Can God change his mind?

Can God Change His Mind? [closed]

According to most Christian traditions, God cannot change his mind.

There are those who teach that he can change his mind, a position inherent in open theism. However, this is viewed as heresy by most of the Orthodox Christian traditions. It denies the omniscience of God.

Retrieved from http://www.reformationtheology.com/2011/07/does_god_ever_change_his_mind.php

In recent years, however, a new movement called Open Theism has emerged. This movement brought Arminianism to its logical intellectual conclusion. Knowing the "problem" that full knowledge of the future means that the future is fixed, they have deliberately taken the position that God does not know the future at all. They argue that even God does not know about it because the future does not yet exist.

If laypeople changed his mind, it would mean that he was wrong at all. This is in contradiction to the teachings of omniscience and infallibility.

There are several places in Scripture where God can change His mind seems , for example in cases where he has promised judgment and then "repented". In these cases, people repent and turn to God, and God spares them the judgment He promised.

In these cases, he does not change his mind. Had they continued their sins, he would have carried out the promised judgment. However, since people repented, he was able to show his compassion. Since God knows the beginning of the end, did he know in advance that they would repent. He knew his judgment would not be necessary.

There is a nice article on the Grace Online Library that explains this in more detail.

Abstract:

The biblical narratives in which God appears to repent or change His mind are almost always narratives dealing with His threats of judgment and punishment. These threats are then followed by the repentance of the people or the intercession of their leaders. God is not persuaded to "change his mind". From his gracious heart he only does what he has promised - and not to punish sinners who repent and turn from their evil ways. He chooses not to do what he is authorized to do.

This is also in accordance with Catholic teaching.

When God hears our prayer, he does not change his will or his actions in our regard, but simply puts into effect what he has ordained forever with regard to our prayer. He can do this directly without the intervention of any secondary cause, such as when giving us a supernatural gift such as actual grace, or indirectly, when giving a natural gift. In this latter case he providentially directs the natural causes which contribute to the desired effect, whether they are moral agents or free agents like men; or some moral and others not, but physical and not free; or again if none of them are free. Eventually, by intervening miraculously and without applying any of these causes, he can produce the effect for which he prayed.

And reformed theology:

Some, while reading certain narrative parts of Scripture, have mistakenly found that God changes His mind. However, it is clear from the Bible that God not only does not change his essential nature (Mal. 3: 6), but he also does not repent or change his mind. The Bible actually teaches this in a didactic part. "God is not a man that he should lie, or a son of man that he should change his mind. Did he say and won't he? Or has he spoken and won't he do it?" Numbers 23:19.

For the sake of argument, let's try to imagine that God literally changes His mind. I want to explain how this concept is inextricably linked to God's omniscience, because in order for God to change his mind, he would have to make a decision and then receive new information that he did not have before, so that he can either see the mistake of his ways, or choose a better course of action. It is important that we see this. If God changes his mind, it means that God learns new material during the day and because you and I are making this information known to God or he sees that Plan A is not working either. Well, because he is now armed with new information, we can he will make a better decision than the one he made before. However, this idea would completely undermine God's exhaustive knowledge of future events (his omniscience), one of God's attributes. Such a thought is unthinkable. He would not be the omniscient God God declares him to be if he had actually ever learned anything. No, he always had a complete and infinite knowledge of all things from all eternity.

Hence, from the point of view of the major branches of Christianity, the answer seems to be "no".

Weak

"But in all of these cases it speaks of an impending judgment of God." -- Really? What about Exodus 4, where God seems to change His mind and approve of Moses' request to send Aaron? There is no impending judgment there.

David Stratton

@Flimzy Good point. That was poorly worded. In the passage you cited, however, God did not change His mind and sent Aaron in place of Moses. He tells Moses to take Aaron to speak for Moses, who in turn speaks for God. Nor is there any reason to assume that God did not know that Moses would find excuses beforehand. That would deny God's omniscience. It is reasonable to assume that God's plan was to send them both all along. He knew what Moses' objections would be before he laid the foundation stone for the earth, let alone before Moses objected. He raised Moses' objection and guided Moses to his original plan.

Affable geek

@DavidStratton Would you be open to editing if you mention the impassability? This is a good answer, but naming the doctrine would help ...

David Stratton

@AffableGeek - edit away.