Did God Regret that He Made Man? (Genesis 6:6-7)

“And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Gen 6:6, 7)

 

Here are two of the primary verses that open theists use to assert that God does not know the future, independent choices or decisions of men. The rationale goes something like this: If God was sorry that He made man upon the face of the earth then He clearly did not see the event coming for which He was sorry. After all, why would He say He was sorry about something He knew was going to happen, and something that was the result of His doing?

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How does God Regret? (1 Sam 15:11, 29)

10 Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night. (1 Sam 15:10-11)

What is meant here when God says that He regretted making Saul king? Some infer that in light of this verse and others like it that God doesn’t know the future. According to them God wanted the best for Saul and He did all He could to set him up for success without knowing what choices Saul would or wouldn’t make in the future. To the open theist, Saul’s disobedience caused God regret because if He only knew the choices that Saul was going to make He wouldn’t have made Saul king. The result being – God, then, regretted His own lack of foresight.

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The Limitless Knowledge of God (Responding to Open Theism)

What is Open Theism?

Open Theists believe that the future is “open” to God and that the future itself is based upon man’s self-determining free will. To put it another way, according to the open theist, God does not know the choices that will be made in the future because they aren’t made yet. He knows the present exhaustively, inside and out. What He doesn’t know is the future; that is beyond His determination.

The open theist will affirm that God does know what He can do or will do in the future but He does not know what man will do. He can know what a man or woman or angel will do to the extent that He can exert influence; but beyond His influence their reaction is a veiled mystery until the decision becomes a reality. He knows the potential possibilities but He does not know the actualities. Part of the reason for such positioning is based upon the open theist’s understanding of ‘Libertarian Freedom’. This notion suggests that man only has true freedom when God does not know what he will choose. Since God does not know the decisions that will be made He does not know the future, and being that the future is open [they contend] man’s free choices are real and not illusory.

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Interpreting Genesis 1

One should approach the opening chapter of Genesis as they would any other portion of the Bible; namely, by trying to understand it within its proper context and in light of other Scriptures. Does the text present itself as straightforward and historical, or poetic and allegorical? With the pervasive advances of naturalistic evolution both inside and outside of the visible church those kinds of questions have become increasingly frequent as it relates to Genesis 1. As a result, many have jettisoned a straightforward reading of the opening chapter of the Bible in order to accommodate evolutionary theory and, in turn, argue that the Bible says something it was never trying to say.

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What about Genesis 2:5?

Did Moses expect you and I to disregard the historicity of Genesis 1 by purposefully changing the order of creation in Genesis 2? That is the assumption that Tim Keller believes makes the “strongest argument” that the author of Genesis 1 did not want to be taken literally.[1] The predominant weight of that assumption is placed on his interpretation of Genesis 2:5. The problem isn’t only the assumption; it’s the inevitable conclusions that result from it. One who would have to essentially say that Genesis 2:5 is the reader’s clue that everything said in Genesis 1 that contradicts the ‘natural order’ is to be jettisoned. So even though God created light on Day 1 before He created the sun, moon, and stars on Day 4, that does not mean what is says; and even though God created plant life on Day 3 before He created the sun, moon, and stars on Day 4, that too does not mean what is says. That amount of weight on a contested interpretation of Genesis 2:5 is simply untenable.

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