(See 'Letters To Malcolm') CS lewis said, because mankind is by definition finite, that we shall always be in a situation of successive time, with the present becoming past. In 'The Problem Of Pain' he says that time in Heaven may not be so much like a linear line but have thickness like a plain as well. I'm a bit confused by that analogy as that still inplies length...does he mean we will just experience 'a lot of things' within time or, erm, well, help! Great guy CS Lewis but am a little confused on 'how' he thought time would behave in Heaven.


2 Answers 2


As I understand it, he is saying that our future perception may be "expanded", while still being qualitatively the same - in particular, not approaching the very different perception of time that God has. (We experience time as a succession of cause and effect; we can remember the past but can only conjecture about the future. On the other hand, God sees all times at once.)

In the letter, he talks about the thicker line as a suggestion that we could experience a "wider" present than we currently do, by being able to see and understand more things at once. However, we are still on the line, and so we have the same inability to see the future as we do now. This matches the standard account of angelic knowledge: angels' intellect is like our own, but better, so that they can make more accurate deductions about the future, but still have to deduce rather than perceiving it directly. In the same way, angels are better than us at noticing things and in the general acuity of their senses, but they still fall short of God's ability to see things as they truly are, as opposed to their being mediated by the senses.

Part of Lewis's thought in the letter is that the future "resurrection of the body" implies that we will have bodies (and senses, and minds) that are still basically the same as now. They are perfected, but are still not divine. Scholastic philosophers argued that our perception of time in heaven might be different for several reasons -

  1. We couldn't measure the progression of time from our physiological processes (getting hungry or tired).
  2. With no celestial bodies to look at, we can't use them to measure hours, days, seasons, or years.
  3. The same goes for measuring time by the decay of objects (eg, watching an apple go rotten). That doesn't happen any more.
  4. The "speed of thought" may be different, and in any case is incommensurable with what's going on in the minds of others. You can spend an amount of time thinking about something, but did it "really" take ten minutes or ten years?

This seems to match the Lewis conception of the thicker line. There is still a succession of moments, but we may perceive things differently during those moments.

  • Aha. Sounds very frustrating if I might say so. A bit too 'endless' whereas I think I'd prefer a finale. Ah well, God's the boss, he knows what he's doing better than I do...
    – Sehnsucht
    Aug 9, 2013 at 17:28
  • there is a section on the future in the Screwtape Letters, where the future is described as being the thing least like eternity. Surely then Lewis didn't see us looking forward whilst in Heaven? For the most "temporal" part of time to continue? But then, can it end- if the present is still so and the past also...
    – Sehnsucht
    Aug 12, 2013 at 11:43
  • @ThomasJennings I think his concern in Screwtape is people worrying too much about the uncertain and dangerous future, which wouldn't be a problem in Heaven. It's also possible that his ideas developed between Screwtape and Malcolm.
    – James T
    Aug 12, 2013 at 13:14
  • Ah, yes, I suppose. I suppose I'm not being very achedemic here...I'm desperatly chasing down lewis material that might suggest the future will end because, frankly, I'd hate if we were literally stuck in an 'endless time' if time remains the same as now. How frustrating- even if you were in a place of utter bliss, you'd never reach a completetion, the road would go on forever and you'd be part of a never ending story. Sends shivers up my spine- and, as it does, I assume that I've got it wrong. God surely overjoys you- doesn't horrify you! Best day ever + unending =
    – Sehnsucht
    Aug 12, 2013 at 13:35
  • @ThomasJennings Do remember that just because Lewis might think something, doesn't mean it's true.
    – James T
    Aug 12, 2013 at 14:34

There are at least two solid Biblical scriptures which prove that time continues in heaven. First in Revelation 19 Jesus returns in the second coming riding a white horse, we know that at that time the saved are taken to heaven for it is written

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. " (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

The very next verse after Jesus return in Revelation 19, Revelation 20:1-2 says

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

Here we see a time element, a thousand years.

Also there is another verse that tells us that the seven day week will continue even in heaven for it is written

For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 66:22-23)

Herein is evidence that the seventh-day Sabbath will still be kept even in heaven. A comprehensive Christian site about this can be found here - http://www.sabbathtruth.com/

Hope that helps!

  • Thanks, it helps a lot. Though it 'seems' rather depressing to think of eternity as literally endless time. I can't imagine that not being frustrating or boring but then, I am only man...Perhaps I don't see it as it will really be?
    – Sehnsucht
    Aug 10, 2013 at 14:03
  • Don't worry brother Thomas heaven will not be boring at all for it is written "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9) Imagine a world with no more pain, suffering, death or sin. A world where you may see Jesus and the holy angels face to face. A world that is filled with love, kindness, selflessness. We may be able to explore the depths of creation and worlds that mankind has never seen. With each new passing day our happiness will only increase, it will be worth it!
    – HelloWorld
    Aug 11, 2013 at 1:09
  • Revelation 10:6 is translated in different ways. Most say there will be no more delay. But the KJV says: "And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer." This offers the possibility that in Heaven, time is no more. Jan 3, 2017 at 15:43

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