Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Does God Change His Mind?

Hi Everyone! Thanks to DP for inviting me to guest-blog for him while he’s in Talinn. It’s a privilege to do so and participate in the ongoing discussions on this blog.

As you can see from my pic, I’m a priest, Episcopalian in my case, serving St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church in Vernon New Jersey, part of the Diocese of Newark and the worldwide Anglican Communion. My own blog is here, but I’m sending everyone over here, because I need your help on a particular question.

At my parish, the Gospel for this coming Sunday is Matthew’s account of Jesus’s encounter with the Gentile woman. She begs him to heal her daughter, but first Jesus demurs, but eventually relents and says, “Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish!”

Here’s my question. Does God change his mind? I mean, on its face Jesus appears to have changed his mind. The same thing happens in Mark’s account as well. And there are other examples too: Abraham bargains with God over the number of righteous citizens of Sodom needed to avert destruction of that city. Moses talks God out of destroying the Israelites after they made the golden calf, to name just two. And there are examples too of God’s unchangingness thoroughout history, too. James speaks of God as having “no variation of shadow due to change.” The book of Wisdom speaks of Lady wisdom being with God and participating in Creation from the beginning of time. And the Prologue to John’s Gospel contains the great “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

I think this is important for all sorts of reasons. But I’m curious before I give you my thoughts, what yours are. Let us know in comments!

The appointed Psalm for Sunday is 133, one of my favorites. Here's an Orthodox version of it that I think sounds pretty cool:

RFSJ, for DP