Like Shifting Shadows

Welcome back everyone to the Deeper Waters blog. I do ask for your continued prayers as things are still a struggle in many ways, but I figure the best way to see things is that the Holy Spirit is at work and it’s a painful process, but it is the process of God working to make someone like Christ and this is something I have been specifically praying for lately. I have another request that I’d like to have answered positively, but I prefer to leave that unmentioned. God knows. For now, we’re going to continue our Trinitarian commentary and we’ll be continuing the book of James in the first chapter with verses 16-18.

16Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Why are we going to this text? Because this text while not about the Trinity or about Christ or the Holy Spirit, is about the nature of God as a whole and there are some fundamental qualities of the nature of God that we need to grasp. This is one that we saw back in the last chapter of Hebrews and we’re going to comment on more now.

The unchangeableness of God is referred to as immutability. By this, it means that God does not change in his nature. I do not believe the incarnation counts as a change either as the ontological nature of God did not change, but one person who bore that nature did take on the nature of humanity. I do not know how this works with space and time entirely, but it is something we see in Scripture and we must accept as Christians then.

Why is it that God cannot change? Because God in his nature is perfect. He does not have any property that we would call accidental. That would in essence make him a composed being made of properties that defined his nature and non-essential properties that are in many ways simply add-ons.

If God takes on another attribute, then does that mean he wasn’t perfect before? Did he improve in some way? After all, if he takes on something else, that will count as a change in some way.  If, on the other hand, he loses one and that makes him lesser, then we can be assured that he wasn’t perfect.

This relies heavily on God being the source of all that is. God is not a composed being and does not have parts. This is the simplicity of God. Since he is the source of all, he is simple in his nature as otherwise, he would be a combination of parts and then we could ask where these parts came from and who put them together? This is an objection Richard Dawkins raises in “The God Delusion”, which shows why we should not take Dawkins seriously as a theologian or philosopher, for he has not studied the doctrine of simplicity in Christian thought.

If someone wants to say the Trinity violates immutability or simplicity, they can do so, but the burden of proof is on them. The same applies to the incarnation. This is a doctrine we need to understand however in understanding the doctrine of the Trinity.

We shall continue tomorrow.


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