In the beginning


#1

Is the ultimate, absolute “beginning” mentioned in scripture?


#2

Why wouldn’t it be Gen 1:1?


#3

I seen “the beginning” of Genesis 1:1 as well as “the beginning” of John 1:1 as the absolute beginning, that is the beginning of time itself. Nothing existed or happened before the beginning of time ---- because there WAS no “before”.


#4

“In the beginning God created” i.e. sans creation there was only God. God is the “ultimate, absolute beginning”.


#5

But is there any way to prove that from scripture?

I’m particularly interested in John 1:1.

Is the definite article {“The Beginning”) used there?

If it is, would that point to an absolute beginning?


#6

It seems that the definite article is used in John 1:1

bible.org/seriespage/prologue-john-11-18

For those more famiiar with Greek than I am, would I be correct in taking the definite article here as evidence that this verse does actually point to the absolute beginning?


#7

Michael,

Before I can attempt an answer I have to ask what you mean by “absolute beginning”? Beginning of what? Of time? Of creation? Of God? That would help.

“Beginning” in Jo 1.1 has the article, but that doesn’t prove anything philosophically about time per se. It just means that John as a specific beginning in mind. Unfortunately he doesn’t elaborate what ‘beginning’ he has in mind. If Gen. 1.1 is in his head, then he’s likely just referring to the beginning of God’s creative activity (or the beginning of creation). And that much alone seems compatible with a temporally eternal past (to God’s own existence) or to the creation/beginning of time itself with Gen. 1.1.

Personally, I think that whatever might be the temporal status of God’s experience sans creation it matters little since creation, for I think that since creation God’s experience is temporal and ongoing. What I’m skeptical about is God’s atemporality being used as a means to explain providence. I don’t think that works at all.

Tom


#8

As a process theologian, I suppose that would be of interest to you.

Have you ever considered the similarities between Mormonism, and your own line of thought?

You have God being co-eternal with time (and space?)

Mormons view time, space, matter, spirit, and intelligence (or intelligences) as eternal.

I’m interested in whether it can be scripturally proven that there was an absolute beginning, that Christ was there with The Father, and that no one (and nothing) but God was there.

Is it your view that this can’t be proven?

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


#9

Hi Mike,

For the record, I’m not a process theologian.


Michael: I’m interested in whether it can be scripturally proven that there was an absolute beginning, that Christ was there with The Father, and that no one (and nothing) but God was there. Is it your view that this can’t be proven?

Tom: I believe that only the triune God exists necessarily and that he brought all else into being contingently. I’m not a process theist. I think there is a beginning to all non-God reality. But I’m not convinced “time” is an “entity” in the sense we mean when we talk about created entities. I don’t think time requires space. It’s perfectly possible that God created immaterial spirits (angelic beings) prior to the physical cosmos, in which case time precede the material universe. Do I think this can be PROVEN Scripturally? I doubt it. I mean, I’m satisfied that the Bible teaches the contingency of all else beside God. But is it PROVABLE? Do you need proof?

If you’re asking if creation had a beginning, I’d agree that it does. I think the triune God is a fully realized personal being of love and unsurpassed beauty and satisfaction sans creation. But if you ask me if I think believing this requires me to lump “time” in with the created order so that time itself comes into being and God exists atemporally sans creation, I’d say no, I don’t see that at all. If this means I have something in common with Mormons, then I’d say so what? If you think God is timeless does that mean you’re a closet Muslim because you have this belief in common with Muslims?

Tom


#10

You were the one who brought it up.

I’d like to know if that can be proven from the Bible (and for the purpose of this discussion, you can forget about time–I didn’t bring it up, and I’m not interested in it here.)


#11

I brought up time because your original question was vague. I only wanted to understand your question. Sorry. I’ll leave you to it.

Tom


#12

Why leave?

I told you I’m not interested in time here, and you should understand the question better now that we’ve got that out of the way.

Can the contingency of all else besides God be proven from the Bible?

That’s the question (and I’m sorry you felt it necessary to bring up the sbject of time, and that I keep confussing process theology with open theism.)


#13

I don’t think there’s any one verse or passage that explicitly claims the ontological independence of God from creation. You may be better off building a case for it based on several passages and theological reasons for thinking such independence best avoids problems inherent in the process view.

