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Does God Change?

Reconciling the Immutable God with the God of Love

by Jennifer A. Herrick

Paperback e-Book PDF
Institution: Sydney College of Divinity
Advisor(s): Rev. Dr. David Coffey, Rev. Dr. Stephen Pickard
Degree: M Th Hons
Year: 1998
Volume: 109 pages
ISBN-10: 1581121911
ISBN-13: 9781581121919


The immutable God and the God of Love? Are they compatible? Does God change? Does it matter?

If God is the immutable God, as interpreted from Classical Christian Tradition, a God who remains unalterable, what is the point of prayer? Does prayer, or any of our actions in the world for that matter, have any effect on God? Can we move God? Is God simply a static Being? Is prayer of use if God is absolutely immutable? Does God respond to prayer or to our actions in the world?

Classical Tradition has presented us with a picture of an immutable God, a mono-polar God, who remains unalterable, unchanged, transcendent to our history in the world. Yet scriptural revelation and personal religious experience presents us with a God who, whilst transcendent to the world is also immanent, the God of Love who creates, redeems, a God who is affected by, who responds to, what is happening in the world; a God who listens and relates.

An exploratory structure.

Taking the reader through an exploratory structure utilizing Scriptural texts, Church documents, historical theological and philosophical debate, together with human Judaeo Christian experience carries the aim of discerning and presenting an interpretation of the nature of GodÍs immutability which appears best able to afford some reconciliation of the traditional viewpoint with biblical revelation and personal religious experience. The structure of the thesis thus involves methodological aspects of research, exegesis, interpretation, history, and dialectics.

Our journey sets the overall scene of Scriptural revelation and Conciliar documentation. Presented then are discussions of the most polarised views or interpretations of the nature of GodÍs immutability, that of the traditional interpretation of the Classical view, of a static mono-polar God and the Process view of a dipolar God of becoming. Addressed then in detail is the ensuing immutability debate. Out of this debate emerges that which forms our final focus for discussion and note, a reinterpretation of the Classical viewpoint.

William Norris ClarkeÍs neo-Thomistic consideration of the nature of GodÍs immutability rests on the basis of the notion of the Dynamic Being of God and forms the final focus and basis for our seeking a reconciliation of tradition, scripture and personal religious experience with respect to the nature of GodÍs immutability. Discussion of Norris ClarkeÍs work is supplemented by a consideration of the work of Robert A. Connor, and in support, that of David Schindler. Norris ClarkeÍs classical reinterpretation gives credence both to scriptural revelation and personal experience of GodÍs historical relationality and responsiveness to humankind without betraying the Classical Tradition. With independent support by Connor and in dialogue with Schindler, it becomes the favoured viewpoint.

About The Author

Jennifer Herrick lectures and tutors for the Centre for Christian Spirituality Broken Bay Diocese, Sydney, Australia and for the Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia. She is currently writing her PhD Doctorate with the University of Sydney in contemporary trinitarian theology.