Recently, I wrote an article on divine impassibility. In the article, I tried to show how only the suffering God can help us during times of crises. It was not an article “proving” the doctrine since divine impassibility is both creedal and confessional, although at some point I would like to write a scriptural-theological argument for the doctrine.
One possible confusion with divine impassibility involves the cross since Christ suffers on the cross. I should note that the same problem exists for divine simplicity, immutability, and so on. The answers to these possible problems generally involve reflecting deeper on the doctrine of God and the Trinity as well as Christology.
Robert Matz and A. Chadwick Thornhill have edited a volume on the doctrine of impassibility. In the book, four authors argue for God’s impassibility or its opposite: God’s passibility. Each of the four authors situates the doctrine of (im)passibility along biblical lines, which has the benefit of clarifying the relationship between doctrine and Scripture. At the same time, the editorial restrictions for this volume prevent it from being a smashing success. [Read more…] about Does God Have Emotions like Us? (Review: Divine Impassibility: Four Views of God’s Emotions and Suffering)
Since the first century, Christians have confessed that God is impassible—not subject to passions like we are. Yet, in the minds of many today, impassibility means that God has no emotions. And if God has no emotions, how can he be said to love or to have mercy? How can he suffer with us in our suffering? How can he understand emotional creatures like us?
These questions follow from a partially incorrect assumption about impassibility. At its heart, impassibility means God has no human body; he is Spirit (John 4:24). As a consequence, God has no bodily impulses, bodily affections, or bodily emotions. Impassibility is another way of saying, “God is not a human being but a supreme spiritual Being.” And the doctrine—rather than nullifying God’s love—ensures that God can lavish upon us stable, eternal, and unselfish love.
To deepen our understanding of impassibility and so God’s never-changing love for us, we need to consider how early Christians spoke about the doctrine, how Scripture does, how the human body works, and how Scripture speaks about God and Christ. [Read more…] about Does God Have Emotions?