Thursday, October 22, 2009

Theodoret of Cyrus: God Does Not Have Second Thoughts

Why was the bulk of the human race wiped out by the flood? ... He did this, not, as some commentators claim, out of anger or on second thoughts, as these are, of course, human states, from which the divine nature is free. Second thoughts are typical of those who learn how things really stand only after experience; they make their plans in ignorance of the future, but later, in the light of experience, realizing that their decision was wrong, have second thoughts. By contrast, God sees what will happen many generations in the future as if it had already happened; it is with foresight and foreknowledge that he governs the universe. Why, then, would he have second thoughts when he plans everything in accord with his own foreknowledge? In God's case, therefore, a second thought is a change in the plan of salvation: "I have second thoughts about anointing Saul king" is equivalent to "I have decided to depose him and appoint someone else." Similarly, in this case: "I regret making the human being," means "I have decided to destroy humanity." But being merciful he preserved Noah as seed for the race.

- Theodoret of Cyrus (around A.D. 393 to around A.D. 457), Questions on the Octateuch, Question 50 on Genesis, p. 107 (2007), Robert C. Hill translator.