Question of the Day: Passibility and Providence

Today’s question of the day, our recent Friday tradition, is a bit different:

A proposal, not a settled conclusion.  The problem is passibility.  For most Christian theologians, God is by definition impassible, not subject to passions nor passive in relation to His creation.  Recently, of course, many theologians have challenged this, sometimes at the expense of God’s Godness and Lordship.   But you’ve got to admit they have a point.  Yahweh is a fairly passionate God, and Jesus the God-man expresses emotion and suffers.  The tradition has ways of dealing with these things – anthropomorphism, distinguishing the impassible divinity from the passible flesh, and so on.  To many recent theologians, though, this seems like special pleading.

Read the rest here:

Peter J. Leithart » Blog Archive » Passibility and Providence.

So, is God passible?

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5 Replies to “Question of the Day: Passibility and Providence”

  1. Distinguishing “passive” from “passible” and working out all the issues on that post are not something I’m going to try to do at the moment (because I just don’t know about it all), but if I may hazard a partial answer to your question, I’d have to say that at least on first read, the God of the Bible seems to be a consistently emotional and suffering being, who also feels rage, triumph, joy, amusement, rejection, love, etc., while still being active as the omnipotent creature and first cause. Now, because he’s God I wouldn’t say that these things are experienced by him the same way they are experienced by us, but to say he does not experience passions seems to be a bit of a stretch and would require some difficulty in reconciling with both OT and NT portraits of God.

    But that, question you raise is a very important one. I look forward to seeing what people have to say.

    1. Mitchell, I was hoping more would respond.

      I believe in a passible God, because we have evidence of it from the OT and the NT. The idea that God is impassible comes from the Greek idea of a transcendent God who needed a Logos to mediate with man.

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