Complex Question

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JRG39402, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. JRG39402

    JRG39402
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    Maybe no one can answer this, or answer it where I could understand (I'm only a senior in high school). Does God "change his mind"? God is always the same, but didn't someone convinced him to not destroy the rest of humanity? I may have my theology messed up so it's ok to correct me.
     
  2. skypair

    skypair
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    JRG,

    Your question broaches the issue of "sovereignty" of God. Many will say that God is totally sovereign -- His will is always accomplished. Others the God allows man to be sovereign over his own life and the lives of those under his authority. Intriguing question, right?

    The answer is plainly (IMO) seen. If God were totally sovereign, we would be living in the "kingdom of God." That is, there would be no sin, death, or hell. Are we?

    Indeed not! There will be such a day -- in the New Earth, Rev 21-22. As a matter of fact, I believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will not be a trinity then and that man, likewise, will have the mind of God, not merely of Christ (per 1Cor 2:16). But right now we are made in God's image and have freedom to make choices that God would not, right?

    Therefore, when God foreknew all that would transpire throughout the ages, He did change His mind depending on our decisions and our prayers.

    skypair
     
    #2 skypair, Aug 23, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2006
  3. Marcia

    Marcia
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    No, God does not change his mind. To change his mind would mean either that
    1. God did not know the future and was surprised by something so he had to change his mind
    2. God is not perfect and made a mistake, so he had to change his mind

    When Abraham, for example, was praying to God about Sodom and not to destroy it if so many righteous people were in the city and God seems to be changing his mind, this only shows Abraham's pleading with God and God's mercy. God knew in advance exactly how Abraham would pray and how many He would save out of Sodom.

    Open Theism claims God changes his mind because he does not have full knowledge of all the future. I started a thread on this not long ago but the discussion did not go on for too long.

    There are some good books refuting the claims of Open Theism -- see
    God's Lesser Glory by Bruce Ware
    The Battle for God by Norman Geisler (addresses the claim that God changes)
    God Under Fire (various articles by a bunch of people)
    No Other God by John Frame


    Also, see this link
    http://www.tmch.net/divrepent.htm
     
  4. J.D.

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    Nothing takes God by surprise and God does not change his mind. Your example can be called an "anthropomorphism". That is, God often, and I think only in the O.T., symbolically takes on the characteristics of a man, in order to convey truth to man's earthy understanding. Jesus said "If I have spoken unto you of earthly things, you don't understand, how shall you understand, if I speak to you of heavenly things?"

    God has determined the end from the beginning, and everything in between the beginning and the end is just the means by which He accomplishes His will.
     
  5. Ransom

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    When Abraham, for example, was praying to God about Sodom and not to destroy it if so many righteous people were in the city and God seems to be changing his mind, this only shows Abraham's pleading with God and God's mercy. God knew in advance exactly how Abraham would pray and how many He would save out of Sodom.

    Indeed, if you read the story closely, you notice that the two angels that were with God went on ahead to Sodom to rescue Lot and his family, before Abraham even started pleading. Notwithstanding those negotiations, God already knew that there weren't even ten righteous people in Sodom. Abraham's pleas didn't change his mind.
     
  6. Brother Jeremy Slone

    Brother Jeremy Slone
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    Jeremiah 18:8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

    18:10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

    You could say God changed his mind. But I say God said this and will not change. He said this for a warning to man not to reveal that he doesn't know what man will do but rather by telling this some men will stay the course as far as good and some will turn from their evil.

    Hes a God of Judgement and A God of Mercy. Sometimes he executes judgement and sometimes he grants mercy according to his own will. His will doesn't change but mans actions do.
     
  7. StraightAndNarrow

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    I believe that placing any restrictions on what God can or can't do isn't consistent with His nature. If He is Sovereign and omnipotent He can do as He chooses. He is not restricted by our infinitesimal knowledge of His true nature and ways.
     
  8. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    About a week ago, a similar thread asked "Did God Make a Mistake?"

