We have seen how eternal life has a double meaning, how it can be understood in either of two ways or both together. In Chapter 3, we saw that eternal life may be understood as an everlasting eschatological life or as an eternal life in this life. The two are compatible, logically and spiritually. Beyond the compatibility of everlasting eschatological life and eternal life in this life, however, there may be a more intimate relationship between life after death and an eternal life when the eternal is understood to be the eternal simpliciter. The eternal simpliciter is the timeless eternal without qualification. It is free from time in the radical sense that temporal qualifications, or temporal predicates, cannot be applied to it, so that we cannot even speak of events or actions occurring in such an eternal existence. This sense of the eternal contrasts with the sense of the eternal as being free from the conditions of time, the sense that applies to eternal life in this life. An eternal life in this life, free from the conditions of time, is embedded in a human temporal life; and the thoughts and actions of such a life, though free from the conditions of time, are yet in time and so take temporal predicates (like ‘now’ or ‘before’ or ‘when she saw he needed help’). The eternal simpliciter, on the other hand, is not and cannot be embedded in the temporal.
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