This is another slogan that has some traction in the Twelve Step community. On the surface, it appears to encourage people to be open to changing their minds. As information and circumstances change, so ought decisions. Put in a positive light, this quote says, “keep an open mind.” It also echoes the wisdom of living “one day at a time.” It is a reminder that any decision does not have to make sense for infinity, but rather, just until there is good reason to reconsider it. This could be a long time or a short time. I have heard this paradox described by saying that faith is comprised of, the seemingly self-contradictory, “tentative absolutes.” I find it a gift to spend time around young people, for whom the wisdom and application of this phrase appears to be an easy grasp.

Genesis 9:16
When the bow is in the clouds,
I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant
between God and every living creature
of all flesh that is on the earth

The story of Noah includes this promise that God has made a decision to never “flood the entire earth” again. Perhaps the advice that “decisions are not forever” does not apply to God. Or, perhaps some decisions should last forever. Likely, the phrase, “never say never” is the closest we can come to an answer that admits we don't really know.

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Comment by Forrest Curo on 2nd mo. 16, 2017 at 12:59pm

In the Hebrew scriptures, "forever" doesn't seem to mean anything absolute and final, but "as long as you hold up your end of the deal." Hence we find families of priests who are supposed to be established "forever", but lose it when their kids start groping the women who bring in sacrifices, and eating the best gifts themselves. Likewise there was a monarchy under David that was supposed to last "forever", but that, and the Temple they built in Jerusalem, were conditional. When Jesus was turned over to the Romans, the reason was probably he was quoting Jeremiah's denunciation of the first Temple (as a haven for robbers) in reference to how Herod's replacement Temple was being used, as an implied threat that God would have it destroyed as well.

What makes the love of God dependable is not promises or contracts (though some people find these more reassuring) but the loving nature of God.

Comment by Glenn Morison on 2nd mo. 16, 2017 at 1:03pm

Thank you Forrest. Excellent expansion! And your second paragraph says it all!

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