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Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'?

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Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'?
Early Christian Theologians such as Augustine and Aquinus were very influenced by Greek thought, particularly Aristotle. The Greeks thought God to be utterly 'unchanging' but the Hebrews thought otherwise and saw God as 'active','engaged', in constant dialogue with His people, calling, urging, warning, challenging and forgiving. Would it be wrong of Christians to assume that for God to be truly 'unchangeable' He cannot have any 'emotions'. Surely being 'emotional' not merely permanently passive, involves 'changing' quite often.

Regards Chris.
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
To assume that would be ridiculous. We are told that God Definitively had emotions. God Got angry. We are told that he is Jealous God as noted in Exodus 20:5 ( tho not in a sinful way). God Loves John 3:16 God Laughs Ps 2:4. I could go on and on.

Now then Adam and Eve were created in the image of God to include godly emotions and all was was perfect and well
until Eve was deceived and Adam sinned and they both fell because of their disobedience and became imperfect. OUCH!

God therefore is unchanging in His Nature, Character, Word.

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we must also recognize that the immutable and sovereign God deals appropriately with changes in human behavior. When they sin or repent of sin, He “changes His mind” with regard to the blessing or punishment appropriate to the situation
*

*Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). Reformation study Bible, the : Bringing the light of the Reformation to Scripture : New King James Version (Ge 6:6). Nashville: T. Nelson.
Bless the Lord, the Blessed One
Power, Honor and Glory to His Name

Chaplain Dave
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Re: [chaplaindave] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
God therefore is unchanging in His Nature, Character, Word.

Excellent. That's what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible. Hebrews 13:[7] Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. [8] Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

We have been given God's word like they received in the first century, from the same source both in scripture and inner teaching from the Holy Spirit, and through anointed preachers and teachers. It hasn't changed, God, His nature, character and His word immutable. The Holy Spirit was and remains quite capable of influencing men of all generations far and above the flicker of help offered by even the greatest of philosophers of any time. God inspired the Church Fathers directly through the Holy Spirit, and had no problem putting His word and revelation in Hebrew, Greek, or others even today in the world.

While God Himself is unchangeable, as you say having emotions and other attributes as described in the scriptures, of course He can and does change His judgments as He desires, and sometimes in answer to prayer. He permits mercy upon us, and has granted grace under certain conditions of choices we make. He has also made promises to the earth and mankind that He won't break, such as never again flooding the entire planet to punish sin.

Chris: As to your reference to early Church theologians being "very" influenced by Greek philosophy, that isn't true. St. Augustine's leanings were more of Latin/Roman influence, rejecting the then modern Greek and Egyptian ideas that opposed the Bible. St Thomas Aquinas was also chiefly of Latin/Roman influence, at one time assisting the Greek Orthodox Church using Koine Greek, but that's not related to Greek philosophy. He too rejected Greek philosophical influences, not at all thinking like Aristotle. Where did that come from, anyway? Almost afraid to ask....

Emotions don't define the person. Emotions are expressions from persons, including God, and it is normal to be able to control our emotions, as does God. Conversely, what we can control doesn't normally change us.
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dovegiven: May 3, 2012, 6:15 AM
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
rdrcofe wrote:
Early Christian Theologians such as Augustine and Aquinus were very influenced by Greek thought, particularly Aristotle. The Greeks thought God to be utterly 'unchanging' but the Hebrews thought otherwise and saw God as 'active','engaged', in constant dialogue with His people, calling, urging, warning, challenging and forgiving. Would it be wrong of Christians to assume that for God to be truly 'unchangeable' He cannot have any 'emotions'. Surely being 'emotional' not merely permanently passive, involves 'changing' quite often.

Regards Chris.

Good morning Chris. I was just popping in to see what you wrote. I have only this to add at this point:

Hebrews 13:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
The Greeks thought God to be utterly 'unchanging' but the Hebrews thought otherwise and saw God as 'active','engaged', in constant dialogue with His people, calling, urging, warning, challenging and forgiving.

Why do you believe the Hebrews believed God changes (i.e. from the way He was from the beginning) because of His chosen nature to dialogue, call, urge, warn, challenge and forgive people? If that's the way He does things, then how does that change Him or any person? The OT scriptures have God sticking to His covenants, not changing them at all, but adding covenants. Does God regularly go back on His word like men?

Even mankind hasn't changed, still adding sin in the Earth, though we do have increasing knowledge. We express many emotions, yet God deals with us the same as from Adam onward. What can be changed concerning man or God is relationship between man and God and neighbor.


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Re: [dovegiven] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
Thanks for all the replies folks : it's good to see interest in the debates forum.

What I was really after in posing the question is, what do we actually mean when we declare God 'immutable'?

Certainly God is not 'changeable', we can rely on God not to be capricious, erratic or immoral like the God's of the Greeks and Romans but there are numerous incidents in scripture when God 'changed His mind', in fact there are 6 instances in the KJV where God 'repented' and for us repentance is the biggest and most profound 'change' that we can possibly make in this life.

'Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow', we have scripture to confirm that but what kind of 'sameness' does this actually refer to.

It certainly cannot refer to the progress of his human physical and mental development, because 'the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom'. Luke 2:40. If Jesus Christ the Son of Man was God incarnate then physically and mentally at least, God must have 'changed' as all human beings must endure 'change' while in the flesh. Jesus also 'changed his mind' on a few occasions, when circumstances warranted it. He even once said he would not do something but later changed his mind and did what he had previously said he had no intention of doing. John 7:8-10

So is it possible, all you Bible scholars, to define exactly what scripture is saying when it says 'God does not change'?

And when we have got our accurate definition of what, in God, does not 'change', (specifically as used in scripture ), does it actually mean the same as 'immutable' as defined by Augustine as 'That which does not change and cannot change'.

I think that God knows what 'change' is all about. God has been through 'change' in the person of Jesus Christ. From fetus to corpse to resurrection is a process of the most profound degree of 'change' known to humankind, so can we focus in on just what it is about God that does not and has not nor ever will, change.

Maybe if we can do that we will have discovered something profound.

Regards Chris.

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rdrcofe: May 4, 2012, 6:12 AM
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Re: [MaryPankratz] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
I'm not sure what you are saying here when you present just this one verse. So then are you saying that God never changes in anyway shape or form? If so then you are making God into a liar by that statement. God said to Hezekiah 2 Kings 20:1 God told him he was going to die and not recover. After Hezekiah wept and prayed this is what God said to him verse 5.

Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the LORD

Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible : New Living Translation. (3rd ed.) (2 Ki 20:5). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

There are many other examples throughout the bible like the time God was had is mind made up to destroy the Hebrews and would have had not Moses intervened on their behalf. So you see my friend there are some aspects of God that do change and I am so glad of that or we would be like the fallen angel that have no hope of redemption.

I think that we are in like mindedness on this.
May God Bless and Keep you in the hollow of His Hand.
Bless the Lord, the Blessed One
Power, Honor and Glory to His Name

Chaplain Dave
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Re: [chaplaindave] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
chaplaindave :

So then are you saying that God never changes in anyway shape or form?

No, I'm just exploring the question, what do we mean by 'change' in reference to God? I'm fairly certain though that the word 'immutable' would imply '
that God never changes in anyway shape or form', so is the word appropriate when used describing God?

Jews would say no. Some Christians, like Augustine and Aquinas say yes. Thus we have a division between Greek and Hebrew thought on the matter.


Regards Chris.

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rdrcofe: May 5, 2012, 1:33 AM
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
The Hebrew for "perfect" is approximately "tamiym", meaning complete, entire, whole, etc. Surely all of us would agree God is perfect, as that would agree with scriptures throughout the Bible. I will add that since God is perfect in way, work, truth, judgment, that He always was and will be perfect in every way we could comprehend, and unimaginably throughout eternity, then God would not be subject to any change such that it would make Him different from how He was and is. Any change with God would be in His decisions for man concerning righteousness. What man does with God's provision couldn't change God from being "I AM".

Many Greeks got born again and made new creatures in Christ too, some realizing the mind of Christ the Lord put in them. Until then, of course there would be disparity of thought systems, but once made one in Christ the word of God instructs all perfectly.

"immutable" is accurate concerning God, "The Rock". There's a fine and quite legitimate, instructive metaphor, also (in type of Christ to come) "the rock" that provided drinking water for the Hebrews leaving Egypt, and fully "this Rock" Jesus declared to Peter.

What does that metaphorically and literally say to you?
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dovegiven: May 6, 2012, 7:51 PM
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Re: [dovegiven] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
The Hebrew for "perfect" is approximately "tamiym", meaning complete, entire, whole, etc. Surely all of us would agree God is perfect, as that would agree with scriptures throughout the Bible. I will add that since God is perfect in way, work, truth, judgment, that He always was and will be perfect in every way we could comprehend, and unimaginably throughout eternity, then God would not be subject to any change such that it would make Him different from how He was and is. Any change with God would be in His decisions for man concerning righteousness. What man does with God's provision couldn't change God from being "I AM".

Wow, Jim! Thank you for this. It is munchable, for sure!
Blessings ~ Sarah
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Re: [dovegiven] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
Dovegiven :

What does that metaphorically and literally say to you?

I think that makes a pretty good working definition of exactly what about God does not ever change. Namely God’s ‘character’ and ‘moral being’.

God is above all ‘dependable’, ‘reliable’ and constant, like a rock, ‘enduring in loving kindness’, ‘long suffering’ as the good ol’ KJV puts it. A Rock 'that is higher than I', also conjures in the mind images of a fortress of defense and protection. P.61:3. Prov. 18:10. That too I can agree with.

What man does with God's provision couldn't change God from being "I AM".

