Christ and Time

From this (Hellenistic) standpoint, in so far as the need of man for revelation and redemption is to be satisfied, it can take place only in the direction of timeless mysticism, which thinks in spatial concepts.

If today, in the prevailing attitude, the radical contrast between Hellenistic metaphysics and Christian revelation is often completely lost, this is due to the fact that very early the Greek conception of time supplanted the Biblical one, so that down through the history of doctrine to the present day there can be traced a great misunderstanding, upon the basis of which that is claimed as “Christian” which in reality is Greek …

The first apostasy from the Primitive Christian understanding of time … comes … in Gnosticism.

… [I]n all Gnostic systems the following features go hand in hand:

1) Rejection of the Old Testament, both in its explanation of history as the creative action of God and in its claim that the history of Israel constitutes a redemptive history.

2) Docetism, which is not exhaustively presented in the theory that has given the name to this heresy, the theory according to which Jesus possessed only the semblance of a body but had no actual human body; its chief distinguishing mark is rather to be seen in its rejection of the judgment that redemptive history passes on the quite ordinary particular historical event that occurred in the incarnate Christ, and that includes the offensively ordinary fact of the death of the cross. Thus here also we have to do with the denial of the redemptive significance of an event that occurred in time.

3) Rejection of the Primitive Christian eschatological expectation, who characteristic distinction in terms of time between the present and the future age is replaced by the Greek metaphysical distinction between this world and the timeless Beyond.

Oscar Cullman, Christ and Time, 54-56

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