If God is unchanging, then how is God free to create the world?


It depends on what sense. If you mean that God is forced to create. No. If you mean that God was always going to create because God is love, then yes, creation was never not going to happen. It happened not because of a lack of a decision, but rather because it was a perfect decision made by a perfectly loving being.


I’m asking, because I’m not convinced your premise is correct. For example, consider these words God spoke:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14)

Simple logic tells us this is a conditional statement. If some condition is met, then some event will occur. In this case, God is saying that if they repent, only then will He forgive and bless them. But if they don’t repent, then He won’t forgive and bless them. His behavior will change based on how they act. Doesn’t this mean God does change His behavior?


But we know faith and reason cannot contradict, which is why the constant of Christian tradition for 2,000 years has placed primacy on the unchanging nature of God, and interpreted certain scriptural passages in that framework.

Same thing is true for how we interpret Scripture in other ways. If we say God is Love and hold that as our primary framework, then we will interpret all passages accordingly — even if they express some seemingly contradictory aspect of God, like anger or violence, etc.

In philosophical language, we would say God does not have any potentials — but is fully actual. If He could change, then that change would have to be a result from something outside of Himself. But then He would not be God, the Ultimate Cause of everything. At least that’s one (probably inadequate) way of getting at it.


Seems to me 2 Chronicles 7:14 shows God obviously has potential to forgive or not to forgive, and to bless or not to bless. But am I missing something?


I would say we’re missing the human element of the text: The way humans relate to God. Scripture is God “condescending” to our level, as it were.

And not only that, but God’s unchanging nature is felt differently by our changing, finite human natures. God is forever Love, but when we sin, God’s justice may feel like anger. But He is always Love, and not anger.


God is eternally forgiving as much as God is eternally loving. God is eternal mercy, and that mercy is ultimately expressed through the sacrifice of Jesus. It’s not that God conforms to our decisions. That would be an error. Rather, creation changes in the presence of Gods eternal nature. It is we who either conforms to Gods eternal forgiveness and grace or rejects it. We experience this process in a temporal sense and the bible expresses this symbolically in human terms. But Catholic1seeks is correct. God does not change at all.


If you’re speaking of 2 Chronicles, it’s presented as an exact quote of God, rather than someone’s interpretation of God’s actions. It’s God himself saying that if conditions are met then he will act a certain way.

Isn’t it possible that God can change his behavior (based on how you or I act) without changing his nature?

For example, if you commit a mortal sin, and never confess or repent or do penance for that sin, won’t you find yourself in hell? But if you do confess and repent and do penance, won’t God forgive you for that sin?


What does it mean for God to “talk”?


Agreed, God doesn’t change in nature. But his actions are predicated on our behavior. Right? If I commit a mortal sin, whether or not God forgives me is predicated on whether or not I confess the sin and repent, I think. Or am I mistaken?


My understanding is that when God spoke to a prophet of the Old Testament, the prophet heard what God said word for word, and so recorded each word as God said. Hence these words of God are often put in quotations in the books of the Old Testament. In this case, it appears Ezra was the one to whom God spoke, and he recorded the words.

In the case of the New Testament, there are fewer examples of such word for word communication, but the New Testament authors are said to be inspired so that what they wrote was accurate, albeit not direct communication from God.

But am I mistaken?


It is the contingent human, Mary, who had potential to CO-OPERATE with God, to CO-CAUSE with God.
God NEVER knew the Son becoming Man apart from a JOINT-CAUSAL Act.

The LORD, ‘I AM’, ALWAYS knew that when the contingent human named Mary jointly knew what he knows, that she would be the Mother of the Son of the Most High, then the Son would become Man. HE ALWAYS KNEW : She did not ALWAYS know, she knew in a moment of temporal recognition, and suddenly she and God knew TOGETHER as CO-CAUSAL AGENTS.

Everything that God does on earth in time is with his servants in CO-OPERATION, both with his Angels and his Human Servants. That is how he appears to “change in time”, yet does not ever change.

God’s CO-OPERATOR is the one with potential, and therefore we can see the Will of God happen temporally due to the servants’ Co-Operation, Co-Knowing, Co-Causing.

Jesus called us who are servants of the LORD to pray, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, …” so that God’s Will might temporally BE in creation, and not just eternally be in the mind of God - yet in his mind, he knows himself Co-Causing his will WITH us when we really pray in time, so at that moment there is a joint will of the LORD and his servant, who is temporal. God NEVER knows himself doing anything ALONE in Time, always anything temporal or contingent he knows as done with Co-Operation, Co-Willing, Co-Knowing with a contingent being (a man or an angel).

John Martin


No. It’s a conditional, but that doesn’t imply that God doesn’t have foreknowledge. As this prophecy is being communicated to its intended audience, they don’t know what will happen, but God already knows what will take place. Therefore, the ‘conditional’ here is ‘conditional’ from the perspective of the audience, but already known by God.

Yes. On one hand, you’re misapplying the word ‘potential’ here, inasmuch as, in this context, it’s being used in a philosophical sense, and not just the everyday dictionary sense.

On the other hand, you’re attempting to impose the temporally limitedness of human knowledge on God. That’s an error. God does not have to wait for ‘time’ to ‘unfold’. He simply knows.

sigh. OK: let’s try again. (I’m not God, so my knowledge is imperfect and limited. So, the example won’t be perfect, but hopefully, it will be illustrative):
Suppose I say to you, “@spockrates, if you post your notion that God has potential again, I’ll refute it again. But, if you turn from your misunderstanding and admit that God is immutable, I’ll praise your insight.” That’s a conditional, right?

But, suppose that I already have a very good idea that you’re gonna say, “but… that explanation doesn’t make sense!”, which means I have a very good idea that I’m going to have to reply again. In that case, there’s no conditional on my part. I know I’m going to reply to you again, even though that action is conditional on your act. I just know – ‘prior’ to your action – what will transpire. Therefore, there’s no ‘conditional’ for me.

Make sense?

Umm… Jesus. Is. God. :wink:


State of decision is state of potentiality.


Ahh, but @catholic1seeks is saying that God doesn’t decide. So, no ‘potentiality’ there…


The changing world is not God.


God eternally knows himself delivering Israel from bondage in Egypt.
But not really. It is not happening eternally.
He actually eternally knows himself delivering Israel jointly with Moses who is saying to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.”
But Moses is not eternally saying this to Pharaoh.

God knows himself causing created reality when someone “not God” joins him in knowing and acting.
Moses does not know anything about this until the Angel of the LORD calls him in the burning bush.

But, after that, Moses and the LORD are knowing the same thing, and the people of Israel are freed.
How? What God knows eternally is joined by Moses in his knowing and doing and commanding of Pharaoh.
God’s knowing became a material reality outside the mind of God when Moses, who is material reality outside the mind of God, fulfilled God’s knowing of Moses knowing.

John Martin


Thank you. Seems as though I have much to learn! If you have the time, please define potential in the philosophical sense. :slight_smile:


No problem! Hereyougo!


Yeah, no. Dude! If I wanted to stare at a statue, I’d go feed pigeons in the park instead of talking with you! :wink:

I mean, do you know what I mean, or should I explain my offbeat humor?


I was confirming his argument. :wink:

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