!
As you can see, there's much more that could be said along this vein. But to summarize our position, we believe that while certain aspects of quantum physics may be useful to illustrate certain sonship truths, we dare not build upon them as foundation stones. Also, the discovery of the principles upon which quantum phenomena takes place doesn't warrant a change in the basic presuppositions of sonship. We should have already had our presuppositions firmly established within us, written upon the tables of our hearts and minds, long before these issues ever came up. Therefore, there's no question about it.
Sonship is built upon the clear and indisputable teachings found in God's Word. It's the one thing which never needs revision or correction.
To be continued...
Writings in This Series: