Does God Change Or Does Not Change His Mind ?

Ibn Hazm (994CE-1064CE) was a Mus­lim schol­ar of great repute from Cor­do­ba, dur­ing the Mus­lim Spain era. He is wide­ly regard­ed as the Father of Com­par­a­tive Reli­gion”. In his cel­e­brat­ed mag­num opus enti­tled Kitab al-Fasl fi al- Milal wa al-Ahwa’ wa al-Nihal, he pre­dat­ed mod­ern Bib­li­cal tex­tu­al crit­i­cism by sev­er­al cen­turies and as Krentz admits, Ibn Hazm’s crit­i­cisms gen­er­al­ly rep­re­sents the first, albeit rudi­men­ta­ry, sys­tem­at­ic his­toric crit­i­cism of the BibleEdgar Krentz, The His­tor­i­cal Crit­i­cal Method (Fortress Press, 1975), p. 41. He had demon­strat­ed his prowess in Bib­li­cal tex­tu­al crit­i­cism by giv­ing many exam­ples of inter­nal con­tra­dic­tions in the Bible. The fol­low­ing Bible con­tra­dic­tion was extract­ed from Mus­lim Under­stand­ing Of Oth­er Reli­gions : A Study of Ibn Hazm’s Kitab al-Fasl fi al-Milal wa al-Ahwa’ wa al-NihalSee Ghu­lam Haider Aasi, Mus­lim Under­stand­ing Of Oth­er Reli­gions : A Study of Ibn Hazm’s Kitab al-Fasl fi al-Milal wa al-Ahwa’ wa al-Nihal (Adam Pub­lish­ers, 2004), pp. 92 – 114 for a sum­ma­ry of Ibn Hazm’s major crit­i­cisms of the Pen­ta­teuch. and insha’al­lah this will be part of an ongo­ing series to repro­duce extracts of Ibn Hazm’s crit­i­cisms of the Bible and Chris­tian­i­ty and fur­ther elab­o­ra­tion on our part to refine his argu­ments in order to solid­i­fy the charges against the Bible.

Does God change or does not change His mind ? Accord­ing to Ibn Hazm, Exo­dus 32:10 – 14 and 33:3 – 14 ascribes al-bada’ (chang­ing of mind) to God and hence this presents a prob­lem to the nature of God and His char­ac­ters with regard to His All-Know­ing attribute.

We quote Exo­dus 32:10 – 14 as follows :

…now there­fore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may con­sume them ; but of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, O LORD, why does thy wrath burn hot against thy peo­ple, whom thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great pow­er and with a mighty hand ? Why should the Egyp­tians say, With evil intent did he bring them forth, to slay them in the moun­tains, and to con­sume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy peo­ple. Remem­ber Abra­ham, Isaac, and Israel, thy ser­vants, to whom thou didst swear by thine own self, and didst say to them, I will mul­ti­ply your descen­dants as the stars of heav­en, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descen­dants, and they shall inher­it it for ever.’ ” And the LORD repent­ed of the evil which he thought to do to his peo­ple.

Yet in anoth­er pas­sage, it seems that there was a dif­fer­ent agree­ment. The fol­low­ing is from Exo­dus 33:3 – 14 :

And I will send an angel before you, and I will dri­ve out the Canaan­ites, the Amor­ites, the Hit­tites, the Per’izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb’usites. Go up to a land flow­ing with milk and hon­ey ; but I will not go up among you, lest I con­sume you in the way, for you are a stiff-necked peo­ple.” When the peo­ple heard these evil tid­ings, they mourned ; and no man put on his orna­ments. For the LORD had said to Moses, Say to the peo­ple of Israel, You are a stiff-necked peo­ple ; if for a sin­gle moment I should go up among you, I would con­sume you. So now put off your orna­ments from you, that I may know what to do with you.’ ” There­fore the peo­ple of Israel stripped them­selves of their orna­ments, from Mount Horeb onward. Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it out­side the camp, far off from the camp ; and he called it the tent of meet­ing. And every one who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meet­ing, which was out­side the camp. When­ev­er Moses went out to the tent, all the peo­ple rose up, and every man stood at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pil­lar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. And when all the peo­ple saw the pil­lar of cloud stand­ing at the door of the tent, all the peo­ple would rise up and wor­ship, every man at his tent door. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his ser­vant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tent. Moses said to the LORD, See, thou sayest to me, Bring up this peo­ple’; but thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now there­fore, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thy sight, show me now thy ways, that I may know thee and find favor in thy sight. Con­sid­er too that this nation is thy peo­ple.” And he said, My pres­ence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

When one com­pares the above pas­sages side by side, the inter­nal con­tra­dic­tions between espe­cial­ly Exo­dus 32:10, 32:14 and 33:2 – 3 on the one hand and Exo­dus 33:14 on the oth­er, clear­ly rais­es many prob­lems of the­o­log­i­cal and moral con­cern from the Bib­li­cal con­text. In this case that was quot­ed above, in spite of God’s deter­mi­na­tion to pun­ish the Israelites for their idol­a­trous con­duct, He did not exe­cute pun­ish­ment due to the inter­ces­sion of Moses who had remind­ed” God of His promise made with Abra­ham and the patri­archs for their descen­dants. This Bib­li­cal pas­sage seems to implic­it­ly sug­gest that this reminder” had made God realise his wrong” deci­sion and have Him repent­ing for it. Such an obvi­ous error” or even to imply such a thing is hard­ly befit­ting any per­son of integri­ty, let alone God, the Almighty.Ibn Hazm Kitab al-Fasl, pt. 1, pp. 163 – 164 ; Ghu­lam Haider Aasi, ibid., p. 105

Hence the impli­ca­tions of Exo­dus 33:2 – 14 com­pared to oth­er Bib­li­cal pas­sages on the char­tac­ter­is­tics of God as dis­cussed by Ibn Hazm is manifold :

(1) God is accused of break­ing His promise and chang­ing His deci­sion and mind ;
(2) God is accused of vio­lat­ing the prin­ci­ples of jus­tice and told lies.

With the prob­lems that are evi­dent in Exo­dus 33:2 – 14, one must either agree to the above accu­sa­tions against God or admit that this is an inter­nal con­tra­dic­tion which does not agree with pas­sages con­cern­ing God and His char­ac­ter­is­tics in the oth­er parts of the Bible. Most cer­tain­ly in this case, Ibn Hazm’s crit­i­cism of the Bible with regard to God con­tra­dict­ing Him­self is thus not with­out basis and here the Bible con­tra­dicts itself internally.

And only God knows best ! Does God Change Or Does Not Change His Mind? 1Endmark

Cite this arti­cle as : Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, Does God Change Or Does Not Change His Mind ?,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, March 14, 2007, last accessed April 14, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​b​i​b​l​e​/​d​o​e​s​-​g​o​d​-​c​h​a​n​g​e​-​o​r​-​d​o​e​s​-​n​o​t​-​c​h​a​n​g​e​-​h​i​s​-​m​i​nd/




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