Does God change? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
In Malachi 3:6, God says that He does not change. This has also been a position that the church has held historically. God is the same from ages to ages. Now I know at the start there are some objections people are going to have. Doesn’t the text say God changed His mind? Didn’t God become a man? Doesn’t that count as a change?
We will get to those.
Right now, I just want to establish immutability, which means that you cannot change. This means that any change whatsoever in the nature of God does not take place. God’s nature will always stay the same.
One reason we can say this is a change is from something else to something else. We are talking about changes that change one’s nature as well, but ultimately, I would say this means no chronological change in God. God is not moving along the timeline from not being a creator to being a creator, for example. God is doing all things eternally and not moving along the timeline.
After all, God does not age. I realize some people are open theists and would disagree with my position and I plan on speaking about God and the future. For now, this is just an articulation of my position as I have said and a defense in the face of criticism will come later.
Some who are theologically inclined are wondering probably if I will say anything about impassibility. That will be a later set of posts as well as I think there are some differences there, but at the same time it is something that I hold to.
If we do hold to simplicity, immutability will also follow. God does not have several parts that can change from one thing to another. Also, if God’s very nature is to be, then that being is not changed by something else. How can what it mean to be really change? Can a limitation be put on God that wasn’t there before?
The ultimate point of much of this is to show that God is not like anything else. He is not a creature. He is not the superhero God like the Greek gods and others who are pretty much really powerful humans with superpowers. It’s also hard to say how some of this is pagan thought since no pagan gods in a polytheistic sense would be immutable or simple.
This also means that God cannot be changed by anything else. That will be either good news or bad news depending on how you see Him. If you see Him as all-loving and all-compassionate, then that is a good thing since He will stay the same and not change. If you see Him as wicked and destructive as His immutability will mean that He will stay that way.
But what about prayer? Don’t we pray to God? What about God changing His mind? What about the incarnation? Again, questions about emotions and God will come along later.
Hopefully, next time we will be able to speak on this topic.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)