Apologetics Thursday – Erickson on God’s Grief

Erickson writes in his What Does God Know and When Does He Know It concerning Genesis 6:6, 1 Kings 15:11, and 1 Kings 15:35:

Perhaps the most we can say from a direct exegetical treatment of these passages is that they teach that God experiences emotional pain as a result of his having created humans and put certain ones of them in positions of leadership. Whether they teach that God changes his mind, and if so, whether this entails the idea that God must not have known antecedently what was to take place, remains to be decided.

Erickson, Millard J.; Erickson, Millard J. (2009-08-30). What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?: The Current Controversy over Divine Foreknowledge (p. 20). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

This is a fairly odd claim. The repentance/sorrow/emotion is causes by something God did previously. God is showing sorrow, not over the events that occurred, but His own action. If His action was a rational and utilitarian best alternative, why the sorrow? Why then couple it with undoing the actions that made God sorrowful (in Genesis 6:6 this involves destroying the world and in 1 Kings 22 this involves revoking Saul as King). This is the normal word for regret and repentance, and only works in 1 Sam 15 as such (between the narrator’s statements, God’s statements, and the statement of Samuel). Erikson, irrationally, is forced to posit a shifting meaning of repentance in 1 Samuel 15.

These texts cannot be more clear about what is happening and the reasons it is happening.

Alternatively, I suggest there are no combinations of words that Erikson would accept as depicting God changing His mind up to an including a statement that says explicitly that God changes His mind.

Leave a Reply