Press of the BeComingOne Church

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[Taken from the God Papers  by Walter R. Dolen
 Copyright 1977-2003 by Walter R. Dolen and/or BeComingOne Church]

Unchangeableness of God

gp169 God's Name tells us that God is in someway moving and changing towards his completed "state," for God is the BeComingOne, for God said his Name is, I will be that I will be, He is Yehowah -- He (who) will be. But the book of Malachi said that Yehowah does not change (Mal 3:6). Others speak about the "immutability" of God.

  • "The immutability of God is a necessary concomitant of His aseity [self-existence]. It is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises. In virtue of this attribute He is exalted above all becoming, and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or perfections. His knowledge and plans, His moral principles and volitions remain forever the same. Even reason teaches us that no change is possible in God, since a change is either for better or for worse. But in God, as the absolute Perfection, improvement and deterioration are both equally impossible." [Systematic Theology, Berkhof, p. 58]

The fathers of the Church took the "immutability of God" theory from Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. Plato believed that God was always perfect and any change was for the worse. Aristotle thought that God could not change because it would prove that God was not completely actualized in all His potentialities (Note Logic and the Nature of God, by Davis, pp. 41-42). But as noted by Davis, "now the 'God' Plato speaks of in his writings is different in several respects from the Christian God ... Again, Aristotle's God is not the same thing as the Christian God" (pp. 41 & 42). The immutability of God doctrine has more to do with Grecian philosophy than with the Bible.

gp170 The champions of the immutability of God theory say, "this immutability of God is clearly taught in such passages of scripture as Exod 3:14; Pss 102:26-28; Isa 41:4, 48:12; Mal 3:6; Rom 1:23; Heb 1:11-12; Jas 1:17" (Berkhof, p. 58-59). Yet when you study these scriptures you don't see anything that compares with the descriptions of the immutability doctrine just quoted from Berkhof's book (p.58). Shockingly, we see the immutability doctrine is described in almost the same words used by Plato and Aristotle when they characterize their God(s).

Immutable God Taught by Greeks

gp171 Plato's God was:

  • the ever-existing God.
  • one who existed always,
  • one who had no beginning of generation.
  • one who must have constructed Becoming and the All.
  • 'Was' and 'will be' on the other hand, are terms properly applicable to the Becoming ... but it belongs not to that which is ever changeless (pp. 65, 51, 55, 77, Plato's Timaeus, Loeb Classical Library, No. 234, Harvard Univ. Press).

gp172 Aristotle wrote in his Metaphysics:

  • "Moreover, life belongs to God. For the actuality of thought is life, and God is that actuality; and the essential actuality of God is life most good and eternal. We hold, then, that God is a living being, eternal, most good; and therefore life and a continuous eternal existence belong to God; for that is what God is. Those who suppose, as do the Pythagoreans and Speusippus, that perfect beauty and goodness do not exist in the beginning ... are mistaken in their view." [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Loeb Classical Lib. #287, p. 151]

gp173 Plato wrote in his The Republic:

  • "But think, God and what is God's is everywhere in a perfect state. . . if he does alter. Does he change himself for the better and more beautiful, or for the worse and more ugly than himself? He must change for the worse. . . ." [Book II, 381B]

Therefore, according to this way of thinking, God does not change because he is already perfect, and any change would have to be "for the worse." But the theory ignores the Law of Knowledge among other things and limits what God can do. For one thing, change in and of itself is not negative. With the immutability theory God cannot create something new or change at all. Anything that cannot change is actually dead. Those who propagate an immutable God are describing a dead god, not the live God of the Bible. The immutability theory, when you understand the Law of Knowledge, is nothing but a naive theory, not very well thought out. But we cannot explain this until you yourself understand the fundamental Law of Knowledge, which we cover in Part 7 of the God Papers.

Immutable God or BeComingOne God?

gp174 This unchangeable or immutable "God" of the great Grecian thinkers is not the one found in the Bible. The Grecian mindset could not and did not admit that God in any way at all could be becoming. Thus they refused to translate God's Name correctly. But God said His very Name was "He (who) Will-Be" or the "BeComingOne." The true God emphasized His Name over and over in scripture. Names in the Bible were used to describe certain important aspects of people. The true God said He was He will be, that he was Yehowah, or the BeComingOne. Some important aspect of Him is becoming. As explained previously, the real God used an imperfect Hebrew verb for His Name:

  • "The Imperfect denotes ... the beginning, the unfinished, and the continuing, that which is just happening, which is conceived as in process of coming to pass, and hence, also, that which is yet future" (Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar).
  •  
Serious Subject

gp175 If God is becoming, then He is not immutable in the sense that the Grecian mindset taught. What the Bible teaches about God is not what the Grecian mindset teaches about God. The essence of God is called a "mystery" because hundreds of scriptures are being overlooked that would teach us what God's essence really is. Do we wish to believe what the Bible teaches about the essence of God, or do we wish to continue being blinded by the Grecian mindset? This is serious. We must pay attention to scripture, not to the theological courses taught inside the Grecian mindset.