    My post on that thread answers the OP in this one:

    Not original with me:

    When man repents he changes his will.
    When God repents, he wills a change.



    First heard from R-Charles Blair, a Western Kentucky Pastor and Theologian:

    "Did it ever occur to you that nothng ever occurs to God?"

    Got never has a new thought, for that would represent a change in Him.

    Malachi 3:6: "I am the the Lord; I change not..."

    Numbers 23:19: "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor the son of man, that he should repent..."

    Any verse which speaks of God repenting must be interpreted in the light of clear, unequivocal scripture which says he does not repent and does not change.
     
  9. Brother Jeremy Slone

    Brother Jeremy Slone
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    Amen Tom Butler, I just thought of Mal. 3:6 and see you already put it on here with another good scripture in numbers.

    Like how you cleared up repent. I should say that the word evil that I used also should be looked at in the light of its meaning, not evil like man but evil as in the harm or judgement. ......BJS
     
  10. Pipedude

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    Oh, I think you got it backwards :eek:

    The biblical approach would be to say that Any verse that says he does not repent must be interpreted in light of the clear scripture which says he does.

    Isn't that biblical?

    Or are they both biblical?

    Quoting the Bible can become so confusing. What we need is a THEOLOGIAN to tell us which verses to grab and which ones to scuttle.

    (But don't say "scuttle." The little people won't understand. Better to appeal to "the wider context of Scripture" or some such.) (Hope that helps.)
     
  11. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    I like my way better, but have at it. Interpret Malachi 3:6 "I am the Lord, I change not.." to show that he does.

    Then Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man, that he should lie; nor a son of man that he should repent." Remember the same God who doesn't lie says he doesn't repent.

    I've given my explanation of God's repenting. Looking forward to yours.
     
    #11 Tom Butler, Aug 29, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2006
  12. Pipedude

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    If you take an expression like "I change not" and interpret it willy nilly, it implies a static, timeless, impersonal "god" such as Tillich's "ground of all being." Instead, we limit the force of the expression so that it conforms to the revelation recorded in Scripture; that is, a personal being who thinks, feels, and wills.

    There's a sense in which God repents, and a sense in which he doesn't. The latter, however, doesn't trump the former. So when the Bible affirms the former, you're a lot better off believing it than scuttling it in deference to the strictures of systematic theology.

    Eternality is a big idea. Trying to think of God as though we were equal to the task ends up making us look like a cannibal in a top hat. It is better to take each passage as it's written, in its own context, and handle the systematic theology problems with "I don't completely understand it; in fact, there's a lot of things I don't completely understand."

    There's a line somewhere in Augustine's Confessions saying that the question "What was God doing before he created the world?" might be answered "He was preparing Hell for philosophers who ask stupid questions." That's not verbatim and I don't even think that it's Augustine's own answer, but it does highlight the fact that eternality doesn't scale down well. We can't think that way, and we'd best not try.
     
  13. Ransom

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    StraightAndNarrow said:

    I believe that placing any restrictions on what God can or can't do isn't consistent with His nature.

    Can God fail?
     
  14. Marcia

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    A God that does not change does not imply an impersonal being. Not changing means perfection and completion. A God who changes means that he was a lacking something before and now has it, or that he was perfect before but then lost some of his perfection. Someone who is perfect doesn't need to grow or change.

    Change also implies moving from moment to moment so it would make God temporal.

    Change would also mean there is no changeless Being by which change is measured.

    We don't need systematic theology to run to, just common sense. God repenting clearly is God grieving over something, or man's view of what God is doing. How could God be sorry or regret? It would mean he is not perfect or did not know what would happen. This is the open theist view.

    Either the Bible is God's word or it is not. If it is, it will make sense since God did not give us nonsense. Therefore, we look at each passage but also in the context of the whole Bible. There's nothing wrong with trying to understand God's revealed attributes; to just say we can't understand God or eternality is a copout, imo. Just because we can't totally understand something doesn't mean we dismiss it out of hand.
     
