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If we define perfection as "complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement" then the answer may that God is not yet perfect because humans have not always responded as God intended. There seems to be some scriptural basis for this.

For example, 2 Peter 3:9 says:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Logically, if God wishes all to come to repentance but all do not respond, then God's wish is unfulfilled. Proverbs 13:12 says "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life." If we apply this to the situation described in 2 Peter, then God's heart is sick, because His desire has not been fulfilled (that all come to repentance). We also get a sense of God's heart being broken elsewhere in scripture, as the prophets speak of Him as feeling like a husband whose wife has betrayed him, or as a father whose children have gone astray.

The argument for God not being perfect boils down the idea that God desires a relationship with His children and that He suffers when we do not respond to His love. Is this idea heretical, or may Christians accept it without falling into serious error?

(Note: the question does not seek arguments in favor of God's perfection/completeness, but is concerned primarily with the issue of whether or not belief in God's perfection is necessary to Christian faith.)


Addendum: I hope readers will understand the question as I have defined it (the issue of God's "completeness" as opposed to the issue of His moral perfection). I've edited the title accordingly.

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  • Well that is a really broad question because Christian theology as a broad category varies a lot on questions of Gods nature. I think this question needs to be scoped more. For instance, a Catholic finds themselves being required to hold to more of a classical theistic view as compared to other views that may be allowed under other theological viewpoints.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 19:51
  • I would welcome answers from various denominational perspectives. But does any, including Catholicism, require that one must not affirm that God is not perfect in the sense of 'not yet complete?' Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 20:42
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    I think if any attempt to define perfection results in God not being perfect, it's a poor definition. Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 1:02
  • You have a point. Maybe I should have asked "is God complete?" The question of God's moral perfection is something different. Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 14:41

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The Bible says our Father in heaven, who is God, is perfect.

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:32, KJV)

That should settle the matter for Bible-believing Christians. If that verse were insufficient, there are more that agree with it.

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4, KJV)

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him. (2 Samuel 22:31, KJV)

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. (Psalm 18:30, KJV)

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7, KJV)

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2, KJV)

Summarizing these verses, we see that:

  1. His work is perfect.
  2. His way is perfect.
  3. His law is perfect.
  4. His will is perfect.

In short, the Bible teaches that God is perfect. Only the faithless, those who do not know Him or His Word, would question this.

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First and foremost, we need to discern if the English word ' perfect ' as used in Mtt 5: 48 is the perfect translation of the original. The Common English Version uses the term ' complete'. Mind that many languages do not have words which can be called perfectly matching counterparts of the English word. Now, is there a difference between someone or something being ' complete ' vis-a- vis being ' perfect ' ? The Earth, as our dwelling place is a complete entity, but in terms of geometry, it tilts, and is therefore not perfect ! And that is only one of the myriads of examples where completeness versus perfection. So, myself, as a Roman Syrian Catholic, prefer not to ' think in English ' when it comes to Mtt 5:48 . Hope this explains.

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