Wednesday, October 13, 2010


It is time for our first discussion question. I've heard from a few of you that you would write up a comment for the blog and it wouldn't save. To prevent loads of frustration, I'd recommend copying and pasting whatever text you write into a Word document. If it fails to post, you can simply try again.

The following question comes from the Question Box and can be answered with Theological reflection/study or through personal experience. I ask that our posts do not turn into an intense argument with personal attacks (as is illustrated below).

Here's the question:

What does it mean to say that God is unchanging?


  1. Hmmm…good question. I’ve always thought of it very basically, just to mean that God really never changes! It kinda follows that since He never began and will never end, there’s really no time in between for Him, and change is dependent on time. It’s the whole definition of change: a form of altering or transformation caused by an event in time or specific events over a period of time. So, God really CAN’T change.
    But I think it’s also very interesting to think of what it means to be unchanging. It’s part of human nature to be averse to change (I know I am, generally…I haven’t bought a pair of new shoes in almost three years!) And I don’t mean diversity; that’s different. Having a diverse culture will ALWAYS be better than having an unchanging world. It just wouldn’t work, because we’re human. But when we get to Heaven, we won’t need anything to change ‘cause everything will be just perfect. And the best part of it is that nothing ever WILL change because Heaven IS God!
    The whole topic of God and his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence is so fascinating and thrilling to try and wrap your mind around! It almost starts to hurt after awhile. Nice question. I enjoy meditating on this a lot.

  2. Sebastian,

    I really like your simple answer. It is an amazing thought that does hurt your brain, because it is so contrary to our human life. I struggle with trying to understand God in human terms. Even though I know He is a mystery, I try to figure Him out and put Him in a box. I even try to use reverse psychology on Him. I think that I can trick God into giving me what I want.

    For example, I felt called to marriage most of my life, but felt like I needed to be open to God having another plan. When I finally was open to His plan, I met Brad and found my vocation was marriage. God had the same plan for me all along, but I had to be open to hear His plan.
    My human thoughts take this situation as if I was in control of God. As if my openness was some sort of reverse psychology on God.

    "Fine God I'll take religious life... Wait, what's that you said I am called to marriage. Sweet!"

    NOT SO FAST! To truly be free to choose marriage I have to surrender my thoughts (this goes into Brad's Whyercises-surrender: being open that I could be wrong-my plan might not be His) God did not change His mind because I was open. He is unchanging! I just stopped and surrendered to actually hear His voice. (That was sort of a digression example...sorry)

    Anyways, because of this struggle to understand God in my incapable human brain I have always had a hard time with the God of the Old Testament. I feel like I know the "Jesus-God" from the New Testament, but I am scared of the Old Testament turning people to salt, flooding the Earth God. How does this fit into the "unchangingness" of God? (Because He seems SO different in the two)

  3. Nice reflections so far.

    Katie, I was thinking about the OT/NT problem earlier today.

    Justice and Mercy came to mind...they also don't seem to fit into something unchanging...shouldn't it be one or the other.

    Justice = getting what you deserve.
    Mercy = getting what you don't deserve.

    Maybe you've gone to Confession sometime and you've seen these both play out. The priest really hammers you for what you've done (an experience of justice...getting what you deserve - facing what it was that you did). Then, he turns around and speaks with you about moving forward in God's mercy and absolves your sin (the greatest act of mercy).

    This seems to be parallel to the OT/NT problem. God is right to be just in the Old Testament. And in the New Testament. If I'm, with full knowledge, speeding and driving recklessly, I deserve a ticket and fine. In the OT, those who severed their relationship with God were punished severely...because they knew what they were doing in severing the tie (the covenant had been made known and every covenant brings with it blessings or curses. The Mosaic covenant was literally made with blood.)

    All throughout the OT, God is reaching down to his people, trying to help them along, even when they don't deserve it. He shows them mercy in the desert when they are complaining about how Moses was trying to starve them to death. God's justice could've reigned in that situation, but His mercy shows through as he provides them (even though they were whining and unfaithful) with manna from heaven.

    Ultimately, we see in the New Covenant (that which is made in Christ's blood) in the NT, that God's mercy has made a way. The emphasis on Christ and God's mercy is very prevalent, so seeing the OT and NT as separate could easily happen. But this would be to deny the action of God throughout history.

    Plus, I'll point out that even though Christ became man, suffered, died and rose again, I could still, in my freedom, refuse to accept God. I could, in full knowledge, refuse to life in right relationship with Him (mortal sin), and experience God's justice just as the Israelites did in the OT. They freely chose against the mercy of God, just as we so often choose against it.

  4. Here is the answer to the original question from the Catholic Encyclopedia (


    In God "there is no change, nor shadow of alteration" (James 1:17); "They [i.e. "the works of thy hands"] shall perish, but thou shalt continue: and they shall all grow old as a garment. And as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the selfsame and thy years shall not fail" (Hebrews 1:10-12, Psalm 101:26-28. Cf. Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). These are some of the Scriptural texts which clearly teach Divine immutability or unchangeableness, and this attribute is likewise emphasized in church teaching, as by the Council of Nicaea against the Arians, who attributed mutability to the Logos (Denzinger, 54-old No. 18), and by the Vatican Council in its famous definition.

    That the Divine nature is essentially immutable, or incapable of any internal change, is an obvious corollary from Divine infinity. Changeableness implies the capacity for increase or diminution of perfection, that is, it implies finiteness and imperfection. But God is infinitely perfect and is necessarily what He is. It is true that some attributes by which certain aspects of Divine perfection are described are hypothetical or relative, in the sense that they presuppose the contingent fact of creation: omnipresence, for example, presupposes the actual existence of spatial beings. But it is obvious that the mutability implied in this belongs to creatures, and not to the Creator; and it is a strange confusion of thought that has led some modern Theists — even professing Christians — to maintain that such attributes can be laid aside by God, and that the Logos in becoming incarnate actually did lay them aside, or at least ceased from their active exercise. But as creation itself did not affect the immutability of God, so neither did the incarnation of a Divine Person; whatever change was involved in either case took place solely in the created nature.