Christians have long affirmed that God is unchangeable. In recent years, however, advocates of a theory called open theism have argued that God can and does change and that we can cause that change. They find their support for this in passages such as Genesis 18, where Abraham intercedes before the Lord for Sodom and Gomorrah, and God seemingly changes His mind. They claim further support from passages like Jeremiah 18:7–10, Jonah 3:10, and Genesis 6:6, which speak of God repenting or relenting or being sorry.
The Flood: Was God Sorry for Making Man?
For example, at the time of the global Flood, Genesis 6:5–7 tells us that God was “sorry” that He had made man on the earth:
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 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.
The fact that God is “sorry” that He had made mankind does not mean that He thinks His decision to create them was a mistake. Rather, the focus of God’s sorrow is the wickedness of mankind1 who not only bears His image, but was once without sin in His very good creation (Genesis 1:31; cf. Ecclesiastes 7:29). Though post-Fall, the intent of man’s heart was only evil continually, God’s heart is grieved because of this.