Thursday, March 09, 2006

“God is perfect so he cannot change in any way”

This has been so widely accepted by Christians that it must be true. But we saw earlier that the Bible depicts God as “changing his mind.”

Some might argue that God is “pretending” to change his mind to shape people’s behavior. But in
2 Samuel 24:16 and Psalm 106:45 this explanation doesn’t seem to apply.

If the Bible shows a God who interacts with his people and adapts his behavior in response to their behavior, where did we get this idea that God is unable to change in any way?

It comes from Greek philosophy.

According to Greek philosophy, anything that is perfect cannot change. If it changes, it either becomes more perfect or less perfect. If it becomes more perfect, it wasn’t perfect to begin with. If it was perfect, then any change is change away from perfection.

On the surface this seems to make sense. But it is based on an assumption that all change is either change toward or away from perfection.

Plato believed that the real world was the world of “ideals.” These were perfect “forms” that were reflected in the imperfect objects of the visible world. Because these “forms” were perfect they did not change. And the highest “form” was the form of “goodness.”

When this philosophy was adopted by the later Christian theologians, God became the highest “form.”

But this reduces God to an unchanging, impersonal force (Star Wars?). However, the Bible reveals God as living and personal. What is unchangeable is his character: his faithfulness and love.

The Greek thinkers saw the world as shaped by an immaterial, timeless, unmoving, impassive and changeless principle. This principle was in some sense “divine.” When Christian theologians in the early centuries started to explain God to the world, they used this language to describe God’s greatness and his superiority to humanity.

But this is not the biblical language, as we have seen.

When the Bible talks of God’s unchangeableness, it is either talking about the reliability of his word or the unchangeableness of his character.

One of the most powerful expressions of this is found in 2 Timothy 2:11-13:
If we died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us;
if we are faithless, he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
This is not the unchanging, impersonal force of Greek philosophy. This is the living, personal God of the Bible.

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”

No comments: