God make mistakes?
made us, and we sure do make mistakes! We couldn't make mistakes
if we hadn't first been given the gift of freedom and accountability,
the capacity to choose and the inevitability of facing the consequences
of our choices. We learn the hard way if we must. So
God doesn't necessarily make mistakes so much as create the kind
of world in which we can. God tolerates our mistakes
for the sake of our freedom. Otherwise, the human experiment
possible to learn from our mistakes. In fact, learning from mistakes
is the best use of them. When we undertake to learn from our
mistakes, God uses them for good all around. The churchy name
we give to this intentional examination of our own error is repentance.
The good God can do with our repentance we call redemption. So
if our learning is made possible by our error repented, then
mistakes have a paradoxical way of growing us up in spirit. How
can that be a mistake in the end?
it ironic that we become people we wouldn't otherwise be by taking
these lessons to heart? Personally and collectively, the human
journey is not about being perfect but about being perfected,
to the extent that we give ourselves to those hard-won lessons
and begin to cooperate with the good God seems to be bringing
out of them. In church talk, we call that amendment of life,
our work to make things right, insofar as we are able, being
wiser from regret.
another level of response to this question that is causing a
good bit of excitement among theologians, who wonder about God
all the time as their work. We might rephrase the question slightly
to ask if God ever has second thoughts. In other words, does
God change, if not by making mistakes, perhaps by getting better
and better? During the history of God, there have been both static
and dynamic views of God expressed by devotees. Scripture is
packed with both views, sometimes side by side.
scientific theories, such as evolution and quantum physics, for
instance, have provided a rich source of metaphorical speculation
about God's nature. Such thought is exciting
to me, because it proposes a God whose characteristic creativity
implies constant change, the exercise and expression of
the same freedom given to us. When you stop and think about it,
it makes sense that the very evolution of human history and its
consequences for all of creation call forth from God new responses
all the time. It's an interactive and emergent view.
even in this view, it's not that God makes mistakes, but that
God has new ideas and takes new actions as God wills. We outgrow
earlier notions of God, and scripture records some of that evolution.
My own notions about God have been transformed over time, and
I hope insistent inspiration will continue to stretch me. Does
God outgrow previous notions about us?! Another
way to ask that is to ask if we can surprise God. Freedom
seems to require that astonishing possibility.
Jesus surprise God by the breakthrough of his choices, by the
singleness of heart that avoided the typical human error? Good
questions typically lead to others.
Rev. Dr. Katherine M. Lehman