Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The all "blank"-edness of God

I was in a discussion with some Christian friends and we got to talking about the sovereignty, all-powerfulness, justice, honesty, all-goodness, and all-knowingness of God. In this case it was in relations to the story of the healing of Hezekiah in Chronicles and Isaiah. God tells Hezekiah that he's going to die; Hezekiah weeps and prays for health; God tells him he can live another fifteen years. The interesting thing is that some of us were coming to the card game as it were ready to play different trump cards as an answer to the problem. If you rely on "all-knowingness", played as a trump card, you're forced to say God knew Hezekiah was going to live another fifteen years and just said this to Hezekiah to teach him some kind of lesson. He seems a bit less merciful or honest here.

Similarly, take the story in Exodus of God being so angry with Israel that he wanted to wipe them out and start over a new covenant with Moses and his seed. Moses prays and then "the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened." The Lord relented in response to a prayer for mercy-- some translations have used the word repent! I had always viewed this story as a demonstration of the ultimate mercy of God, of the ulimate power of prayer, that you could change the mind of God. Now, put on your all-knowingness hat and play that trump card. God knew that he was going to relent so he just said these words to express his anger. Moses' plea didn't have any effect? Perish the thought!

I think that if you're going to evoke a superlative property of God, I think that all-knowingness is a low-number trump, maybe like a four of the trump suit. God's mercy is the ace of the trump suit. Amen.

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