Jewish and Christian translators of the Hebraic text rendered “I am who I am”, Heb. ‘Ehyeh asher ehyeh’, into Greek as ‘ego eimi ho on’, and Christians then translated the Greek into Latin as ‘ego sum qui sum’, meaning ‘I am who I am’, or ‘I am he who is’. The early Christian theologians all understood the phrase to be speaking about ontology, the metaphysical nature of God’s existence. It meant that God was ‘Being-itself, timeless, immutable, incorporeal, understood as the subsisting act of all existing’. Aquinas went on to say the ‘I AM’ statement defines God as ‘true being, that is being that is eternal, immutable, simple, self sufficient, and the cause and principle of every creature’. It is questionable though whether God was actually defining His nature at all when He made this statement in Hebrew. Laying down a Theological definition of His essential nature might not have been God's purpose at all in saying it.

Aristotle and the Greek Philosophers would have recognized Aquinas' description of God but the Jews would not have seen this description as accurately pertaining to the God of Abraham and the prophets.

Ehyeh asher ehyeh’, apparently means none of what Aquinas thought. It means ‘I will be, what, where, or how I will be’. The essential element omitted by all of the Christian translations of the text is the future tense and the frequent use of idiom in the Hebrew language. In other words God said “Don’t concern yourself with what my name is Moses, just get on with the job I have given you and stop making excuses for not getting on with it”.

This is not a remote God of ‘pure, timeless, being’, as imagined by Greek philosophy but a God who is about to intervene in human history to free a group of Hebrew slaves from the grip of the greatest empire the world had yet seen, and who can’t abide silly questions which interfere with what God has decided to do in his own good time.

On mount Sinai God introduced himself not as 'The God who made the universe' but as 'The Lord your God who brought you out Egypt, out of the land of slavery'.

So I say God is only ‘immutable‘ in a qualified way. Namely that His character remains unchanging but, as you suggest, his judgements being unerringly wise, sometimes might appear to indicate that His demeanor must have changed. As you point out; not so; no change. It is man’s rebellion which appears to change God’s demeanor from benign to wrathful. It is ‘guilt‘,‘shame’, and ‘envy‘ in man which alters our perception of God’s unchanging goodness. It is sin which has changed our relationship with Him, not His with us. He still loves us but we cannot accept the truth of that because we have estranged ourselves from Him by our rebellion.

Many Greeks got born again and made new creatures in Christ too, some realizing the mind of Christ the Lord put in them. Until then, of course there would be disparity of thought systems, but once made one in Christ the word of God instructs all perfectly.

I’m not quite sure whether this actually sums up the situation accurately though. Analytical Greek thought or Holistic Hebrew thought are not either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways of thinking. They are just different. Like left and right brain thinking. A balanced mind must do both. Our minds must be emotionally educated and exercised and they must also be rational and analytical if they are to be healthy places for the Holy Spirit to indwell. I have the impression that Jesus was the most well balanced individual who ever walked the earth.

Jesus certainly had the capacity to respond differently to different situations though. In order to do that he must have had to be capable of ‘changing’. He certainly was not uniformly ‘passive’ or divinely remote and immutable, unconcerned with the plight of mere mortals, like the Greeks once imagined their God’s to be.

Regards Chris.
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
Thanks for that reply, Chris, and you too, Sarah. Good topic for sure.

I must point out that God chose the Hebrews, not the Greeks, not the "Western World" to deliver His original word to mankind. Being perfect in every way, God knew how the Hebrews thought, having known Abraham from whom they emerged. He also knew most people receiving the word of God from them would be gentiles. It appears very unreasonable to me that God would choose a language to hold His truth over the millennia while most of the literate world was and still is ignorant of how ancient Hebrews thought. He must have chosen that language because He knew it wouldn't change enough to distort the message to man until the end of time.

Any disparity of thought concerning understanding of the word of God as delivered to the Hebrews, bearing in mind Jesus living and dying as a Hebrew in Israel, must show all the error among the Greek philosophers. Jesus had access to the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, the Septuagint (323-133 BC). Note that Jesus nor any apostle disputed that translation, it being treasured by most Christians AD. It was Jewish scholars that rejected it because of fears of (Hellenistic Judaism) adulteration, doubtless an attempt to discourage the Christians' and any Jews' use of it due to the growth of Christianity. Jewish scholars chose the Masoretic text as a predictable reaction, though there was not and still isn't enough difference with the parent source of the ancient Koine Greek text (Septuagint), Masoretic, or Vulgate texts to warrant condemnation of the Septuagint.

Thomas Aquinas added Aristotle's philosophy to Christianity, or perhaps more accurately changed the literal understanding of scriptures by influence of Aristotle in order to gain a more Western thought pattern towards reinterpretation of God's message, avoiding the most ancient Hebrew language message. Aristotle is not regarded as a backup spokesman for God, the Greeks not a chosen people to declare the pure word of God. He was the chief influence of Western thought, not Hebrew thought. There was and is no place for attempting to comprehend the word of God by adopting the mindset of any Greek philosopher, or any other for that matter. Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
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dovegiven: May 7, 2012, 2:00 PM
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
So then are you saying that God never changes in anyway shape or form?