  15. thjplgvp

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    Just my thoughts

    Marcia,

    You have made a couple statements that I cannot agree with and I am not an open deist. To say that God knows all is truly a true statement for there is nothing that God does not know. But to insist that he did not allow for man to petition him for change is to presume that we know or can know the mind of God which scripture clearly tells us is not so, Is. 55:8-9.

    To say that all of God’s word makes sense is also a misnomer since prophecy can only be interpreted as our best ‘guess’ until it is fulfilled. Have we forgotten that Daniel could not understand Jeremiah until he was afforded direct intervention from God through an angel or have we forgotten that Peter said that Paul’ writings were hard to understand. Certainly God did not give us nonsense but since the Word of God was written through inspiration it is logical that some things will not be known until God reveals them to us even though they are in scripture.

    To debate scripture and theology is helpful for all of us but when we make dogmatic statements that we know what God thinks or how God is going to act in a given situation is assuming way too much on our part. Malachi 3:6 is often quoted in this debate but is God changing his mind or is the context more in line with God’s promise to Abraham. God gave Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David a specific promise and no matter what Israel did God’s promise was ultimately going to be fulfilled. It was not a matter of changing his mind but a matter of God fulfilling his unconditional promise.

    In the on going debate of does God or does God not change his mind, who are we to presume that we know what God allowed for or did not allow for?

    Suppose the underlying question from the OP involves God’s presupposed will in his life or another’s are we saying that situation is set in stone and God will not change. In 2 Kings 20:1 are you saying that God lied in verse one, “set thine house in order for thou shalt die and not live” or did God speak truth and allowed Hezekiah’s prayer to change his mind in 2 Kings 20:5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.

    thjplgvp

    :type:


     
  16. Tom Butler

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    I don't recall giving an interpretation of "I change not." I simply cited the passage. I recognize that there are many passages that are subject to more than one interpretation. Malachi 3:6 is not one of them. It is so clear and unequivocal that any other passages seeming to show God's changing must be interpreted in the light of it. Hezekiah's 15 more years of life is an example.

    I submit that Numbers 23:16 is another clear, unquivocal passage that speaks for itself.
     
  17. Marcia

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    I don't see how praying means that we presume to know the mind of God.

    Not totally understanding and making sense are not mutually exlcusive. By making sense, I mean that it is not nonsensical or muddle-headed. God does not give muddle-headed information.



    Please explain how I am doing this. I don't see it at all!



    God does not change his mind: I said that. I don't get what you are saying here. How do I disagree with this?

    I am not clear on your question. If God changes his mind, the only reasons for that are: He did not know what would happen; he made a mistake; man knows more about the future than God. All of these are impossible, or God is not God. i am saying God does not change his mind. I'm confused as to what you are saying here.

    Of course, God did not lie. He's saying the consequence fo not setting his house in order is death. I don't think Hezekiah changed God's mind, do you? If you think so, it must mean one of these:
    1. God did not know Hezekiah would ask him for extra years and so God had to change his plans for Hezekiah
    2. God thought Hezekiah should die but realized that was a mistake on His part, and so He gave him extra years.

    I reject those 2 consequences.

    God knew Hezekiah would ask for extra years and God knew he would give them. Hezekiah did not change God's mind, but God allowed H. to plead for extra years.

    Prayer doesn't change God - it changes us. It humbles us and reminds us we depend on God.
     
  18. StraightAndNarrow

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    Gen 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.
    Gen 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
    Gen 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.


    Would God have grieved at a success? Actually, I need to qualify this answer because I've just done what I've said can't be done; that is trying to understand the "mind" of God.
     
  19. Ransom

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    Would God have grieved at a success?

    What are you implying that God failed at prior to the flood?
     
  20. Marcia

    Marcia
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    God grieved over man's sin. He hates sin. What do you mean by "success?"
     

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