Monday, November 30, 2009

God is Sorry. Wait. No He's Not.

From BeAttitude

Does God ever feel shame and repent for his mistakes? Or is he a perfect God?

God apologizes, feels shame, feels regret, repents for his mistakes and openly admits that sometimes his perfect plan isn’t so perfect.

The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.
Genesis 6:7

And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Exodus 32:14

And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
1 Samuel 15:35

The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?

Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous.”

Then Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
Genesis 18:17, 20, 32-33

God is perfect. His ways and his word are without flaw.

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.
2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:30

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
Deuteronomy 32:4


Jodie said...

Just because you make mistakes and regret the past, just because you repent and change your mind, doesn't mean you aren't perfect.

In fact, it would seem you can't be perfect at all unless you are willing to repent and admit your mistakes.

So, what exactly is the paradox of perfection? And what is this idol we worship in its place?

Pam said...
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Doug Hagler said...

This is lovely, because it is a concise rebuttal of the over-wrought concept of God's perfection being like a Greek marble statue rather than like Christ.

I also wonder what kind of word for "perfect" is used in the second set of quoted passages. I remember studying the "be perfect as God is perfect" line from Mathew 5. The sense of the word used there wasn't "perfect" as in flawless, like a diamond, but "perfect" as in complete or whole.

In our human experience, repentance seems to be utterly necessary in our own completeness and wholeness. Why not so for God? Particularly when the Bible is chock full of examples of how God is NOT perfect in an impervious, distant way, but in a messy, blood-spattered, paradoxical, anguished, complicated way...

Particularly if we are somehow made in God's image.

Of course God repents. God is the perfect mistake-maker and the perfect repenter and the perfect do-over-er. Every time we make a mistake, we can trust that we are not violating our calling, but even following in God's footsteps.

Nice and provocative, and few things make me more frustrated than a distant, impervious God.

Eddie Louise said...

Right - so GOD is complicated. Check!

Jodie said...

"God's perfection being like a Greek marble statue rather than like Christ."

Right. An idol of our own making. Away with that.

Thomas said...

How can the Supreme Being, Who exists outside the dimensions of space-time, (as the creator), be subjected to the temporal dimensions, and concepts of regret, which necessarily involve a state of being including a state of "before and after", which the linguistics of the concept of regret necessarily involve. Rediculous.

Aric Clark said...

Hi Thomas,

There are many things we could say are impossible or ridiculous for God based on one of various metaphysical conceptual structures we have invented to describe God. But the Bible talks about God doing ridiculous things all over the place - smashing our idols to bits.

Thomas said...

And I can say the moon is made of green cheese, and pound my fist on the table and make that assertion from now to Kingdom Come, and say "lalalalalala" and plug my ears. It does not make it true.

There has to be a reason the Lord gave us brains. Christmas Blessings. I so very much appreciate the civil tone in which people speak here. Very refreshing. I mean it. (:

Aric Clark said...

Blessings to you as well, and glad you're finding it civil.

You're right that bald assertions change nothing and reason (we hope) has to enter into our conversations about God. Ideally we strive for a kind of reason which is gentle and most importantly "open" to critique, and able to change.

Doug Hagler said...
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Doug Hagler said...

@ Thomas: if we take the bible to be evidence about the nature of God, God is described as experiencing regret in the passages listed above. God also changes God's mind; God is negotiated with successfully on more than one occasion, etc.

The entire idea of God existing "outside of time and space" actually has nothing to do with the Bible and a lot to do with the contortions of classical philosophy.

To me, in fact, it is abundantly apparent that the God of the bible is subject to "before and after". Furthermore, it would be impossible for us to say anything even remotely meaningful about something that exists outside of space and time. Our words would be meaningless in the extreme, our concepts useless, theology a waste of time, the Bible gibberish.

So, for me, whether God-God's self is subject to space and time, all of our experiences and understanding of God are subject to both, along with our language, metaphors, relationship to God, and so on.

Ergo, God can regret. :)