In 2009, the Detroit Lions pro football team placed ads saying “Relive the exciting ’08 season.”  They offered, for a fee, a streamed video of all 16 games.  I doubt that there were many takers.  The Lions lost every game in 2008.  It was a forgettable season for Detroit fans.

I’ve had a few forgettable seasons in my life.  Occasionally, a vivid memory of a shameful moment will come to my mind.  It makes me wince and I wish I could forget.  Also I have noticed that others are not quick to forget our sins either.  Mankind does not forget.  I remember meeting with an elderly pastor who had fallen into disgrace years before.  He looked at me sadly and shook his head, saying “Brian, they will never let you forget.”  Forgetting is not something humans do, yet in Hebrews 10 God says:

17 “ And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more.” (NASB)

This is a quote from Jeremiah 31:34 and it describes the New Covenant that God will make with Israel.  We are experiencing that New Covenant in Christ already.  Lucky us.

Some people say that an omniscient God cannot forget.  The problem lies in the conflict between His power and His knowledge.  Does He have the power to forget?  Certainly.  Is He omniscient if He does?  Good question.  This is another of the great paradoxes of Christianity.  I have always been attracted to this God of paradoxes because He is beyond human comprehension. He should be else we might have just imagined Him.

In the meantime, I must remind myself that my sins are forgiven AND forgotten.


6 thoughts on “Forgotten

  1. Hi Brian,

    I think you know how I feel about paradoxes. Since you mentioned one in this post I couldn’t resist commenting. With that said I would like to offer a solution to this particular example of omniscience vs omnipotence, however feeble it may seem to you. The act of remembering, for us humans at least, is a physical process that retrieves information from past events that was stored in our brains. So, physically the information was always there. The act of remembering brings that old information to the mind’s attention. Not remembering information wouldn’t mean that the information isn’t there in God’s mind. It would mean God would no longer bring it to his attention.

    I guess my solution assumes that God’s mind works much like ours. But, I see nothing wrong with that assumption.

    Also, your blog is awesome

    • Thanks John! I think the paradox lies in this: Omniscience would require God to know everything while His omnipotence would allow Him to forget.

      As for brain storage, your explanation is sensible if we assume a purely mechanistic understanding of humanity. Does the soul/spirit remember? I think it does.

      • Well, I tried.

        I guess the simplest way to solve the paradox problem would be to redefine what it means to be omnipotent. Stating that omnipotence means that God can do anything contradicts what the bible says about what God can and cannot do. James 1:13 is a great example.

        ‘Can God create a stone so big even he cannot lift it?’ I am going to analyze this question for fun.
        The act of lifting requires that the lifter lift an object using kinetic energy against the force of gravity so that the object’s overall potential energy increases. Since this is a physical act and God is nonphysical (as far as we know), It is safe to say that God cannot lift anything. However, Jesus’ power and authority to do things was given to him by his father (John 13:3, Matthew 28:18, John 5:27), so he could lift things, and assuming Jesus is as powerful as his Father, could create things too. So could Jesus create a stone so big, even he could not lift it? I believe the answer is no. Jesus could always lift the stone.

        A purely mechanistic understanding of humanity is the only understanding that can be completely understood. If the mind of a soul/spirit operates anything like the mind of a living person, (capable of recalling stored information/bringing it to attention) then it would need a vessel that it could draw information from, such as a brain, electromagnetic waves, electronic data storage devices, or molecular structures such as DNA or RNA. But I guess those are all physical vessels, and spirits/souls would be non-physical, making my argument irrelevant. Sorry about this paragraph of irrelevance, I get carried away.

        • I have this feeling that if I begin to answer this, that we will create an eternal thread. Who says that we can completely understand humanity? I think a purely mechanistic view misses the boat. We are much more than machines. Let’s carry this on in a facebook chat some time?

  2. James 1:13 comes to mind.. “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”

    So, I’m thinking, what causes the forgiven whatever to come back into the thoughts? What is the motive of the thought’s return?

    Great stuff to rest in on this Sunday and every day Brian! Thank God are sins are forgiven and forgotten and His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways not my ways!!

    • I am not sure I understand your question Jennifer? What is the motive of the thought’s return? Who is doing the thinking?

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