How Can God Be Disappointed or Repent?

This is a sample of many studies found in the archives from Thomistic Bent by

This is another in a series of critical questions about the Bible.

Question: The Bible says that God created mankind, then was sorry that He created (Gen. 6:6). It also says God changed His mind, or repented (Ex. 32:14). If God is all-knowing, He would know everything from the beginning, could not become sorry, and could not change His mind. 

In response, this question is very similar to others that have already been addressed about God knowing His future actions and being able to think through situations. See here. 

The Bible also describes God as having hair (Dan. 7:9), a backside (Ex. 33.23), hands and fingers (Ps. 8:3, 6), a mouth (Num. 12:8), lips and a tongue (Is. 30:27), eyes (Ps. 11:4), ears (Ps. 18:6), and other human attributes. But we also know that the Bible describes God as being a spirit (John 4:24) and not being a man that He should repent or have any regret (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29). Still further, the Bible describes God as having wings (Ruth 2:12; Ps. 17:8; 36:7) and feathers (Ps. 91:4). Since a spirit can have none of the physical attributes of a created being, and since one passage says God repents and another says He cannot, how can we reconcile these?

The answer lies both in the language of scripture and in the philosophical approach we use with scripture. We have no trouble when Jesus says he is a door (John 10:7) or a vine (John 15:1), for no one concludes that Jesus was made of wood or was a plant. We do not believe the Bible is literal when it says God parted the Red Sea with a literal blast from His nostrils (Ex. 15:8) or is so large as to measure the seas and the heavens in His hands (Is. 40:`12). We also do not get confused in everyday speech when we say to one another, ‘She’s driving me up the wall’ or ‘I’m at my wits end’ for we know these are figures of speech and do not take them literally. We also know that when the Bible says that the “; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Is. 55:12) that this is not literal, for we know from observation and making logical conclusions about reality that hills do not literally sing or clap.

Therefore we can use our minds to know that the universe did not cause itself to come to exist, there must have been a cause outside the universe that did not come into existence, but always existed, i.e., is uncreated. This cause must not be made of matter, for all matter is finite and all finites are created. An uncreated, nonmaterial, eternal being that has knowledge is infinite and would indeed know all things, and all-knowing things do not change their minds.

We can then discern between the passages that give God human attributes as anthropomorphisms, and the ones that describe God as spirit as literal. God does not change His mind since He knew His plans from the beginning. He nevertheless deals with us on our level in language familiar to our common tongue.

More importantly, an explanation such as this should be rather common and straightforward. That such a question arises is a clue as to the critics’ searching for problems in the Bible rather than reading it fairly to discern its truths.

Christian dropouts


The future of the church is necessarily dependant on the existence of tomorrow’s Christians. While the statistics may somewhat vary from source to source, anywhere from 59%70% of the youth who regularly attended church dropout after they graduate and it is estimated that the return rate on these dropouts could possibly be as high as two thirds (best case scenario) at some later time in their lives. The reality of the matter is that the percentage of dropouts returning to the church is not complete; meaning, some dropouts are leaving for good. The logical conclusion for this decline can only mean a long-term secularization of the United States. While it may not fully affect present-day Christians, Christians of future generations will live in a world where this will become a major problem in how they view the world and how the world views them.

Barna highlights six reasons for this drastic drop in church attendance among the youth after their graduation. The reasons that are cited are that 1) the church seems overprotective (i.e. demonizing the outside world, ignoring real world problems, etc…), 2) their experience of Christianity is shallow (i.e. church is boring, faith is irrelevant to their interests, Bible is taught unclearly, God is missing from their experience, etc…), 3) the church is antagonistic towards science (i.e. Christians think they have all the answers, out of touch with the scientific world, Christianity is anti-scientific, turned off by the evolution versus creation debate, etc…), 4) church is perceived as simplistic and judgmental concerning matters of sexuality (i.e. feel they are being judged for mistakes, teachings on sexuality are archaic, etc…), 5) exclusivity of Christianity (church is afraid of other beliefs, forced to choose between friends and church, church is only for insiders, etc…), and 6) church is unfriendly to doubters and skeptics (i.e. not feeling comfortable to express intellectual doubts about faith to the church).

As a high school youth leader at a local church, I sense these feelings from their behavior. These are good kids and my church is a good church but sometimes it feels like there is a huge disconnect between the kids and the church. There are many other influences in their lives other than the church. As youth leaders, we are in competition with parental, academic, peer, and media influences. Sometimes it feels like an insurmountable uphill battle. Of the 168 hours of the week, they are probably awake 112 of those hours. Of those 112 hours that they’re awake and susceptible to influence, we have around two hours (less than 2%) to make a meaningful and lasting impact on their lives. Given the facts that I provided you, do our chances as youth leaders and pastors look promising? Not necessarily, especially if many of them are leaving at a rate of 59% – 70% after they graduate.

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It Isn’t Love – But it Should Be (RJS)

Our church has some regular small groups (Connection Groups) and a special Monday Night Live gathering which usually follows a book or video series, watching it together then breaking into table roups for discussion and prayer. This next session uses Yancey’s Grace. I sent the leader this blog from from Jesus Creed by   – 12 Comments

What is the first word that comes to mind when I say Christian?

