Last spring I taught a course at Northern Baptist Seminary titled “OT 458 Old Testament Theology: The God of the Old Testament.” This course is a required course for students who are planning to complete their Master of Divinity degree at Northern Baptist Seminary.
You can learn more about this course and its objectives by reading my post “The God of the Old Testament.”
One of the requirements of this course is that each student is required to write a research paper on one of the theological issues dealing with the God of the Old Testament. Each paper must focus on one characteristic of God as found in the faith of the people of Israel.
As a result, I have selected a paper, “The Repentance of God,” which I think deserves to be read by a wider audience. The paper was written by Ming Zhang, one of my students in the course “OT 458 Old Testament Theology: The God of the Old Testament.”
The posts below, written by Ming Zhang, were taken from his paper. The reason for sharing this paper is because it deals with an important aspect of the character of God, a God who is willing to change his mind in answer to prayer and for the sake of the people. Mr. Zhang’s paper is worth reading.
Studies on the Repentance of God
The Repentance of God – Part 2
A Compassionate and Gracious God
God’s Repentance and Human Response
The Constancy and Repentance of God
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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ooops, Is God willing to change his mind?, it sounds interesting but …. of course I´m going to read the papers.
Read them and let me know what you think.
The papers explain the difficulties in understand this topic; I think that there are many anthropomorphisms, and God appears with human feellings but He never changes his mind, He appears like a human being, of course, because He maintain relations with the people, and in his relations shown variations. It´s different to say that God repentance from anything, God come to us in the words in the bible in human language. Others authors explain these difficuties, for example, as a conditional prophecy, God knows the answer of his people, but present his desires as a decrees in order to move his people to react in the way that God desires, we can say that “the God decrees activate the prayers of his people”, of course God knows the reactions of the people and He knows how the people will be change his activities, in this line of thinking, the words of God show his mercy and love as a “repetance” but his final proposal never change.
Thank you for your comment. The answer to the problem is not as easy as others make it to be. Dismissing what the Bible says and teaches by claiming anthropomorphism is a weak argument. To say that “God appears with human feelings but He never changes his mind” is to contradict what the Bible teaches. We cannot evade the teaching of the Bible by using what people call “conditional prophecy.”
If you send me your email address, I will be glad to send you the articles by Fretheim and Kuyper. Maybe their argument will convince you that what the Bible says about God is the real truth about God.
Thank you Dr. for repost my comment, as you said it´s no easy to understand. I think, as I wrote, that the Bible uses the human language for understand God and his ways, so the apparent change of mind of God, is a way to show his mercy and a way of incarnation. He incarnates in words, phrases, that we can understand; but I don´t think that God changes his decrees or his desires, I think that th Bible show us a God with human feellings because He is a “person” o a divine being who can interact with the humankind.
Thank you for the offering of the articles, my e.mail famorod at hotmail.com (I´m a a teacher in a little seminary in Colombia, some years ago Dr. helped me with some books)
I hope you enjoy reading the articles. There is much to learn in those articles.
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I think you will find this relevant – a lecture by Nicholas Wolterstorff on the wounds of God, an idea developed by John Calvin – that any injury to one of God’s creatures is an injury, a wound to their Creator, God.
Thank you for the link. I will visit the site and read the lecture.