A Timeless God? A Critical Appraisal of John Swinton's Theology of Time and Memory


  • Wilko van Holten De Forensische Zorgspecialisten
  • Martin Walton Protestant Theological University




time, memory, John Swinton, divine timelessness, dementia, disability, personal identity, conceptual coherence, language-games, heart


In two recent publications the practical theologian John Swinton has given extensive attention to the concepts of time and memory. He considers in what way these have a bearing on how, in Western culture, we view and treat people with disabilities or other kinds of impairment. The authors of this article argue that despite the many pastoral merits of Swinton's thinking on these subjects, his theology of time and memory is unsatisfactory as far as his interpretation of the relevant terms is concerned. Especially his appeal to the doctrine of divine timelessness which is shown to be flawed and unnecessary for his overall argument. A rejoinder to this article is presented by John Swinton at https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.40527 and also in the print issue (HSCC 8.1).

Author Biographies

Wilko van Holten, De Forensische Zorgspecialisten

Wilko van Holten is a mental health chaplain with De Forensische Zorgspecialisten, a forensic mental health hospital in Amersfoort, the Netherlands , and a research fellow at Protestant Theological University in the Netherlands.. His research interest is in religious delusions and the theology of chaplaincy care.

Martin Walton, Protestant Theological University

Martin Walton is Professor of Chaplaincy Care at the Protestant Theological University in the Netherlands. He chairs the academic advisory board of the Dutch chaplaincy association, Vereniging van Geestelijk VerZorgers (VGVZ: https://vgvz.nl/). His research topics include intercultural and interreligious chaplaincy care and conceptualizations of chaplaincy and spirituality.


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How to Cite

van Holten, W., & Walton, M. (2020). A Timeless God? A Critical Appraisal of John Swinton’s Theology of Time and Memory. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 8(1), 87–101. https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.40137

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