YanceyThis question, and the answers given by non-Christians shape the second chapter of Philip Yancey’s new bookVanishing Grace. Yancey is convinced that all people long for meaning, a sense of purpose, that our life actually matters. We also long for genuine community and a sense of being loved and of belonging.  Christian faith should draw people in, provide meaning, purpose, and belonging. Yet far too often this is not reality.

When I ask, “Tell me the first word that comes to your mind when I say “Christian,” not one time has someone suggested the word love. Yet without question that is the proper biblical answer.” As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” Jesus commanded his disciples at the Last Supper. He said the world will know we are Christians – and, moreover, will know who he is – when his followers are united in love. (p. 35)

This isn’t an optional command, it is the central feature of Christian community. I collected a number of the New Testament passages that emphasize the centrality of the commandment to love in a post a year ago It is a Conundrum Pt. 1.  But what does this mean? To explore this Yancey looks at forms of love.

When have you felt loved?

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Cosmologist Luke Barnes answers 11 objections to the fine-tuning argument

from Wintery Knight

This is from the blog Common Sense Atheism. (H/T Allen Hainline)

Atheist Luke Muehlhauser interviews well-respect cosmologist Luke Barnes about the fine-tuning argument, and the naturalistic response to it.

Luke M. did a good job explaining what was in the podcast. (I wish more people who put out podcasts would do that).


Watch Out For Deceivers (Col. 2:6-10) (Sermon Audio)

from Michael Krahn

Every era and every culture has its own philosophers and false teachers who try to lead people away by using the name of Christ as part of their presentation. This is not new. The city of Colossae had it’s competing philosophers and the church there – just like our church now – was always in danger of being taken captive, of being led astray, of being infiltrated by deceptive philosophies promoted by skilled deceivers.

So Paul says “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” We are to walk in Christ; deceivers want us to walk away from Christ. They want to take us captive, basically to kidnap us. They want to set a trap with some tasty bait and then keep us in a cage and then consume us.

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10 Reasons Why Friends and Family Struggle to Believe the Gospel

from Thom Rainer by Chuck Lawless 5 Comments

Southeastern Seminary, where I work, challenged all students, staff, and faculty to share the gospel at least once a day during the month of September. Based on my experiences that month, in addition to years of sharing Christ with family members, here are my thoughts about why my family and friends struggle with believing the gospel.
  1. They have never really heard the gospel. The more I speak to people in North America, the more I realize this truth: some folks on our continent are just as distant from the gospel as unreached people groups around the world. Within the shadows of our church buildings are people who have never heard the truth.
  2. They struggle understanding the Bible. Even for those who are willing to read the Bible, the content is often new – and challenging. If genuine believers wrestle with interpreting the Bible, it shouldn’t surprise us that non-believers face the same battle.
  3. They see the gospel as too good to be true. The story of the gospel really is quite astounding. That the one and only creator God would forgive our sins, make us whole, place us in His family, and indwell us is hard to fathom, especially if the story is new. Nobody I know – believer or unbeliever – fully grasps God’s work of salvation.
  4. They see hypocrisy in the church. I’ve heard this general excuse for years, but more recently I’ve heard the words with specificity. “I don’t expect people to be perfect,” a family member told me, “but if _______ represents what a Christian is, I don’t want to be a part.” We may defend the church all we want, but we must not forget that watching unbelievers see the reality in our lives.
  5. They hear other messages more loudly. Even if a non-believer hears three one-hour Christian sermons per week (which seldom happens), he still hears dozens of hours of other messages throughout the week. The media emphasizes moral stances in opposition to Christian teaching. Preachers of false gospels dominate the television. Political correctness reigns – and the gospel gets clouded in the process.
  6. They are enjoying their sin. There’s no other way to describe this obstacle. Sin can be fun (at least for a while), and some of the people I know are having a good time. Following Christ, they assume, would cost them too much fun. Combining this reasoning with the next reason, they see no need to turn to Christ today.
  7. They believe time is on their side. This is not always the case, of course. Some of my older family and friends are now more willing to talk about eternal matters as they see their own generation passing away. Those who are younger, though, have been more interested in waiting to consider Christianity. No urgency drives them to consider life and death matters now.
  8. They still fail to see their lostness. Their reasoning is neither new nor unique. “I treat people well, and I try to help my neighbors.” “Let me tell you some of the good things I’ve been doing.” “I just don’t believe a good God will send good people to hell.” “I don’t do anything that’s just evil.” Folks who see no need for forgiveness seldom seek it.
  9. They cannot understand the preaching. Obviously, this reason assumes non-believers who have attended church (as does the next one). A family member told me, “I like hearing _______ preach, but I don’t really understand him.” Granted, the Spirit of God helps us to understand the Word, but this message is nevertheless clear: we who preach the Word are not there to impress; we are there to communicate the life-giving message of the gospel. Clarity is a must.
  10. They are overwhelmed by Christian follow up. Frankly, this response has surprised me. Occasionally, a church fully committed to outreach and follow up has been so faithful to the task that they have frightened off a non-believer. I am grateful for churches this passionate, but it’s worth remembering that non-believers may not be prepared for our zeal. Sensitivity matters.

I suppose there are few new findings here, but I needed this reminder. Obstacles to the gospel have not changed much, at least in my experience.

What other obstacles have you found? Comment at:

Frank Turek Is Challenged About The Integrity of the Council of Nicea & the Biblical Canon


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