Saturday, December 29, 2018

God Repenting: Insight from an 1865 Bible Commentary

While doing some research for a book that I am writing on the open view of the future, I found a quote about "God repenting" in the Bible from an 1865 Bible commentary that I thought was very interesting and wanted to share:

"God is often spoken of in the Scriptures as repenting, —as, for example, at the flood, (Gen. vi. 6,) and during the sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness, (Exod. xxxii. 14;)—while, on other occasions, it is said that “God is not the son of man, that he should repent,” (Num. xxiii. 19,) and, in Rom. xi. 29, “that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” We may here remark how false and unfair that method of interpreting the Scriptures is, in which one class of passages—that which each considers favourable to his own peculiar views—is adduced and dwelt upon, while others, which he regards as unfavourable, are passed by unnoticed. In order that the whole truth may be elicited, both classes of passages should be examined and compared with each other. In accordance with the passages just quoted, it is as erroneous to say that God cannot repent of anything as simply to ascribe to him human repentance."
Barth, Christian Gottlob The Bible Manual: An Expository and Practical Commentary on the Books of Scripture (London: James Nisbet and Company, 1865), pp. 405, 406

Now, this does not mean that the author of this commentary was an open theist (and seriously doubt that anyone was labeled such a thing back then anyway). It is possible that the person held to a strict Arminian view of God's foreknowledge. The quote is only to say that there were some theologians, even in the earlier centuries, who did not buy into the idea that Scripture does not mean what it says when it says that God "repents" or "changes His mind".

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