On the doctrine of the immutability of God

Inspired by a debate with an unwilling Calvinist.

It’s pretty clear that God changes his mind:

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

We can interpret this 3 different ways:

1) God can change his mind.
2) God lied by saying that he would wipe out the Israelites when he knew that wasn’t ultimately his intention, without qualifying the statement with conditions
3) This quote is misrepresenting the original event.

The first option is the simplest, most obvious, and least subversive reading.

(This is the part where you call me names in the comments.)

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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19 Responses to On the doctrine of the immutability of God

  1. Littlebook AKA Koanic says:

    Doesn’t look to me like God changed His mind here.

    > Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.

    So that he MAY? He needs permission? He requires cooperation? No, he’s giving Moses a choice.

    • fgth says:

      The word ‘may’ doesn’t even appear in the Hebrew. Try Young’s literal translation for fuller understanding.

      Verse 14 (also mis-translated in most English versions) mentions that He was consoled by Moses’s words.

      A similar example of Yahweh consoling Himself following human intervention was Nineveh, much to Jonah’s chagrine.

      Yahweh is like us, Je likes to be consoled and show grace.

      He changed His mind, obviously. He’s the Most High God, he can change His mind about minutiae.

      A further clue: we are made in His image, and we change our minds too.

      • Mycroft Jones says:

        Yep. I agree with Vox Day about Jehovah’s omniscience and omnipresence.

        A God who can’t change his mind is Platonic, not real. Plato’s philosophy was the start of this “immutable’ stuff.

      • Littlebook says:

        You are replying to the wrong post. If you have a problem with Aeoli’s translation, take it up with him.

        It is perfectly obvious from the Bible that there are times when God speaks in a manner that permits negotiation, and other times does not. To suggest that God had not anticipated the negotiation is to argue that He has less acumen than the average Middle Eastern merchant.

        • fgth says:

          >So that he MAY? He needs permission? He requires cooperation? No, he’s giving Moses a choice.

          Your initial argument (of a choice for Moses) was entirely dependent on a word that doesn’t even exist in the original scripture (may), you even highlighted it, and my response highlighted that fact to you, hence the reply was to you.

          Your error, not the OP’s, the OP used the whole story to reach the only logical conclusion, not your conclusion. You reached an erroneous conclusion based on an added word, in future I suggest always looking back to the original Hebrew or Greek, most English bibles are full of deliberate errors.

          A statement from you now to the effect of ‘I retract my fallacious argument, thanks for correcting my error’ would be appropriate.

          • Littlebook says:

            > Your initial argument (of a choice for Moses) was entirely dependent on a word that doesn’t even exist in the original scripture

            No, it wasn’t. Your reading comprehension is bad.

            > Your error, not the OP’s,

            Wrong. The word to which you object was in the OP.

            > in future I suggest always looking back to the original Hebrew or Greek, most English bibles are full of deliberate errors.

            I have no interest in your suggestions.

            > A statement from you now to the effect of ‘I retract my fallacious argument, thanks for correcting my error’ would be appropriate.

            What would be appropriate is for you to cease commenting on scripture until you can perform flawlessly on standardized reading comprehension tests.

  2. Obadiah says:

    Bog-trotting double-nigger hooligan!

  3. John says:

    Christ laid down His life for His sheep/elect/children, and every one of us chosen before the foundation of the world will be saved.

    “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

    What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

    And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,”

    – Romans 9:21-23

  4. Heaviside says:

    Mycroft’s criticism of Plato’s influence is unfair because when we say in the vernacular that “God doesn’t change his mind” we speak as if He was a temporal being that merely has the accidental feature of not changing in time, and similarly the common usage of the word “predestination” implies that God’s “planning” takes place chronologically before every other event. If you want to read an account of predestination that is actually influenced by the Platonic tradition please consider Chapter 9 of John Eriugena’s treatise on the subject, where he makes the case that God only predestines what is good, and neither predestines nor has foreknowledge of sin or punishment, because evil is simply non-being and as such cannot be known.

    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=0E4DBBF8A44B11981715376B58E36B2D

    • Mycroft Jones says:

      Plato being a communist, I don’t mind being unfair to him. His lasting influence on Christianity has been negative in many layers and capacities. However, your idea of predestination for good, but not evil, is something interesting to explore. It is true you can’t prove a negative, but God does predestine some negative things too, otherwise the Word wouldn’t speak of vessels made for wrath, as John just quoted from Romans chapter 9.

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        Communism didn’t exist then. If anything, you would have to call communists a bunch of Platonists (though that isn’t true). However, the best expression of your idea would be to describe Plato as a statist, and communists a bunch of progressive utopians-turned-de facto statists.

  5. bicebicebice says:

    “We can interpret this 4 different ways:
    4) Moses changed Gods mind”

    i.e God can have is mind changed by believers (or non-believers heh) slight change YUGE difference not just semantics also make a podcast or I must rescind my 10k renminbi donation

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      Many are recorded, few were chosen.

      Boneflour and I are engaged in a very exciting dialogue about reopening the creative space to new excitement. We are hype, everyone is very hype about this, it is a big deal!

  6. emery says:

    There’s also the account of offering King David the choice between three punishments: plague, famine or being beset by enemies. A clear choice that relies on a direct input from David, no predestiny involved.

    • Littlebook says:

      Giving someone a choice isn’t an example of changing one’s own mind. There are much stronger examples in the Bible for Jehovah changing his mind.

      What makes me suspicious about Jehovah actually changing His mind, instead of seeming to, is that I can’t think of an example of Jesus changing his mind. We have much better insight onto Jesus’ psychology than Jehovah’s, so if there’s no proof that Jesus changed his mind, we should seriously doubt that Jehovah does.

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