Does / can God lie?

As I was walking down the stair
I met a God who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish that He would come and stay

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The Second Coming
W.B. Yeats

I’m curious what you think of that poem, and how it applies? As I recall from high school, William Butler Yeats thoughts that history repeats itself in cycles and was somewhere of a Mystic… I don’t think that we found a cycle that mirrored the coming of Christ 100 years ago, even a rough Beast as he alludes to, but wonder what you think.

I have read a few takes on the poem at different times. I think that written shortly after the first world war people were still reeling from the carnage horror and violence that had taken place. Perhaps they were wondering how such a thing could happen and what would it take to stop it from happening again.

Things fall apart that the centre cannot hold. When Godless philosophies and ideologies are set loose they will have their outworking. The social ramifications of modern rational humanism perhaps. The religious basis that western society had previously been built upon coming under strain and giving out.

To me there is a hint at an ‘anti-Christ’ at the end of the poem… a sense of looming darkness and foreboding, Whether this be a human figure or the machinations of government. Perhaps an anti-Christ figure or a movement such as fascism or communism as per ‘Spiritus Mundi’, I wouldn’t be able to say. It may mean different things to different people and perhaps doesn’t need to reflect the thoughts of Yeats himself whatever they were. What it says to me is that things can get far worse before they get any better.

What do you think?

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I am sorry–I think you’re right–it’s in the vein of anti Christ that he was thinking. Good summary of the mood at the time. I enjoy that poem. Thanks.

You are very welcome.

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This, for me, was the kicker that pushed me from YEC to OEC.


Thanks for the long-ago response, Van…by the time you answered, I was off on vacation. The post that I made should not be interpreted as Jesus telling a lie. “You shall not bear false witness” – or however the particular commandment is rendered. It just means that he was brushing them off when He spoke…God is not a man that He should lie — that also is somewhere in the Old Testament (Numbers, I think, right offhand)…great source of discussion though!..

Yeats wasn’t anticipating Fascism in 1919. Apart from being [a fascist]. Soviet Communism had been on a roll for two years. Faith and deference had been eroded as never before, empires had fallen.

I think that God’s nature is what determines what is sinful and what isn’t in the first place. So by definition, God cannot sin. I believe firmly, though, that it is outside of God’s nature to intentionally mislead someone to act in a way that is outside of His nature. If God lied to us, then by definition his lie would be within his nature, and thus could not be bearing false witness in the way he had intended it to mean in the bible as his nature is unchanging. God gives governments the authority, for example, to do what they need to do in order to maintain order. He tells us to obey our government in Romans. Yet frequently governments command their citizens to kill during military conflicts.

There was an interesting recent post here about the determinism of the universe. When do something, we set into motion a causal chain of events as a consequence. God doesn’t make laws frivilously. His every command is there to prevent us from setting off chains of events that will have net-negative outcomes for ourselves and also those around us. Our actions, thus, are judged by the fruits they yield. But again, without the omnipotence of God, how can we predict the fruits of our actions? There’s a chance that stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family could set off a chain of events that is far worse. So every time we move into a moral gray zone, we have to pray and then act according to what we believe God has revealed to us in the scriptures as the best form of action. If we are wrong, God has given us forgiveness through the grace we recieve in Christ. We cannot know the mind of God, and our feelings are sometimes deceptive.

I think that religions are held together by double standards. For example, let’s imagine that I make a claim that I can perform miracles, including raising the dead. At what point would most people conclude that my claims are false (or that I’m a liar)? After I fail to perform a single miracle. My career would be over.

But not God’s. He doesn’t need to perform any miracles in order for his followers to believe that he is a miracle working God. God needs to perform zero resurrections in order for his followers to believe he’s capable of raising the dead.

As far as making false prophecies, CS Lewis held a view that Jesus was mistaken about the timing of his second coming.

Lewis also noted that Jesus’ comment was prefaced with an admission of his own ignorance about it. He candidly shares that “neither the angels nor the son knows … but only the Father in Heaven…”
As I recall Lewis was simply taking Jesus at his own word that his own speculation about it was not actually the final word for timings or dates. The major theme or point of the whole discourse is that we should always be living lives that are attentive, prepared … getting ourselves ready; precisely because none of us do know. The point wasn’t to spawn a whole industry of gnostics calculating and peddling date predictions.


Is it possible that Lewis was wrong about Jesus being wrong?

Are we all held to an immaculate standard about everything we say about everything? Because…good luck with that.

I’m talking about Lewis, not Jesus.

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The problem is this:

The Lesson of the Fig Tree
(Mark 13:28–31; Luke 21:29–33)

32 Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branches become tender and sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you will know that He is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.

Transliterated from the Greek in to Yoda: Truly I say to you no not will have passed away the generation this until all these things shall have taken place.

That didn’t happen. Unless it did taking Jesus’ hyperbolic, allegorical styles in to account and that the preceding events, Temple Destruction and Other Signs, Witnessing to All Nations, The Abomination of Desolation, The Return of the Son of Man did all happen preteristically in the lifetime of the hearers, locally and regionally centred on Jerusalem, not just the literal destruction of the temple. The Greek Abomination of Desolation of Daniel as metaphor works for Rome sacking the temple. Taking metaphor yet further, or/AND back to literal, did the Christians of Jerusalem experience a parousia? The transfiguration on steroids?

There are claims, by Josephus of course.

It all gets very misty.

There is a contrived argument that by this generation, ‘you’, Jesus meant the generation in which these things happened, which for decades I believed was yet future. Well they started to happen in 70 AD and Jesus didn’t return by 100-150 AD but somehow I waved that away. And who were ‘you’?

The only way to make it work is preteristically from 70 AD with support from Josephus.

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God can create however God wants, and God did create however God wants. What God does not want to do and what God refuses to do is lie. My theology is: God is the Truth. The Truth cannot lie, just as Love cannot hate. Hear, O Israel, YHWH, your God is One God. YHWH IS WHO YHWH IS.

Control does not mean to alter them.

Sounds more like an assumption than an argument to me. Certainly defies a lot of Biblical passages. Plenty of verses describing God as hating things in the Bible. Plenty of verses about a spirit of falseness God sends.

I don’t see appearance of age as being a lie anymore than ancestors thinking the sun rose was a deception on God’s part. I mean look at it rise. Its quite obvious it is moving! God the deceiver. If appearance of age is a deception or a lie by God, so was a sunrise for many thousands of years.


One should not read into the assumptions of the old books or take them as fact, but continue to look for the scientific evidence that makes these claims valid.

The people who wrote those books did not have a concept of truth or valid or logic back then apparantly.

A smell a fallacy or two.

I don’t see it being a lie by the definition of the word.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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