Thursday, January 3, 2008

God Can Change His Mind, and He changes it often in Scripture

Watch out for this exciting discussion and make your prayer life really exciting and meaningful! The classical view, of course, is boring and non-relational since everything has been predestined. They actually believe in the pagan concept of DESTINY!

In Relational Theology, prayer and supplication is simply asking God to intervene in our affairs to change their course or alter the outcome according to our prayer requests. It could also mean "moving the hands of God through prayer" (1 Corinthians 2:16,The Living Bible). But such a train of thought is NOT possible if God was 100% immutable, i.e, not only immutable in character, but also immutable in thoughts and actions and attitudes.

When God created the world, He created natural laws along with it. An example is gravity. Sir Isaac Newton who was a Christian, by the way, said it best when he said: “What goes up must come down”. This means that God set things to go their "natural course" without necessarily His active participation in such an event other than His sustaining power to maintain these natural laws of the universe He created.

What this means, especially in a physical, emotional, spiritual or moral sense, is that by Divine design, events "naturally" lead to other "natural" events or outcomes. This also means that actions will have "natural" consequences. This is why there are Laws of Probability or Predictability. Remember the toss of a fair coin and the toss of a fair die? Anyone can predict that over the long term you have a 50% probability of getting heads or a 1/6th probability of getting a six respectively, and empirical data always proves that such is indeed the outcome. Then this is how mathematical laws get developed, simply because even with the influence of slight chaos in this universe, the natural laws do indeed hold and are theoretically predictable with a great deal of confidence.

God created mortal man with the intention of giving him a long life on earth centered around the Garden of Eden. But the consequence of eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was moral accountability or the loss of innocence. Hence, the fall of man. Man fell from innocence to accountability, from a long life in the presence of God (where mortal death was simply a transition from one state to the next) to a truly mortal life without God where death had to wait for final redemption (and that only for each man that gets reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, while in the mortal state) in order to resume living physically as well as spiritually.

Why do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so.

And, as early as the Creation account, the Bible also tells me that God changed His mind about so many details in His overall immutable divine design for creation as events of history started to unfold. But God is a God of order and not chaos. Hence, even if God allows a little chaos in the chain of historical events, He intervenes many times to preserve His creation. Intervention is nothing other than God making exceptions to natural law by His ACTIVE participation in the historical chain of events to actually change the outcome (and/or make it consistent with His overall plan(s)).

Interestingly, although we see early in the economy of God that He participated quite actively in intervening in the affairs of man, especially to preserve the logical trend of His progressive revelation of Himself to man; we find that as progressive revelation gets more advanced and clearer, God reduces His intervention into human affairs to the point that after the completion of the Judeo-Christian cannon of scripture or written revelation, God rarely, if ever, intervenes in His creative work EXCEPT as a response to the prayers of His people.

Prayer being useful and necessary to change God's mind is discussed under another subject, "Relational Theology Makes Prayer Meaningful". For now, we confine ourselves in just observing the Bible incidents which demonstrate when God changes His mind.

Genesis 3:21 may be the first time, "21 Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them." Compare this to Genesis 2:25, "25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." God created man and woman to exist a certain way. As a result of the fall which had "natural" consequences including the curse, God starts to demonstrate His omni-competence, i.e., His all-wise, omniscient, effective and efficient response to any arising situation. Nevertheless, He changed His mind about one thing and did something about it.

Immediately after He clothes man, He casts them out of Eden never to return in Genesis 3:22-24:

22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" - 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Clearly, His intention was for man initially to live forever in the garden of Eden for He never forbid them from eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life. But God changed His mind after the fall.

Moving on a bit forward, after God sees man going his own way despite His regular presence in their midst, he declares in Genesis 6:3, And the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive (abide) with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years."

So God originally intended to be continually present with man to fellowship with him. He also intended for man to live long. The previous chapter showed an average life-span of from 600 to more than 900 years. However, with God withdrawing His continual presence, He reduced man's life-span to a mere 120 years! By the way, have you noticed that of all the centenarians ever documented and reported, including the Hunza, rarely exceed 120 years of age? Herein is another deviation from the original Divine Design or intention. God changed His mind on these two issues to adjust to unfolding circumstances in His creative work.

In fact, just a few more verses later (v.5-8), we find God relenting that He ever created man, whereas in the 6th day of creation, He declared that everything He created was good. So God again changed His mind about His view of mankind.

... more to follow....

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