Divine Impassibility

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by dildaysc, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You could call these holy dispositions or affections.

    Check out Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book I, Chapter 89 here: https://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles1.htm

    Aquinas is often adopted by the most rigorous supporters of impassibility. Aquinas states, in chapter 89, that, "THAT IN GOD THERE ARE NOT THE PASSIONS OF THE APPETITES"

    And he affirms this by stating, "passion is excluded in God" and again, "Therefore, there is no passion of the appetite in God." He states this several ways.


    And again he asserts, "it is manifest that joy or delight is properly in God." And then in Chapter 91 Aquinas states, "... in God there is love."
  2. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    So would be better to say that God has perfect emotions, as they never change, and are consistent with his own nature, to be angry at sin, loving and jealous towards His own, etc?
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I think the words "emotions" or "passions" would be frowned upon by many, but the terms "dispositions" or "affections" would be more tolerable. Passions or emotions convey a sense of changeability due to external circumstances otside the Being involved. We do see God responding to His creation in Scripture, but all of this response is also underneath the umbrella of His sovereignty.
  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    So His afflictions would be along the lines as I suggested here?
  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You stated that, "God has wrath towards sin, is that not a Holy Anger?"

    I would agree, but I am not very philosophically sophiscated and Aquinas in chapter 96 of the same Book I of the Summa Contra Gentile asserts that God truly hates nothing. So it sounds like Aquinas would disagree with you (unless we distinguish God's relations to His creatures versus God's Being in and of Himself).

    Aquinas states,

    "However, God is said by similitude to hate some things, and this in a twofold way. In the first way, because God, in loving things and by willing the existence of their good, wills the non-existence of the contrary evil. Hence, He is said to have a hatred of evils, for we are said to hate what we will not to exist. In the words of Zechariah (8:17): “And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his friend and love not a false oath. For all these are the things that I hate, says the Lord.” These, however, are not effects in the manner of subsisting things, to which properly love and hate refer.

    [8] The second way arises from the fact that God wills some greater good that cannot be without the loss of some lesser good. And thus He is said to hate, although this is rather to love. For thus, inasmuch as He wills the good of justice or of the order of the universe, which cannot exist without the punishment or corruption of some things, God is said to hate the things whose punishment or corruption He wills. In the words of Malachi (1:3): “I have hated Esau”; and the Psalms (5:7): “You hate all workers of iniquity: You destroy all who speak a lie. The bloody and the deceitful man the Lord will abhor.”"

    But I am not too sure and remain uncertain about many of these points. I hate to go around following God stating, "It says God was this way...but He didn't really mean it," or "God was just speaking by similtudes." I am not a wooden literalist (God doesn't have wings, etc), but I am unsatisfied by Aquinas in these matters.
  6. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    I would tend to see that God has emotions or whatever you prefer to term them, but they will be always perfecting in accord with His divine nature.
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I would agree.
  8. JP Wallace

    JP Wallace Puritan Board Sophomore

    There is a lot on confusion on the subject. ..... The core issues that require clarification and clarity are often:

    1) That impassibility is not the same as impassivity

    Michael Horton writes,

    “First, it is important to define what we mean by impassibility. The Greek word apatheia, because it is used in Stoicism and Christian theology, may easily be misunderstood as referring to the same idea as impassibility. However, the apathy of indifference at which the Stoic philosopher aimed – immunity to the harm or delight that makes one’s happiness dependent on others – is far from the Christian conception. This difference in meaning is further obscured by the fact that the Latin cognate, passus, is typically understood in the English word passion to refer to emotions generally.[1]

    [1] Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: a systematic theology for pilgrims along the way, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan), 242-243

    2) That God always is what he is, and does not "react" to circumstances in creation - nor would he ever need to since he knows all things from before the foundation of the world.

    3) Thought needs to be given to the concept of what an emotion is, or how it is defined - in relation to its common definition I believe we ought not to ascribe emotions to God.

    4)Clearly God "loves" etc. indeed he "is" love - since he is immutable and wholly other from us this love is different from our love, and should be thought about in connection with God's being and will which are as immutable as he is.

    5) The use of analogy and anthropopathism should be kept in mind when analyzing individual texts.

    Richard Muller writes,

    “What is more, in the usages found in Christian tradition, immutability (or, indeed, impassibility, when the term is actually used) in no way implies an absence of relatedness, love, long-suffering, compassion, mercy, and so forth. Impassibility, when attributed to God in the Christian tradition, and specifically, in medieval and Protestant scholastic thought, indicates not a Stoic notion of apatheia, but an absence of mutation, distress, or any other sort of negative passiones.”
  9. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Which would be saying that when God is jealous for His people, it never means that God gets jealous in a human petty/envious fashion, but always in a perfected manner?
  10. JP Wallace

    JP Wallace Puritan Board Sophomore

    I hope you don't think I'm being pernickity, or over-precise ( though I suppose I am really!) but apart from considering how we would define "jealousy" in relation to God, a key consideration is that we exclude from out thinking any idea of God "getting" or "becoming" anything. You used the phrased "it never means that God gets jealous in a human petty/envious fashion..." - my point is that I would of necessity have to disagree with that since the phrase or synonymous phrases must not be used of God. To use such language is de facto to predicate change in God, and probably reaction as well.

    Secondly, I'd say the the difference between any attribution of such things as jealousy, hate, love and so forth to God, and the attirbtuion of the same things to us is not to be located only, or exclusively, or even at all in some instances, in connection with the "moral quality" of the said jealousy, hate or love. What I mean is that the difference is not just in the fact that God is perfect, and morally pure, whereas we are polluted with sin - often the difference is of a completely different order. God is Creator, and we are creatures and that distinction is to be recognised at all times. As noted above in relation to jealousy and most other affections we must keep in mind the possibility and probabilty of God's use of anthropopathic language or analogical language to reveal himself.
  11. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Freshman

    You may have been targeting Star Wars, but I prefer to assume this one.

  12. Joshua

    Joshua pilgrim

    I was using the phonetic spelling, perhaps, of a Bostonian?
  13. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    God always acts the same in any situation based upon His own nature, so His hatred and anger would always be proper and righteous!

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