C.S. Lewis: God Outside of Time

God outside of time

Today I return with another installment of “Mind-Blowing Theology From C.S. Lewis”. (Who knows how many more of these there will be at some point in the future? Someone could potentially have a whole blog about C.S. Lewis’s theology…)

On Saturday, I shared an illustration from Mere Christianity that really helped me understand the doctrine of the Trinity.

Today, I want to share another chapter from the book that left me completely mind-boggled and in awe. It was something that had never even crossed my mind before.

This mind-blowing chapter is Chapter 3, “Time and Beyond Time”, in the final section of the book. In this chapter, C.S. Lewis addresses the question of how in the world God can hear all of the prayers in the world at once.

First, an important note that Lewis makes: This idea “is a ‘Christian idea’ in the sense that great and wise Christians have held it and there is nothing in it contrary to Christianity. But it is not in the Bible or any of the creeds. You can be a perfectly good Christian without accepting it, or indeed without thinking of the matter at all”.

And now, on to the chapter.

(C.S. Lewis can say it much better than I can, so if this post is a little quote-heavy, that’s why. )

He starts by identifying the problem:

A man put it to me by saying, ‘I can believe in God…but what I cannot swallow is the idea of him attending to several million human beings who are all addressing Him at the same moment’…what is really at the back of this difficulty is the idea of God having to fit too many things into one moment of time. 

But…is God in time at all? Just because all we know is a life moment by moment, does that mean that is how all things are?

C.S. Lewis thinks not.

Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty…is always the Present for Him.

STOP. Don’t continue reading this post. Read that quote several more times. Then think about it for at least one or two minutes before you continue. Mull over it. The more you think about it, the more it will blow your mind.

Now. Promise me you thought about that a little bit. If you’re more confused than anything, Lewis uses two illustrations that might help you. The second one especially helped me.

The first is that of an author writing a novel.

I write ‘Mary laid down her work; next moment came a knock at the door!’ For Mary, who has to live in the imaginary time of my story, there is no interval between putting down the work and hearing the knock. But I, who am Mary’s maker, do not live in that imaginary time at all. Between writing the first half of that sentence and the second, I might sit for three hours and think steadily about Mary…the hours I spent in doing so would not appear in Mary’s time (the time inside the story) at all.

The second illustration is what really made this concept click in my mind.

If you picture Time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn. We come to the parts of the line one by one: we have to leave A behind before we get to B, and cannot reach C until we leave B behind. God, from above or outside or all round, contains the whole line, and sees it all.

In other words, “with Him it is, so to speak, still 1920 and already 1960”. (remember that this book was written in 1952.)


Here’s one more way of putting it:

…what we call ‘tomorrow’ is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call ‘today’. All the days are ‘Now’ for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him…He knows your tomorrow’s actions…because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you…the moment at which you have done it is already ‘Now’ for Him.

This is the one of those things that just gets more amazing and weird and cool the more you think about it. It was all I could think about for about twenty minutes after I read this chapter.  It’s so cool!!!

What do you think? Do you find this as cool as I do? Does it blow your mind?? Tell me in the comments below!!

♥ love, grace ♥


9 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis: God Outside of Time

  1. castlesandpens13 says:

    THIS PART DEFINITELY BLEW MY MIND, GRACE. I literally sat down and thought about everything after reading it. I definitely appreciated the 2nd illustration more, it was a concept I had not ever considered. I just don’t know how Lewis even thought of it, but it definitely makes sense. Time is not relevant to God as it is relevant to us. That is why people always say “the world wasn’t really created in 7 days as we know it. 7 days to God could mean just about anything.” I am so glad to see this post! I can’t wait for more!


    • graceevalyn says:

      I’m glad someone else was as in awe of this as I was! It just…wow. Every time I think about I am just completely awestruck by how amazing and mysterious God’s ways are. Glad you liked the post!

      Liked by 1 person

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