In Francis Schaeffer’s “Genesis In Space and Time” (IVP, 1972), he was remarkably clear in stating that the Trinity lived in durative incipient loving relationship that shattered all traditional understandings of the ‘nunc stans’ (eternal now) as foundational to what it means to be God.
That fact is all the more significant as he was committed to the historic confession that the Scriptures were without error in all that it affirmed in every area that it spoke. That includes religious truth, the basis of our morality and history and the cosmos. His view of inerrancy was the reasonable affirmation that God speaks to man in propositional language, not exhaustively but truthfully. A confession that is seemingly widely shunned today.
In what follows are some relevant citation’s form his book that show that he understood the relational and incipient nature of the life of the Trinity before any other Biblical author’s of today.
“Before the Beginning”
Although Genesis begins, ‘In the beginning.’ that does not mean that there was not anything before that. In John 17:24 Jesus prays to God the Father, saying, ‘Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.’ Jesus says thy God the Father loved him prior to the creation of all else. And in John 17:5 Jesus asks the Father to glorify him, Jesus himself, ‘with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.’
There is, therefore, something that reaches back into eternity-back before the phrase ‘in the beginning.’ Christ existed, and he had glory with the Father, and he was loved by the Father before ‘in the beginning.’ … Thus, before ‘in the beginning’ something other than a static situation existed. A choice was made and that choice shows forth thought and will. ‘ ….
We are faced, therefore, with a very interesting question: When did history begin” If one is thinking with the modern concept of the space-time continuum, then it is quite obvious that time and history did not exist before ‘in the beginning.’ But if we are thinking of history in contrast to an eternal, philosophic other or in contrast to a static eternal, then history began before Genesis 1:1″
[There is a decided knock against the Greek notion of inscrutability in a transcendent “eternal now” in that!]
We must choose our words carefully here of course. How shall we talk about the situation before ‘in the beginning’? To avoid confusion, I have chosen the word ‘sequence’ in contrast to the word ‘time’ as used in the concept of the space-time continuum. It will remind us that something was there before ‘in the beginning’ and that it was more than a static eternal.
After creation, God worked into time and communicated knowledge to man who was in time. And since he did this, it was quite obvious that it is not the same to God before creation and after creation. The Scripture pictures this before ‘in the beginning’ as something that can be stated. While we cannot exhaust the meaning of what is involved, we can know it truly. It is a reasonable concept, one that we can discuss.
This subject in not merely theoretical. What is involved is the reality of the personal God in all eternity in contrast to the philosophic other or impersonal everything which is frequently the twentieth-century theologian’s concept of God. What is involved is the reality of the personal God in contrast to a theoretical unmoved mover, or man’s purely subjective thought pro[j]ection. There is more here than contentless, religious truth achieved through some sort of existential leap. Consequently, when we read, ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,’ we are not left with something hung in a vacuum: Something existed before creation and that something was personal and not static; the Father loved the Son; there was a plan; there was communication; and promises were made prior to the creation of the heavens and the earth.
This whole conception is rooted in the reality of the Trinity. Without the Trinity, Christianity would not have the answers that modern man needs. As I have said elsewhere, Jean Paul Sartre will pointed out the basic philosophic problem that faces us: the fact that something – rather than nothing – is there.”