Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Immutability of Our God

To say that God is immutable is to say that He does not change. In Malachi 3:6, God says, "I, the Lord do not change."

God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved.
God does not deteriorate.
God does not develop.
God does not mature.
God does not ripen.
God needs no upgrades or tune-ups.

If God could change for the better, He would not currently be the best possible being in the universe. If God could change for the worse, what kind of God could He end up being?
Affirming God's immutability is basically affirming that He is God. He has always, is, and will always be consistent with Himself.

In Knowing God, JI Packer list some ways in which God is immutable:
1. God’s life does not change. He is immutable in His essence (Psalm 102:25-27).

2. God’s character does not change. He is immutable in His attributes (James 1:17).

3. God’s truth does not change. He is immutable in His communication (Isaiah 40:8).

4. God’s purposes do not change. He is immutable in His plans (Psalm 33:10-11; Isaiah 14:24; Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:28-29).

5. God’s Son does not change. He is immutable in His saving power (Hebrews 13:8).

God is very dependable. In this rapidly changing world, God is constant, immovable, and steadfast. God's immutability is the foundation for all our confidence in God's promises and purposes.


Jonah4:4 said...

As an open theist, I'd like to respond to this if I may.

----"God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved."

I agree, God has never gone from one state to a better state.

----"God does not deteriorate."


----"God does not develop."

True, this is another growth word which can't apply to God.

----"God does not mature."

Yes, another growth word.

----"God does not ripen."


----"God needs no upgrades or tune-ups."

Again, true.

Notice that each of these statements are all types of growth or reduction. By using these statements as arguments against the open theist notion of God changing, Justin is assuming that all change is a type of growth or reduction. I assert that this is not necessarily so. A river is, by its nature, changing continuously and yet staying the same in its strength and essence -- or, its "riverness." A great general will change his tactics depending on the situation, but this does not change his greatness.

By this I mean to say that God can change to meet changing situations but NEVER changes in his power or essence. His character and goodness is always the same. Now maybe you can agree that saying that something has changed doesn't "necessarily" mean that it has grown or reduced. But maybe the real dispute is over whether the situations ever change for God.

Does God's situation ever change? Maybe that's the difficult question for us. I assert that it does. One example is prayer. Just lifting a prayer to God changes His situation. For Him to listen is a change. For Him to have something to listen to is a change. For Him to react to the prayer is a change.

But most explicit is the change that occurred when the Son became flesh, took on sin, was separated from the Father, died and was raised. The truth that is so central to our Christian faith is the most dramatic demonstration of change possible.

The 5 point list of God's immutability that you list, I agree with all of them. Nothing in any of the points that you have posted disagree with open theism. I don't disagree that God does not change in those 5 things. But to take those 5 ways in which God does not change and jump straight to God never changes is a demonstratable mistake.


pastor justin said...

Thanks for your comment.
I completely disagree with Open Theism and am grieved that you have embraced it.

However, I don't disagree with your comments. Saying that God does not change does not mean that God is static or boring. God responds to His creatures and has genuine emotions.

If you have time, read the article on the immutability of God on Sam Storms' website. He does a goood job of explaining this attribute of God.