Response to Bob Enyart's article "God is NOT Outside of Time Says Matt Slick"

by Matt Slick
3/23/2019
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On Dec. 1, 2017 I debated Mr. Will Duffy on open theism.  The debate occurred in the Denver, Colorado area.  The topic of the debate was "Is Open Theism a Proper Representation of the God of Scripture?"  No, it is not.  Nevertheless, I recently discovered an article written by Bob Enyart that someone posted on a Facebook page that I was on.  I forgot which one.  I first saw it on 3/22/2019.  I perused the article and quickly found this.

"Matt Slick made a major turnaround in his Calvinism and a huge concession to open theism. As a popular theologian, he now rejects the position he has had held for decades, namely, the settled-view belief that God exists outside of time." jesuspreacher.com/god-is-not-outside-of-time-says-matt-slick/

Well, not exactly. 

The timing of discovering the article coincides with an adjustment that I had already made regarding my use of the phrase "God exists outside of time." So, because of Mr. Enyart's article and because of my decision to already stop using that phrase in reference to God, I went ahead and wrote an article Is God outside of time?  Now, I want to make it clear that I did not change my position at all.  I simply don't think using the phrase is a good idea.  Furthermore, my comments about "God exists outside of time," have nothing to do with Mr. Enyart, his article, or my debate with Will Duffy.  In fact, neither of them were considerations in my decision to stop using the phrase, "God is outside of time," and variations of it.  If either one of them were to say that they influenced me to "change," they would not be accurate. 

Let me quote from my own article to explain the situation.

"As I have grown in my understanding of the Bible, apologetics, logic, and argumentation I have concluded that to say "God is outside of time," is problematic. I say this because we, as God's creation, don't know what it means to exist outside of time. We cannot understand it. We cannot relate to it - whatever "it" is. So, I've stopped using that phrase in reference to the Triune God. However, I am not saying that God is restricted to time, or that he must operate inside of time the same way we do, or that there is no time related to him. I just don't know what it means to say that "God is outside of time." Of course, God transcends time because He is not limited to it, or bound by it. And, as far as Jesus goes, it makes sense to say that there is a relationship that he has to time since he is a man like us. But how that further relates to God, the Triune Being, I do not know. So again, I have stopped using that phrase in relation to God, and I have changed articles on CARM to reflect this modification of thought."

Now, there is nothing wrong with modifying positions or opinions about things as we continue to study God's word, to debate, and to learn. But my decision to stop using the phrase, is due to the inability to know what it exactly means.  It is something that I have been saying for months now. As a matter of fact, I frequent discord.com where Christians and non-Christians meet in varying forums to discuss all sorts of topics. For several weeks, I've been telling the Christians that I encounter there, that to say "God is outside of time" is problematic because we don't know what it means. I've told them that I have decided not to use that phrase anymore and I don't think they should either because it is problematic to define exactly what it means. It's no big deal. It's simply an issue of logic and clarification.

So, perhaps Mr. Enyart might want to modify his article to reflect more accurately my position. But let me reiterate, the modification of my position on using the phrase has absolutely nothing to do with open theism, my debate with Will Duffy, or his article. 

Why the attack?

There is a section of his article that confuses me. I get the impression he is looking for something to attack without giving me the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps that is the case.  I don't know.  But, considering that he is an open theist and I soundly refute open theism, I can understand the motive for some antagonism.

He speaks in a manner and says "contrary to such philosophy, the Bible repeatedly applies eternity to God." So, his quote is meant to imply that I deny that eternity applies to God. Of course, I don't deny it. God is eternal in his nature. He is without beginning. He says, "Matt goes on to wrongly argue that God cannot cross an infinite amount of time." But that is a misstatement of my position in the article that he's referencing, Did God create Himself found at carm.org/did-god-create-himself. Let me quote myself

"In other words, it is not possible that a cause of something can have a cause that has a cause, etc., forever back in time. This is impossible because it is not possible to cross an infinite amount of time to get to the present. In other words, if causes of causes go on forever in the past, then an infinite amount of time would've had to exist in order to get to the present. But, that is not possible. Since we exist and we are in the present, then we cannot say there was an infinite regression of causes. There has to be a single uncaused cause. That uncaused cause is God.

As you can see, is not an issue of God crossing an infinite amount of time. Since we don't know how God relates to time, nor can we understand his infinite essence, how can we say God crosses an infinite time as Mr. Enyart wants to apply? I don't think he understands the philosophical significance of his criticism against me. Generally speaking, when I discusse the nature of God I am careful. As I've gotten older, I am more cautious back because I don't want to speak of God in a manner that he is not revealed in Scripture or impose a logical conclusion about him that is not accurate.

Then Mr. Enyart goes on to say, "Matt misstated the timing of when he changed his view to obscure the historic significance of its paradigm shift."

To be honest, after reading his statmeent, I wasn't exactly which view of mine he was speaking about.  I assume it is still related to the concept of God existing outside of time.  Nevertheless, the problem is that he assigns to me a sinful motive; namely, deception by hiding facts. He should have asked me.  Not accused me.  Mr. Will Duffy, someone with whom Mr. Enyart is intimately acquainted with still, as far as I know, has my phone number. Will Duffy's number is still in my phone. Why then did Mr. Enyart not call me for clarification? I don't know. But I wish he had.

Anyway, Mr. Enyart continues in his article to attack my usage of the phrase "outside of time" as it relates to God and say I deny God exists outside of time.

Conclusion

But is I have already clarified above, I'm abandoning using that phrase because I cannot sufficiently understand what it actually means because I cannot relate to existing outside of time. Since I cannot relate to it and since I cannot conceive of it, I'm very hesitant to assign that to God. But, like I said, the phrase sounds useful. But I don't think it really is. Of course, to reiterate, I am not denying that God exists in a manner to time that is different than our existence with time. Furthermore, God is not restricted by time the way we are. He is eternal.

I hope this clarifies things.

 

 

 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.