If God “hyper-relationally” operates within our time and space, partners with us, engages us in conflict, binds Himself to us in covenanted relationship, and shifts in His actions and views because of this relationship, then He must also be characterized by what Pinnock terms “changeable faithfulness.” By this term the author means that while God is completely reliable and true to himself, He is at the same time flexible and able to change course, as circumstances require. In other words, God’s character and nature is stable, but God is not static when it comes to His relationship to history; because He is intimately involved with and affected by the world, the relational connection to His creatures necessitates an affected God.
This view of God’s nature stands in sharp contrast to the Hellenized God of Classic Theism. In chapter two, Pinnock suggests the Christian doctrine of God was heavily shaped in an atmosphere influenced by Greek thought. Greco-Roman philosophical categories pressured early theologians into supposing that God was unchangeable and non-temporal, categories that do not square with the biblical portrayal of God as dynamic, involved in the world and changed by it. In response to Aquinas seemingly embraces Aristotle’s “Unmoved Mover” God, Pinnock writes, “Surely the gospel does not view God in terms of changeless thought and timeless being but in reference to historical events. It testifies to a God who became temporal in a man, Jesus of Nazareth, with whose sufferings and death God identified himself.” The Greeks called the category of Divine unchangeability “static perfection” and insisted there was no change or temporality in God. Tertullian, while rejecting other pagan notions, embraced this idea of an absolute unchanging and unaffected God. In response, Pinnock identifies with Karl Barth in embracing the truth that God is revealed in Jesus Christ, a revelation that begs a God invested and tied to time, while being changed and affected by His interaction with it.
Pinnock also suggests because God is hyper-relationally involved with the world and dynamic, rather than distant and immobile, the sequence of time is also marked by changeability, leading to real alternative possibilities. The idea that the Sequence of Time can change is largely understood in light of God-given human libertarian freedom. He suggests that a free, dynamic God crafted beings after His own image as free, dynamic beings that engage in give-and-take relationships with their Creator and Others. I agree and suggest that the Bible itself seems to insist in this freedom when it holds people responsible for their actions, something not easily accounted for by Compatibilists. In explaining his reasoning, Pinnock offers the activity of prayer an example of the intersection where God and Time both experience change.
Drawing on his understanding of both the sovereignty and hyper-relationality of God, Pinnock says, “in prayer God treats us as subjects not objects and a real dialogue takes place. God could act alone in ruling the world but wants to work in consultation. It is not his way unilaterally to decide everything. He treats us as partners in a two-way conversation and wants our input.” Because God is intimately connected to humans in relationship and exercises a general sovereignty that allows for a variety of outcomes within the Sequence of Time, the God of the Bible appears to respond to the needs and petitions of humans. God changes His mind in response to the dynamic relationship of individuals and intervenes in Time in response to these relationships and to execute His ultimate end goals. Prayer changes God and Time because He allows it to influence Him. Obviously, this contrasts drastically with the Classic Theistic understanding of God that prepackages Time as pre-determined and set, while portraying God as simply a programmer of code for the Machine of Time.