One sense of God's changeability

gp176 One sense of God's changeability is that throughout the Bible it shows God changing his actions toward people depending on the people's good or bad behavior (Lev 26:3; Pss 18:25-26; Prov 3:32-35ff, 14ff, 40ff; Exod 32:9-13; Jer 18:7-10; etc). If Israel follows God's commandments they receive a just reward. If Israel does not follow God's commandments, they receive a judgment (note Deut chap 28; etc.). The same applies to others besides Israel, for the true God is the God of all (Rom 3:29; Eph 4:6). The true God judges according to the ways of people: "the soul that sins, it shall die ... the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him" (Ezek 18:20). Another sense of God's changeability is manifested in the God Papers. But this change in no way diminishes the Power of God. We cannot speak of this change yet. Do read on.

Real Unchangeableness of God

gp177 Scripture indicates that the unchangeableness of God is his unchangeable words, his unchangeable truth (Isa 31:2, 46:11, 55:11; Heb 6:17-18; etc.) and his all mighty power (Gen 17:1; 1Chr 29:12; Isa 44:24; etc). God gave his Word that he will not totally consume Israel (note Exod 32:9-13, 33:1; Lev 26:44-45; Isa 65:8-9), because it is through Israel that the true Seed or Savior was to come, so for the sake of His word and His Name Israel is not consumed (note Ezek 36:21-22ff; Isa 48:9). The statement of Malachi ("I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed") merely indicates that God's word does not change, for he has promised that the true seed would come from this nation. The word translated "change" in Mal 3:6 is Strong's #8138 which has more to do with duplicity or changing one's promises than changing one's nature or power. To keep his word, to not lie, God must not consume the nation before the Seed came. Read the "Seed Paper" [PR 1] to understand more about God's promises to Israel and how God kept these promises.

gp178 Jesus Christ is not the same "forever" as Heb 13:8 in some English translations say, for this is incorrectly translated since it should be "Jesus Christ the same [or the very one], and into the ages" (see Greek text; see "Age Paper" [NM7]). What is unchangeable about God (or Jesus Christ) is his words, his love, his promises, and his power. These things are unchangeable because God does not lie, and he has all the power and life in his hands. In fact God is life (John 5:26; Acts 17:28). The fact that God is life does not change. The fact that God is all-powerful does not change. The fact that God does not lie does not change. But since God is the BeComingOne, then something about God is now changing. What is changing about God was manifested in the Bible. The God Papers will manifest the becomingness of God. Do read on.

gp179 In Pss 55:19 it speaks of those who do evil as not changing: "they do not change" (NKJV). Does this mean they are immutable? Of course not. Those who use the "I change not" in Mal 3:6 to prove their immutability of God theory are taking scripture out of context and using it to infuse the Greek theory of immutability into Christianity. They are not using scripture to find out who or what the God is, but want to hold on to myth instead of finding the truth. The very Name of God is "He (who) Will-Be." Thus, in some way God is changing. The God Papers expound on this.

Immutability: One Conclusion.

gp180 In Stephen T. Davis's Logic and the Nature of God, he admits,

  • I believe the route for the Christian philosopher to follow is happily to admit that there are senses in which God does indeed change, i.e. alter... . In fact, it is not easy to read the Bible without forming the strong impression that the God revealed there does indeed change in some senses. To pick an obvious case, very typically God is at one moment angry with someone (the person has sinned) and at a later moment forgives that person (the person has repented)....What was the classical doctrine of divine immutability designed to protect? I believe the answer is this: as I noted earlier, it was designed to preserve the view that God is faithful in keeping his promises... . [p.47]

This "classical doctrine of divine immutability" that Davis is writing about is the Grecian influenced ideas, which are not Biblical.

There are ways in which God changes over time, but one thing that does not change is His power and the fact that God cannot lie (Isa 46:11; Heb 6:17-18; 1John 5:18). The true God has all the power. But in someway God does change. The God Papers amplify on the nature of these changes.

For more about God click appropriate link top right to continue.


 

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