The Flexibility of God

In my studies in recent years I’ve focused a great deal of energy and attention on trying to understand the nature of God. This is not a purely intellectual pursuit, as the way we see God has huge implications in terms of how we view different religions, and their doctrines. Our view of God affects the way we understand salvation, predestination, sin, judgment, and many other important issues.

In my writing (both on this blog and in my books) I have presented arguments that point to God’s sovereignty over all events, owing to the attribute of ‘omnipresence’ that I believe God has. If God is everywhere, then it follows that He is making all events and activity happen.

But the point I want to make in this brief post is that there is a certain flexibility in the will of God. God is a living God. He did not set the universe in motion, and then recline back on His throne in heaven and watch while everything unfolds in a mechanical fashion, as deists or determinists might argue. There is not separation between God and creation in this way, but instead God’s presence pervades every part of the universe, and there is nowhere in existence where God is not.

In the book of Psalms, we read: “Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places.” (Psalm 135:6) This scripture depicts an active God who is present everywhere. Also, in the Book of Acts, Paul says, speaking of God, “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This scripture depicts the kind of panentheistic God I believe in; a God who is greater than His creation but all of His creation exists within Him.

In Unlocking the Bible by David Pawson, which I’m currently reading, there is a quote which stood out and prompted me to write this post. Here’s what Pawson says:

“There’s a flexibility in God’s sovereignty that we really must hold very precious, lest we slip in to the idea that God has predetermined everything, and we do not matter.” (p647)

I love Pawson’s use of the word ‘flexibility’. If God is living, and omnipresent, then in every moment He has the power to choose how He unfolds the story of creation.

Now it may be the case, as Christians would argue, that God has a plan for His creation, which He has revealed in Scripture. I am not denying that God can make plans. What I am arguing is that there is nothing to stop God from choosing to unfold His creation in any way He chooses. God may make plans for the future, but they are not determined until He brings them about. This is the flexibility of God, and if you think about it, it’s a wonderful thing.

20 comments

  1. It kind of reminds me of the discussion God has with Moses in Exodus 32:9-14. God was done with the rebellion of the children of Israel. His anger was fuming but changed his mind of total annihilation. What an awesome and fearful Lord.

  2. I agree, I think we put God in a very limited box. His ways are far beyond ours, and I fully believe he can change his mind and make plans as much as he darn well pleases. Nothing is set in stone with him, except one, that he sent his son to overcome death for us. Great read, thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Steven, nice to meet you. Overall, I agree with the premise of your post, that God is most certainly flexible. However, I believe the flexibility is contained within borders dictated by His attributes. For instance, God can do anything, but He cannot lie, for this belies His attributes. I think some of the comments above are well-meaning, but cast God’s “flexibility” in too loose a frame. God is flexible … to an extent. Good job.

    1. Hi David! A pleasure to meet you too, and thank you for your comment.

      I actually agree with your statement that God’s flexibility is contained within borders dictated by His attributes. For instance, I don’t believe God can cease to exist, because part of His nature is being. So from a certain perspective, that’s a limitation. And I could give several other examples along the same lines. I actually find it hard to believe that God couldn’t lie, and I’m mindful of this scripture:

      The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.

      But I’m also aware that you may be referring to this scripture:

      in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time

      …and if you have a very high view of Scripture, you may take this to mean that God cannot lie under any circumstances.

      Anyhow, thanks again, I’ve subscribed to your blog and will look forward to your future posts.

      Peace and blessings,

      Steven

      1. I’m with you, Steven. Technically, of course God can lie if He wants to, but He would never do so. My main point is that His flexibility is not quite as unwieldy as, not you, but some of your readers seemed to indicate in their comments. Their are certainly limits, especially as those regard His divine will.

        Anyway, next week I’ll be home from work for a day or as we gear up for this ferocious storm set to hit us here in Florida. I’ll check out some more of your blogs and comment if I have anything worthwhile to say. Glad you found me. David E.

        1. Thanks, David. I will certainly say a prayer that you do not suffer the effects of the storm too badly. And I will look forward to interacting with you in the future, whether it be on your site or mine. Great to be connected 😊

          1. Hi Steven, thanks for the kind words. I printed out your essay, “An Almighty Predicament.” Looking forward to reading it and giving you some feedback.

            On another note, I sent you a Facebook friend request.

          2. Hi Steven, me again. Hey, I read your essay “An Almighty Predicament,” and found it well written and thought out. I also watched your video on FB and found you to be a sincere and thoughtful guy.

            Regarding the first part of your essay, the “negative part,” the biggest problem I had was that your premises were way off-base, specifically, the idea that we have no free-will because God is omnipresent. It’s like basing an entire argument that England has the world’s largest population. If you base an argument on a flawed premise, it can’t hold up.

            Any way, I made comments on the essay (which I printed out), but would rather talk about them than write them in an extremely long note.

            With this in mind, would you be interested in Skyping sometime this weekend (there’s a 5-hour difference which we can easily work out). If so, let me know, and we can work out details via Facebook messenger (for privacy’s sake)? I think it would be fun. Let me know what you think.

            In Christ,
            David Ettinger

            1. Hi David!

              Many thanks for taking the time to read my essay, and I sincerely hope you’re not being affected too badly by the storms. Praying for you.

              Obviously I disagree that my argument is based on a false premise, but I would relish the opportunity to speak with you more to try to help you understand my perspective.

              My preferred mode of contact would be email, as I like to have time to think things through and respond in a thoughtful way. If this is acceptable, you can find my email address on the contact page and I will look forward to reading your thoughts.

              Peace and blessings,

              Steven

            2. Hi Steven. Email is good, and your reasoning for it is sound. Saturday is still a good day for me, so I’ll email you on Saturday with some thoughts. And just to ease your mind, I’m definitely of the mindset that says no matter how two people differ in their views, they should always present themselves in a respectable and civil manner. And besides, I not angry or upset whatsoever by your views, I just differ.

              I should mention, too, that I thought the second part of your essay was excellent.

              So, in the meantime, enjoy what I believe should be much cooler and calmer weather in the UK, and we’ll be waiting to see what Hurricane Irma does (scheduled to start feeling the effects here in Orlando late in the day Sunday).

            3. That’s great, David, thank you. I’m pleased to hear you’re happy to email.

              I agree that we should always disagree in a respectful way, and having been an atheist in the past, as well as someone interested in Eastern spirituality, I have no reason to be annoyed with anyone who believes differently to me.

              I’m glad you enjoyed my presentation in the second part of the essay 🙂

              God bless you and I’ll look forward to hearing from you on Saturday if you get the opportunity to write.

              Great to be linked up on Facebook too 🙂

              Steven

            4. Hi David. Loved reading your testimony, really wonderful, and God has clearly blessed you with a gift for writing because it was all so clear and easy to follow.

              Wonderful to read how much you love your son and that you have been able to stay on good terms with Barb 🙂

              Nice photo of you with your grandson too 🙂

  4. Just to add my viewpoint, as “some of the readers” I believe that we are actually on the “same page” and are saying virtually the same thing. Sometimes comments lack the ability to speak back and forth and hear the real content of a viewpoint. And personally I tend to make a comment on the part of the post I agree with and simply do not feel the need to bring up trivial aspects that I might see a little differently. What would be the purpose? But since a comment was mentioned about what the “the readers” seem to believe, I figured I would go more in depth with my opinion. I believe that God is beyond human reasoning. I believe that his ways are FAR superior to our own. And when the word “flexible” comes into play I think he can choose to do what he desires and goes outside the box. For example in John 9, Jesus spits on the ground and puts clay in someone’s eyes to bring healing. Why didn’t he just say, “be healed’? Well because he is flexible and doesn’t have to do it the way human reasoning believes. Yet, he is the SAME, yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13) His attributes do not change, just our view of him as HE is over and above and beyond what we think. He doesn’t change like shifting shadows as James explains. So he is constant. I think that we, as humans, sometimes see different aspects of the same God. In fact Numbers 23:19 states, ” God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Here you can tell that he is not like us in the fact that when he makes a promise he is sure to fulfill it and will not LIE. Anyway — hope this explains more in depth my viewpoint on the subject and clears up any misconceived ideas.

    1. Hey, Beehopper! Yep, that’s all very clear 🙂 Totally understand that comments have their limitations. It can be tough sometimes, and no one wants to be misunderstood. God bless you and thanks for expanding on your views 🙏🏻

  5. Reblogged this on My Hope Is In Thee and commented:
    I often thought many times how grand it would be to know the deep things of God. He knows all out thoughts and deeds

    Romans 11:33-34

    33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

    34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Great Article
    Cathey Lynn

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