No, I'm just exploring the question, what do we mean by 'change' in reference to God? I'm fairly certain though that the word 'immutable' would imply ' that God never changes in anyway shape or form', so is the word appropriate when used describing God?


Jews would say no. Some Christians, like Augustine and Aquinas say yes. Thus we have a division between Greek and Hebrew thought on the matter.

I've been thinking about that last paragraph since beginning to think about excuses Jews had for rejecting the Septuagint on grounds of alleged Hellinistic influences. When you say "Jews would say no", are you including ancient Jews, or those of Jesus' day (far apart from the way of Abraham), or what modern Jews say? If modern, then we have a whole 'nother topic to discuss, since you are speaking in terms of Augustine and Aquinas. That leaves us to conclude one or the other of antiquity. Since the text of the OT has a thousand year span from Moses to Malachi, and ends about 540 years before Christ, there's a problem I see trying to say Aristotle could have any influence at all on how Hebrews reasoned a thousand years prior. Both cultures went through extreme changes over that period. At best there might be some advantage to "hind-sight" on the part of Greek philosophers, but even Aristotle was influenced by other philosophers before him only a few generations before him, focusing on their own progressive way of thinking.

I'm glad the Greeks paved that way for the sake of Westerners, but don't believe there's a relationship between what they thought and what God said to the Hebrews. The main idea of the Bible concerning that is that God intervened in all thought patterns of mankind by giving His word to Israel for distribution to the world. No culture had such a thought pattern as delivered from God. That intervention extended to all future generations, including the Greeks, the Romans, until today and forever.

Let's move on to the time of Jesus, then. The Jews of that day had broken away from the problem of Mosaic law being in great conflict with Greek culture, the main issue of Hellenism infecting Jewish culture for a brief period not older than the days of Alexander the Great, but to do that, they gave up Israel to Rome. In that light, no wonder the conflict between priests of Jerusalem and Jesus' doctrine, seen by them as blasphemy worse than Hellenism, even though Jesus spoke closer to Moses than they did. That's the only period I might agree there was actual significant division between Greek and Hebrew thought. What came later was simply academic in nature. Jesus and His apostles ended Greek influence on the interpretation of scriptures, giving "true Judaism" back to those willing to accept it, but offering the better new covenant in Christ.

"We" don't have a division between Greek and Hebrew thought patterns, the way I see it. Some of "them" might have, but the key is "some", not a majority. "Some" Jewish scholars in the days of Augustine and Aquinas thought apart from orthodox patterns, but not "most".


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Re: [dovegiven] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
Dovegiven :

Jesus and His apostles ended Greek influence on the interpretation of scriptures, giving "true Judaism" back to those willing to accept it, but offering the better new covenant in Christ.

I think I see what you are driving at here, (Jesus Christ's doctrine being the essence of true Judaism). I agree, but is it not true that because the New Testament ‘scriptures’ were almost entirely written in Greek, a Jewish mind, (albeit a renewed Jewish mind in the pattern of Christ), might have valuable insights into why the parables of Jesus were so popular with his audiences? Might we be missing something in the translation from Aramaic to Greek to English which might give valuable insights into what Jesus actually meant, when he said it?

For that ‘meaning’ we rely a lot on the writings of Paul who has more than half of the New Testament attributed to him, yet never met Jesus face to face and presumably had opposed his teaching while he was alive; (though there is no evidence that Paul ever came into contact with the Jesus movement before the death of Christ). I sometimes wish more of the original Apostles had decided to commit their knowledge to pen and paper and survived for us to read them.

We assume Paul dictated his letters in Greek, it being the common language of his day, so there was already a filtering process going on in his Jewish mind as he reshaped his thoughts to conform to the strictures of the Greek language.

I wonder if this whole situation was overseen by God in the 'inspiration process', precisely because the two different thought patterns, (logical analysis and emotional response), are essential to a well balanced personality and that was what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God being within you.

Hebrew scriptures filtered a Greek analytical perspective seems to have intuitively arrived at a uniquely ‘Christian‘ revelation of the nature of God.

Regards Chris.

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rdrcofe: May 8, 2012, 5:15 AM
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
Around 1980-85 I served a wide array of visitors to a popular recreational area, being a Park Ranger doing a lot of interpretive work, aka "campfire meetings" teaching campers science topics as applied to the area. That helped advance in salary. I was paired up with fellow citizen employees that spoke and wrote languages such as Spanish and even was tutored in Telugu when large numbers of visitors from India began coming, I also picked up a lot of various cultural tidbits, such as whether to never speak to a wife or use left hand to pinch bread. Each day English was rarely used, so I had to focus intensely, listening, speaking. I've lost all that skill except for maybe a few prepared greetings, but not the experience of communicating differently. In all that I remained fully an American, not thinking differently enough for anyone to notice and comment that I was "thinking" Hindu or Brazilian or Japanese. I retained my Arkansas accent, and resumed doing things the way I had done before exposure to other cultures, yet greatly improved in ability to converse with different nationalities. I was able to relay to them in basic (but fewer and carefully chosen) words what federal regulations applied to their activities, and teach nature without getting too many chuckles.

