Theology Thursday: On the Subject of Immutability

Holding a Bible Up in one hand

One of the most common complaints against believing in the God is that God is unfair when it comes to tough things in life. However, to truly know God, is to know that God goes beyond fairness, but stands solidly on never-ending love.

If you look in an older hymnbook you will find a tune that begins with the words, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise.” The title of that hymn echoes the same words depicting God as Supreme, above all things.

God’s Qualifications

When we speak of Yahweh, the living God using these and other descriptive words, we understand that this God is not only above and apart from all things, but also different from all gods completely. He is also known as Creator, the Sovereign Lord and Almighty One. God is a living being, one who gives life, but also sustains it. Incredibly so, God is also personal. This is an important distinction.

God’s Consistency

To know God in an intimate way indicates that we can know God in relation to ourselves and the world we know. Human language allows us to see and experience the real immanence and constant activity of God in our lives daily. In so doing we discover a remarkable attribute that God is therefore, immutable. That is, God’s plans for the world and humanity, as well as his ways of dealing with the world and people do not change. This then, translates into God’s moral consistency. In other words, God as loving God remains a constant, always operating according to his own wisdom and love. What does change is the mind of the human person, through their chosen behaviors. God then, acts in a way that fits the different circumstances of his creatures in accordance with those choices.

God’s Character

God’s immutability (moral consistency), helps us see the “why” of God’s continued faithfulness towards faithless people. God’s character is a revelation of his very nature, of his holy love that is redemptive. If this were not so, we could not trust God. We would be at the whim and mercy of an untrustworthy deity, that dealt out inconsistent decisions. It is the same God who expresses his wrath against a rebellious people who also bestows unmerited grace.

When we say that God does not change, that God is immutable, we acknowledge that God can be counted upon for the right things, for the right reasons at the right time. God’s saving grace then becomes an absolute truth that always leads to God’s good plans for a broken world.

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References:

  • God. (1988). In the New Dictionary of Theology. Intervarsity Press.
  • God. (1994). In The Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Part 1. Intervarsity Press.
  • God. (1997). In the Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments. Intervarsity Press.

 

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