I have heard recently a sermon which argued that it would be one-sided for us to emphasize the unchangeable nature of God, for, that preacher argued, God had the ability to take away his unchangeable nature in order to relate with us. Far be it that this is the case. Instead, by looking at Christ, we have a Christological structure with which we can look at the way in which God has always dealt with humanity. In Christ, we have a God who is unchangeable, and all-powerful, yet a God who died on the cross. But in dying on the Cross God remained the God who is all-powerful and sovereign. In other words, in Christ, we see that God had the ability to take on a creaturely attribute that in no way changes who he is essentially. When God took on a human nature, he became hungry, and thirsty, and weak. But in being hungry or thirsty, that never at all negated or changed who God is essentially as all-powerful, sovereign, and unchangeable. God, again, has the unique ability to remain who He is as sovereign while at the same time taking on creaturely properties to relate with finite people. Just as God had the ability to remain necessarily all-powerful and to freely die on a cross by taking on a creaturely form, so God had the ability to question Adam and Eve and “change his mind” while never compromising that He controls all things that comes to past. God dying on the cross did not change who He is as God. God condescending to “change his mind” didn’t change who He is as all-knowing; His walking in the garden in a specific location did not negate the fact that God was omnipresent. But his death was still real, and his change of mind was still real, and his walking in a garden was still real.
Yet in all of this we prioritize God’s absolute and essential character as sovereign. To make his “change of mind” as equally ultimate as His essential character as all-controlling would be to mistake who God is as He condescends in taking on creaturely properties for who God really is essentially. And to say that God cannot really relate with his people if God had controlled everything that comes to pass would be equivalent to arguing that God, in Christ, can’t really die if He really is all-powerful (Notice that Paul starts with who God is essentially in Col. 1:15-17 before he talks about what God had done in condescending for his church in verses 18-20). Mystery is the lifeblood of Christianity, as Bavinck contends. And it is only when we wish to make the laws of logic absolute that we run into trouble – given that God is who he is, it is of no surprise that we will come across such paradoxes. Why prioritize the aseity of God of God as that which is essential to him? Because these are the attributes that God has even apart from and prior to creation – attributes that imply God’s complete sovereignty over that creation, as Isaiah 46:9-10, and Lamentations 3:37-38 seem to demand.
These central insights are my summaries of K. Scott Oliphint’s contributions in his important book, God With Us, and in the summary of that book in an earlier article on the Westminster Theological Journal, called “Something Much Too Plain To Say.” These two works seek to apply what we know, as Christians, from traditional Christology to the realm of theology proper. It seems to me, that once we understand that we Christology guides theology proper, the impetus for any form of arminianism would be evaporated, because Arminianism argue for the basic incompatibility between God’s essential aseity and his contingent covenantal properties.