It is possible to use other languages without having to adopt "the way of thinking" of the associated cultures. All that is required is learning certain keys, just figuring it out if given enough time to work at it among people using a language. With Greek, compared to Hebrew, there are many language elements such as syntax, alphabet, sounds, grammar that are quite different, both languages a world apart from English.

In college I was required to take 2 semesters of Greek, but only for reading and composing. Speaking it conversationally was a challenge I didn't need, that being an elective course, so I skipped it. Those that went through it learned there are "tricks" required beyond reading and writing it.

When Jesus and the apostles taught together in Israel the target audience was Hebrews. Jesus encountered gentiles rarely. Being a Hebrew, Jesus doubtless mastered the Hebrew and Aramaic language and spoke in Hebrew, His listeners gaining the gospel in terms of Hebrew/Aramaic language construction. Jews used Greek as needed because that was like in many nations today English is an alternative language with roots back to world wars and the necessity of foreigners to learn it. I just read where a lot of that came by way of British Empire occupation prior to those wars. In Jesus' time both universal Greek was commonly spoken, and some Latin due to the Roman influence.

Not many years later Jews rejected as much Hellenistic (Greek culture) influence as possible, and didn't adopt Roman culture out of hatred for the Romans. Also, the Jews didn't commonly read or write Greek or Latin, speaking it only, but taught from their youth to master Hebrew as part of their culture. When speaking a language it's vital to do it correctly moment by moment, no time to study your words. But if and when a person could write a letter in Greek, there would be plenty of time to study the construction of the letter, less apt to make errors. I am convinced each apostle kept notes in Hebrew, conversed among themselves in Hebrew, and very likely wrote mostly in Hebrew, most of them wanting to minister the gospel to Hebrews. We don't know that due to not having surviving manuscripts, but we do know those words were translated into Greek once the gospel left Israel. "Out there" Hebrew letters would have been of little value, that language quite unknown to most gentiles. Some letters might well have been in Hebrew, but the majority of course were in Greek, then Latin.

We don't know when or who took any Hebrew epistles to Greek copies, but it happened at least with Paul, who would have mastered those and probably more languages. The language penned would have matched specific audiences. Copies of those were then translated to match new target audiences.

So many copies of copies of original texts were made that it became very easy to discover which copies had error. It was forensically possible to determine exactly when, where, and by whom errors were penned, just as it is possible to do today.

I agree, the Christian way of thinking transcended both Hebrew and Greek influences, becoming a new unique "language" in a sense, influenced most by direct instruction from God. The "Way of Christ" avoided the bounds of the ancient languages and cultures. The "mind of Christ" is ours to enjoy, making it possible to fellowship with God.

Our challenge today is like the early Church had to figure out, how to communicate this Way to other cultures not readily adapted to change to thinking like Christ. Taking it in that direction, from Bible to a new place on earth does require temporarily adapting it to their culture and language for adequate comprehension, but not at the expense of changing the message of the Bible. The things people have to be taught, outside the Hebrew or Greek cultures, are how the ancients DID things, like learning about Israeli society peculiarities such as with matrimony.
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dovegiven: May 8, 2012, 6:36 AM
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
Thank you sir for your clarification. I believe the word immutable is not the word to be used.
I presented my thoughts by stating to a Mary what happened In 2 Kings 20:1-5 where God "Changed His Mind"
If He is completely unchangeable then there is a lie somewhere again reference 2 Kings 20:1-5. That was and still is my point.
I would like to say this only this one thing if any one disagrees with me here in this forum that is fine I have no problem with that but Please let's keep the comments and concerns in this forum and not air out things in Blogs.
If you I say something that
Quote:
personally
offends then please by all means PM me and we'll work thru it.
So back to topic it is my personal opinion that the word "Immutable" in it's strongest sense just isn't the correct word. I stand on the side of the Rabbis on this.

GBU
Bless the Lord, the Blessed One
Power, Honor and Glory to His Name

Chaplain Dave
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
This has been a refreshing of history for me, very interesting new and old knowledge. I figure Chris will enjoy the following link, but even if you aren't interested in history, you might appreciate learning some interesting things under the title "Comparing Greek and Chinese Philosophy and Science" at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~nsivin/comp.html

With that as my background reference in this post, I want to bring up other aspects related to the OP, towards understanding of how world cultures handle biblical philosophy.

I got onto that for several reasons while studying Chris' OP statement about Greek influence on early Christians. I attended a large church several years ago that began supporting "out-of-denomination" missionaries, much of it via cash and donations of goods shipped to the Philippines, then smuggled into places like interior China. Chinese pastors usually never left their area, so depended on outside contacts through another ministry that supports them directly. We lost track of them, assuming something dire happened, and eventually stopped being contacted for support. But when that ministry was going well, the primary missionary, who only occasionally visited inland China to see his family, visited us to give a fresh report and teach us how to help without interfering in safety of home pastors there.