Tom


#14

In the beginning was God.

**Colossians 1:16-18 **
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

There was neither nothing or something else there, only God. A very difficult understanding for we tend comprehend the world we live in as digital; that is, we tend to think either there was something or nothing there, it’s either on or off, here or there but the fact is, there was neither quantity, nor quality, nor timelessness or time, only God. All that is and isn’t, exists by Him, through Him, and in Him held together.


#15

I’m not interested in “the process view,” in “open theism”, or in whether or not you see “time” as a part of creation.

Why can’t you take me at my word on that here?

Do you think I have some kind of agenda, or do you have one of your own?

Let’s just keep it simple, and talk about the JW’s and the Mormons.

The JW’s believe that God was alone until He created Christ, and everything that was created after that was created through Christ.

The Mormons believe that God (who may or may not have had a begining in some “other universe,” but had no beginning in “this universe”) and a Female couterpart (who also had no beginning “in this universe”) were alone (except perhaps for some eternal, unorganized “stuff”) until they gave birth to Christ (as the first of all the “spirit children” who would become men, angels, and fallen angels.)

Both of these views pre-suppose that the beginning spoken of in John 1 wasn’t really the absolute beginning of everything.

The Word wasn’t with God until He was created (or born.)

And in the Mormon view, a lot of things weren’t made.

The "“Heavenly Mother” was just there (before the beginning), and the “spirit children” (including Jesus) were all procreated–not made.

(How literally they mean this, I don’t know–and I don’t think they do.)

I know this sounds more like science fiction than religion, but it is what they believe, and I’m interested in whether it can be definitively rulled out by the data we’re given in scripture.

My question is whether in can be scripturally proven that there was an absolute beginning, that Jesus was already there, and that any (visible or invisible) substances, or conscious entities that currently exist were created (produced, originated, not just “fashioned,” or “organized”) by God through Him.

The difficulties I see are with the clause “every thing that was made” in John 1, the vagary of the word translated “created” in Col. 1:15, and the meaning of phrases like “thrones, powers, rulers, and authorities” (in verse 16.)

I would like to know if any of those last four words (in Greek) are feminine in gender?

If theres any way to determine whether these words speak of conscious entities (like Obama, and Hilary), or only abstract offices (like President, and Secretary of State)?

Whether there’s any way to determine if John 1:1 actually speaks of an absolute beginning?

And whether there’s any word in the Hebrew or Greek scriptures that clearly speaks of creating something (in the sense of originating it, and not just in the sense of a carpenter making a chair.)

These are the questions I’d like some help with here (and I don’t see that they have anything to do with process theology, or open theism–unless you see some connection?)

Could you (or anyone) please help me?


#16

I have no idea what you’re talking about Michael. You said drop the issue of ‘time’ so I dropped it. Now I’ve just tried to answer your question about God’s ontological independence from creation. I don’t think there’s any one knock-down verse or passage that “proves” this independence. But that doesn’t mean Mormon claims are equally as valid as claims about God’s ontological independence from creation.

I agree it’s science fiction.

Of course the Mormon and JW rubbish can be ruled out. It’s not in the Bible.

A very good case can be made for such a beginning, but it might be less than the absolute proof you want. It’s a bit like UR. It’s there in Scripture and we’re justified in believing it. But it’s less than absolutely proved.

Tom


#17

I thought you were thinking of time (and perhaps other things) when you wrote of

Be that as it may, I’m not interested in the process view (or problems inherent in it) here.

So you’re saying there’s no positive scriptural evidence that Christ wasn’t created, or born of Deity at some point in time?

You’re saying that the evidence of omission is all the evidence we have (and the only evidence that UR is true)?

Is that right Tom?

Is that really what you’re saying (and is that really the best we can do)?

Anyone?


#18

Michael: Be that as it may, I’m not interested in the process view (or problems inherent in it) here.

Tom: I thought you were interested in the ontological independence of God from creation. That is, I thought you wanted to know if the Bible teaches divine ‘aseity’, the notion that God is self-existent independent of any creation. I think it does teach this. But I don’t think it’s found laying on the surface of a few simple verses to be picked up easily and obviously.

