Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Christian Sci-Fi's Misunderstanding of Time in Heaven

Time, there never seems to be enough of it, true, but what if there were no time at all? If you’ve read Christian Science Fiction, you may have noticed a few books that talk about time in heaven, or rather the lack of time in heaven. I’ve also heard some preachers who have latched onto this idea. The best I can tell, this concept is the result of combining Einstein’s theory of relativity with a very literal interpretation of the phrase “there should be time no longer” from Revelation 10:6. As some Christian Sci-Fi authors portray this concept, in heaven, the forth dimension of time-space will no longer exist. We’ll just be floating around in some kind of eternal bliss or something like that.

Now, I can’t tell you exactly what heaven is like, but I don’t think the Bible supports this concept. First, in context, Revelation 10:6 is talking about something else. When John penned the words, he wouldn’t have been thinking of Einstein’s theory of relativity. If we consider the passage with the verses around it, it appears that the angel is swearing that time is up, not that time no longer exists. For anyone who hasn’t accepted Christ by this time, there is no longer a possibility of redemption. The time of the final judgment has come. Verse 7 tells us that in those days the “mystery of God should be finished.”

But, just because Revelation 10:6 doesn’t support the claim doesn’t mean that we can completely rule out the concept. The sun will be gone. We’ll have one eternal day. Those things could be explained by the disappearance of time. We must consider whether we have any indication that time will still exist. In fact, we do. Revelation 8:1 tells us that there will be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. We can’t have silence for a length of time if there is no time, but perhaps this is before time is eliminated.

That itself presents a problem for the concept. Before and after are concepts that require time. If heaven ever had time, but will later exist without time, then heaven must co-exist with itself as a place with time and a place without time, creating a paradox. Worse, we must co-exist with ourselves. We would then currently be both here on time bound earth and the timeless heaven. That too is a paradox, but God is a God of paradoxes, so that alone may not be sufficient proof.

Music and distance provide some proof. Distance has no relevance if there is no time, yet the Holy City has dimensions specified in the Bible. Music will be in heaven as we sing praises to the Lamb, but what is music without tempo? For music to exist, we must have time.

The Tree of Life, provides proof also. Revelation 22:2 tells us of a Tree of Life that grows on either side of the great river. It has twelve kinds of fruit and will have a different fruit each month. That wouldn’t be possible if time doesn’t exist. I don’t know if we’ll have need of time clocks in heaven, but can’t you just imagine sitting on the banks of river and someone asks, “What time is it?” and you look up and say, “Well, the apples are almost gone and the peaches are getting ripe.”