The main idea I remember most is by whatever means get the scriptures to those people. Regardless of language they would be able to read and preach, even if all they get is commentary on scriptures without even mentioning scriptures. The Chinese minister's English was labored, being a master of Mandarin, assuring us that even though the people there in deep inland China only knew Mandarin they could get English directly translated to their dialect, then preach it as they took it literally. The link I gave helps explain how the Chinese went in a very different direction from the Greek and Hebrew thought processes around 400 AD when Augustine was alive, today quite more different than yet are able to figure out the scriptures to get the intended message. They can do that without any knowledge of Hebrew or Greek culture, unaffected by outside philosophies, and come here to America preaching the gospel in far greater depth than most American preachers. "Orthodox" Jews today have done quite well in preserving at least an historical remembrance of their legacy, devoid for the most part of Greek philosophy.

I say that because much of the ancient Chinese culture has survived alongside their own modern ideas, and so has the Hebrew culture, though also now divided into sects such as Orthodox Jews, Reformed Jews, and conservative Jews. I note that around the time of Augustine and Aquinas there was no significant example of Aristotelian society, having vanished, and the Roman society was becoming but history, also failed. So it was that no society of their day existed to give a heavy credit to Greek philosophers as influential enough to permanently affect subjects like immutability of God, or to shape Christian doctrine.

The point I'm trying to get to is it isn't necessary in any culture to master the Hebrew culture or any philosophy to let the true Interpreter of holy scriptures, the Holy Spirit, to deliver God's unchanged message. The gospel is being read and cherished all around the world with no help from outside teachers, developing their own teachers as they learn from God through scriptures and His anointing.

That is a reason why I believe it's important to read the scriptures first as a literal message, taken literally, assuming a metaphorical message only if a literal reading doesn't make sense even if there's an apparent disagreement with other scriptures. Give it extra study to sort out any discrepancy. God is capable of guiding the reader to realize the difference like He does for new Christians separated from the rest of us. However, if the metaphoric interpretation produces an out of context message not making sense of the surrounding text, then it should be discarded. Any non-Christian philosophical interpretation of scriptures ought to be discarded, especially if tainted by Aristotle. Look up what he had to say about pursuit of happiness, by his estimation the greatest pursuit of humankind. Philosophies such as his helped solidify humanism, not Hebrew or Christian thinking. Does that mean rejecting anything from St Augustine or Aquinas? No. Practically all their contributions were free of Platonic/Aristotelian/Manichaeism thinking he studied in his youth, discarded upon conversion to Christ. The man was brilliant, able to safely take into consideration many perspectives, like some Christians today are willing to study science perspectives that support evolution, so that we can be better equipped to discuss that. It would be interesting to find some major doctrine of his, or Aquinas, that demonstrate a significant influence from Aristotle more than what is gleaned directly from the Bible.


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dovegiven: May 8, 2012, 1:24 PM
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Re: [chaplaindave] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
Chaplain Dave, would you care to explain Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Did Malachi lie? You might want to refresh yourself with the whole chapter, preferably the whole of Malachi.


Could it not be as in 2 Kings 20 that there already existed two events God knew about, one happening if Hezekiah simply accepted his death, the other happening if Hezekiah prayed for healing? I believe God lives outside of time, and views all possible ways a man could take. He told Isaiah to announce bad news, the king prayed, then God told Isaiah to announce good news. God changed?

I think we ought to further explore the meaning of "change". Does God become a different God upon allowing or directing an alternative path? Or are we discussing a simple unilateral change in decision? If by changing His mind on a decision that depends on an act of a man, then man can change God, and is therefore greater than God. Could God be God if man could do that? I don't think so. I prefer to think man is authorized to speak up and select a better path than "dealt" him by his own doings. God simply allows it if He is asked, heals the same way people were healed by Jesus, and the same way healing is commanded to occur among us today. We have not because we ask not, not that God won't give.

You say "the rabbis", while many don't support your position. Possibly most rabbis seem to disagree, believing God is absolutely immutable, that man can't comprehend the ways of God enough to accept that. I've been researching among prominent rabbis on this paradox issue. I'd like to know exactly which rabbis you side with that disagree with Malachi 3:6, that don't tend to also believe in essence there is no God as most of us think of God. There's a lot of weird stuff coming from modern rabbis, most of it absurdity, some of it true atheism.
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dovegiven: May 8, 2012, 12:24 PM
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Re: [dovegiven] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
The Fact is in Kings 20 God said h that the King was going to die is that not so?
Did he die? accordingly God had mercy and changed His mind about the Kings death period.

I believe God lives outside of time, and views all possible ways a man could take. He told Isaiah to announce bad news, the king prayed, then God told Isaiah to announce good news.

That being so my friend why did God even tell the King he was going to die. Now you wish to continue no problem then Why did God ask Adam who told you you were naked? Didn't God already KNOW. We can go on and on you presenting your side and thoughts and me and my thoughts until who knows when. But I do know this. God is infinite where I am not and I can not explain everything as You can not either.
But if you would read all my postings you would have seen that I wrote that God is unchangeable in His Nature, Character, Word.

