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J. Feinberg writes in the introduction to his book, No One Like Him:

But even if all the propositions of a systematic theology are true, that theology would still not be equivalent to biblical revelation! It is still a human conceptualization of God and his relation to the world… But human intellect is finite, and hence there is always room for revision of systematic theology as knowledge increases.[1]

With this premise in mind, I propose to begin a series of posts entitled, Objections to Classic Theology. The purpose of such posts will be two bring out points of disagreements that I perceive within classical theology in the hopes of stimulating discussion. Consequently, I implore all who read these posts to feel free to leave their disagreements with my view in the reply with the expectation that we will have a respectful dialogue. Furthermore, I will not necessarily be publishing these posts in sequential order but as I randomly consider different aspects of classical theology. So, without further ado, let us delve into my first objection:

God is Immutable!

W. Grudem defines the immutability of God as “that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in his perfection and in his purposes and promises… and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth and decay in His Being or perfections.”[2]

Therefore, immutability is negation of any change in God’s essential being or necessary attributes. God cannot change. This seems to line up with scripture which says God cannot lie (Num 23:19); neither does he shift like sand (Jms 1:17). However, such a view does not completely line up with totality of scripture. In fact, it is an error of logic to say that it does.

First, however, I must lay out one brief presupposition: Scripture is inerrant. My entire argument is based on that one premise. So, if you do not believe in the inerrancy of scripture we can have that discussion another time; but for the present discussion indulge me. Do so, if for no other reason than the majority of those who have taught the immutability of God have done so from the premise of scriptural inerrancy.

 

My argument is as follows:

  1. God is Spirit (Jn 4:24).
  2. The Word is God (Jn 1:1)
  3. The Word is Spirit (Jn 1:1)
  4. Jesus is the Word (entire Gospel of John)
  5. Jesus was raised to a physical bodily resurrection (Lk 24:39)
  6. Jesus is still God, so God changed from Spirit to physicality.

Therefore, God cannot be immutable.

The immutability of God cannot be upheld by the truth of the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus. Even if one holds to the kenosis of Jesus and the creeds assertion of two natures joined into one without mixture to form the GOD-MAN. Jesus would have had to have been the GOD-MAN from all of eternity past. This is simply not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that at ordained period within human history, God broke in and took on flesh in the person of Jesus, who then was the GOD-MAN. This is simply an error of logic.

Nor can one say that Jesus was speaking metaphorically about God being Spirit. As G. Lewis points out concerning John 4:24, “Although some theologies consider “spirit” an attribute, grammatically in Jesus’ statement it is a substantive.”[3] In other words, spirit is the substance (or essential stuff) of God. If the essential stuff of God changes then He cannot be immutable according to the definition of immutability. God has changed within his being. God cannot be immutable.

 

Feinberg, J.S. and H.O.J. Brown. No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God. Crossway, 2006.

 

Grudem, W.A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Zondervan, 2009.

 

Lewis, G. R. God, Attributes Of. Second ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.

 

 

[1] J.S. Feinberg and H.O.J. Brown, No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God (Crossway, 2006), xxi.

[2] W.A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Zondervan, 2009), 267.

[3] G. R. Lewis, God, Attributes Of, Second ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 492.