Monday, April 2, 2012

God's affections controlled by his independence

Here is a verse of Scripture which has caused much difficulty for Christians:

    And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
(Genesis 6:6 ESV)

This regret makes it seem as if God was not only disappointed in mankind and their less than stellar legacy, but it also suggests that their faults and failures were unexpected; this is an odd sentiment from a Being who allegedly is omniscient. How can we reconcile a regretting God with an all-knowing God? Scott Oliphint explains how we must look at this Scripture, and others like it, if we are to take the words of Scripture seriously both in terms of God's character-his essential nature, in this case his omniscience-and his interaction with his covenant people.
Whenever Scripture attributes affections to God, it is incumbent on the reader to make sense of such attributions against the clear backdrop of God's aseity - an aseity, we should remember, that is necessary to his character. That is, as I have said,  it cannot be denied that, prior to creation, there was only God, and that as God he was altogether complete and independent. The hermeneutic applied to passages that speak of God's dependence must, therefore, be governed and controlled by his essential independence, and not vice versa. (Oliphint, K. Scott. God with Us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Print. 210)

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