To quote you "If by changing His mind on a decision that depends on an act of a man, then man can change God, and is therefore greater than God" I'd just like to say that if you believe this statement then Why do you pray? Isn't it to persuade God to change His mind about some things at times?

Are you saying that God has never been persuaded by man to change His mind? Abraham on his nephew Lot for instance. Did not Moses on many occasions change God's mind about thing that He was going to do. When God was going to destroy Israel and raise children from Moses but Moses intervened. You may be correct in the fact that maybe God was just waiting all along for Moses to talk to Him about it.

Also God being The Father there is a time when He says don't approach me with this again my mind is made up. Moses Death and not being able to go into the Promised Land. However God in His Mercy and Grace did show the land of promise to Moses before he died.

Yes sir I believe there are times when we can change God's mind about things unless His mind is firmly made up.

So you tell me I don't have the answer nor do I believe you or anyone else does either on this we just have what we believe.


May God Bless you brother and thank you so much for your input.
Bless the Lord, the Blessed One
Power, Honor and Glory to His Name

Chaplain Dave
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Re: [chaplaindave] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
Brother, please answer my last post before I reply to you. You are repeating your position while there's an apparent roadblock to that position. That's the way of apologetics.

Chaplain Dave, would you care to explain Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Did Malachi lie? You might want to refresh yourself with the whole chapter, preferably the whole of Malachi.
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Re: [dovegiven] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
Dovegiven :

I've been researching among prominent rabbis on this paradox issue. (I'd like to know exactly which rabbis you side with that disagree with Malachi 3:6), that don't tend to also believe in essence there is no God as most of us think of God.

I think it an unnecessarily aggressive debating technique to attempt to shift the focus onto 'taking sides' - e.g. ‘exactly which rabbis you side with' that disagree with Malachi 3:6’ as if someone's opinion can be dismissed on the grounds that people he agrees with are held by you to be 'heretics' or 'atheists'. (I actually don't think you know enough rabbi's of either opinion to make such a judgment anyway).

No one is ‘siding with anyone’, we are just expressing an opinion. The fact of the matter is that many respected Jewish Rabbis including Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks do not think this verse is speaking about the ‘immutability’ of God. And I also think they are right. That is not to say however that I think that God's immutability has been disproved. It hasn't. I just don't think the word, as the Greeks would have understood it, is appropriate when applied to the God of Abraham.

Jonathan Sacks says of this particular verse,

When Malachi says in the name of God, “I the Lord do not change” he is not speaking about God’s essence as pure being, the unmoved mover, but about his moral commitments. God keeps his promises even when his children break theirs. What does not change about God are the covenants he makes with Noah, Abraham and the Israelites at Sinai. The Great Partnership, (God Science and the Search for Meaning) - Hodder.

The issue is not so much a paradox as a new understanding of the meaning of “Ehyeh asher ehyeh”, new because no Jewish mind had conceived it. It was born out of the legacy of Plato and Aristotle but matured in the cradle of the Christian Church to become in English "I AM what I AM", rather than "I shall be whatever I choose to be". Either statement can be demonstrated in scripture to be technically correct, because the second translation speaks of God's Sovereignty. If God chooses to change I certainly believe God is capable of it. Who could deny that?

This new definition of God's nature, in part, led eventually to the hitherto untried thought forms of Western Civilization. The unique synthesis of Athens and Jerusalem became Christianity; led to the discipline of Systematic Theology, which paved the way to the enlightenment, the scientific method and the quest for truth that that quest represents in it’s highest form.

The world owes a lot to Christianity.

Regards Chris.

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rdrcofe: May 8, 2012, 3:38 PM
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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
No one is ‘siding with anyone’, we are just expressing an opinion.

Chris, this is an apologetics forum where debate is expected, not just giving opinions. An opinion isn't worth much without some support. I was replying to post 14 and the last line So back to topic it is my personal opinion that the word "Immutable" in it's strongest sense just isn't the correct word. I stand on the side of the Rabbis on this.

That statement is fair game to challenge, well within the norms of apologetics. Which rabbis? Most, many, some? "The" rabbis is misleading if not qualified. I spent hours reading up on various rabbinical positions of the past century and know there is no "the side" among them. It's been a source of paradox among them, not generally among Christians. A fact, not my opinion: Some rabbis would agree with that position of mutability of God.

As for my reference to Malachi 3:6, that happens to be God's position on this topic. How many times should God have said it? Well, in principle it has been affirmed many times in scripture in other words. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever if that applies to Jesus. I'll stand with God, not any rabbi disagreeing with the Malachi statement, which is truth.