The “problems inherent in the process view” don’t have anything to do with “time” in my view. They have to do with the idea that God’s existence and perfections depend upon the existence of a non-God world…so God, of inherent necessity, creates and relates to some creation. So divine aseity is denied.

Quite the opposite. I think that if Christ is divine personhood incarnate, then that person wasn’t created, i.e., didn’t come into existence like other created entities, but is everything perfect deity is—eternal, uncreated, etc. John 1 and Col. 1.

Michael: You’re saying that the evidence of omission is all the evidence we have (and the only evidence that UR is true)? Is that right Tom?

Tom: I’m saying if JW’s and Mormons wish to claim biblical status for their beliefs they’ll have to do the work of arguing it from the Bible, and there’s no chance of that. I’m then saying that the deity of Christ (and the ‘uncreated’ status of his person that goes with that) IS defendable in scriptural terms. Jo 1 and Col 1 are excellent, and as obvious as it’s gonna get. But one has to argue the point grammatically, etc. It’s not self-evident.

BUT…you also seem to be asking about whether divine being has always existed alongside some created order or whether there’s an absolute beginning to creation. This question is separate from the divine status of Jesus. In other words, Jesus might be divine and God be necessarily creative (i.e., God always, necessarily, exists along some created order brought into being through the Son), or Jesus may be divine and God NOT be necessarily creative.

Which question are you interested in? The divine status of JESUS (Is he created or uncreated?) or the status of all created being as ‘necessary’ vs ‘contingent’?

Tom


#19

The Mormons have additional scriptures that they consider equally inspired.

Are you saying that that claim can’t be positively disproved from the scriptures we have?

Please stop telling me what I “seem to be asking.”

You “seem” to be thinking ahead to questions about time being part of some created order, and existing alongside God.

That (and what you call “the problems inherent in the process view”) may be of interest to you, but it’s not what interests me here.

1.) I’m interested in whether it can be scripturally proven that ALL matter, energy, and physical and spiritual entities were created by God through Christ

2.) I’m asking if there’s any Greek or Hebrew word that means “created” (in the sense of creation ex-nihlo, or at least in the sense of not being made out of pre-existing material.)

3.) I’m asking if there’s any passage that clearly takes us back to the absolute beginning, or (if “the problems inherent in the process view” make you uncomfortable with the term “absolute beginning”) if there’s at least some scriptural way to prove that nothing (and no one) pre-dates Christ.

Can you (Tom) forget about “the process view” (and whatever it is I “seem to be asking”) long enough to answer these questions (that I am asking)?

Could anyone here help me answer them?


#20

Sorry to be so frustrating. I’m not sure why you and I have such a difficult time engaging each other. I hope others jump in and are able to help.

As to your (1), yes, I think John 1 and Col. 1 show that nothing which came into existence did so apart from the creative agency of God. I think that’s unquestionable biblically speaking. If Col. 1 doesn’t count as the kind of “proof” you’re looking for, then there isn’t any such proof in Scripture.

As to your (2), some make a distinction between the Heberw bara’ (“in the beginning God ‘created’…”) and 'asa ("…let us ‘make’ man in our…"), and other verses where the former is thought to mean “bring into being” (something like ex nihilo) while the latter means “make” or “construct” from previously existing material. But the words are used rather interchangeably in Gen. 1, so the distinction isn’t quite valid.

As to your (3), there’s nothing uncomfortable about the term “absolute beginning” except the vagueness with which you started out employing it. I think Jo 1 and Col. 1 do a sufficient job of attributing the creation of everything that has ever come into existence to the personal agency and will of God. Nothing that has ever come into existence has come into existence outside that agency. Furthermore, it looks to me that these same passages preclude the eternal existence of that which is not God existing alongside God. As for Christ being predated by anything, if Christ is God the Logos incarnate then the Logos shares all those attributes we’re attributing to God as being eternal, responsible for creation, etc., in which case he’s not predated by anything. If Christ is not the Logos incarnate, then he came into existence entirely around 5 BC, in which case everything that existed before his birthday in 5 BC predated him. So…whatever scriptural reasons you have for believing Jesus is divine would be reasons to believe that nothing “pre-dates” him. By definition, nothing can “predate” what exists eternally and necessarily.

Later,
Tom