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Re: [rdrcofe] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
No wonder all this. Jonathan Sacks is not pro Christian, cannot be regarded by Christians as a spokesman for how we ought to interpret scriptures. Just referring to the Athens-Jerusalem synthesis proves it, "becoming" Christianity, meaning "flatters", not "producing", right? The relationship means Jerusalem's traditions and Greek politics/philosophy combine to complement Christianity. Neither do that alone or combined in any fashion. Jesus brought a NEW covenant, not one born out of pre-existing systems of men. It came from Heaven directly to earth, not through vain philosophies. Are you aware St. Augustine indicated preference for the third part not included in that synthesis? God making humans capable of true love, through which the new order from Heaven would be made possible (City of God). That has nothing to do with the metaphor of Jerusalem + Athens. It is a great distraction leading up to the more modern concept among some Jews that we Christians can't possibly know or comprehend their God, calling on us to answer to Athens. Christianity answers to none but God. Their irritation over God who abandoned them the past 2,500 years needed to be changeable. God didn't accommodate them, so they turn now to philosophies their elders rejected by the 2nd century.

So interesting.
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Re: [dovegiven] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
OK Here is the only answer that I will give Malachi 3:6 God is saying because of my promise to Abraham you have not been destroyed.

Also well thinking on this subject I'd like to say this in reference to God wanting to kill the Israelite s until Moses spoke to God about It, Yes
God CHANGED His mind at that point in time however He did not change in the effect that He did indeed kill them didn't He. He led them in the wilderness until all who came up out of Egypt died except for Joshua and Caleb. So in essence God indeed did not change however only for that point in time. What He proposed to do He did right?
This is the point I am trying to make.

As to your statement That statement is fair game to challenge, well within the norms of apologetics. Which rabbis? Most, many, some? "The" rabbis is misleading if not qualified. I stand corrected on this not all rabbis agree with this point. So may I then retract that last statement. So I retract the last statement. I hope this clarify s my position for you on this subject.


Bless The Lord The Blessed One
Bless the Lord, the Blessed One
Power, Honor and Glory to His Name

Chaplain Dave
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Re: [chaplaindave] Is God immutable? Has God, (in scripture) ever 'changed'? In reply to
As to your statement That statement is fair game to challenge, well within the norms of apologetics. Which rabbis? Most, many, some? "The" rabbis is misleading if not qualified. I stand corrected on this not all rabbis agree with this point. So may I then retract that last statement. So I retract the last statement. I hope this clarify s my position for you on this subject.

Thanks. There's a few long explanations for my persistence on that, but that's too far off topic. Simply put for now, if we let it go then topics usually jump way off course arguing a new point that's off topic.

I'd like to settle the idea of "change". Consider this from this morning. I chose from two offers from my wife today, go fishing, or work on my alleged "day off" working for her business, in case I'm needed Unimpressed I decided, hooked the boat up, had just finished strapping rods down, about to go fuel up. I was very happy. As I got in the truck my wife called on the phone. "I'm having trouble finding a replacement caregiver for 9A-2P. Do you mind coming in?" Put that way I still had a choice. But it didn't last long, as I could see in my mind's eye those big brown eyes pleading. I changed my mind like I have many times in like situations. The caregiver showed up anyway, so I took a third path, logging in here. Did my person change, becoming a different person, each time I change a decision? What changed? I had two paths to choose from first thing this morning at 5A. Both were good, nothing evil about one. All it took from me was "OK, I'll disconnecting the boat."

I am trying to say a change in decision concerning someone else isn't a change in a person deciding that changes the person. Such changes change circumstances around affected persons.

Let's look again at your 2 Kings 20 reference to God changing. Indeed God heard the prayer, answered with news of healing, adding 15 years of life, and deliverance from the Assyrians. Sounds like a great setup, right? God said He would defend Jerusalem for his own sake.

A critical point in that account was that God didn't order up Hezekiah's death. He told Isaiah to go tell him it was coming, associated with the sickness. Being given a chance to "get your house in order" is quite a favor, even if your doctor says that unexpectedly. It is wisdom to act on that if the house is not in order. I don't think it is reasonable to assume God had made a decision to let the king die, then changed His mind. Death isn't His friend, and God doesn't say He uses death on us. It, being evil and our enemy, comes upon us because of sin. God of course knows it is coming, and can, and does, give warnings to some folks. That shouldn't be proof God changes.

Right away the king showed off the secret treasures to the Babylonians, quite foolishly. The Lord then sent in Isaiah prophesying that the house would be emptied by the Babylonians, all the stored up treasures and his sons would be carried away. All the king then asked for was for peace and truth in his own days.

Three years later Manasseh was born to Hezekiah. Had the king died a timely death, of course Israel would have been spare that tragedy. My take on all that is if God changed in any way personally, that decision resulted in evil and the captivity of Israel then Judah, making God a party to engineered evil. None of that fit God's will for Israel. He simply allowed them to take another path, knowing it would end in great harm, then recertified His sameness in Malachi 3:6, only keeping that promise to Abraham. A remnant of Jews will be saved in the end times. All along God of course had another plan which was and still is to be executed as told by the prophets and Jesus. Sticking to that plan is proof to me He never once changed from being the same God from eternity past to eternity future.
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