Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 1:49PM
So many “im” words, so little time.
Used of God, it refers to the teaching that God is “not subject to suffering, pain, or the ebb and flow of involuntary passions.”2
- From the Bible:
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end… (Lamentations 3:21-22 ESV)
- From The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, article I:
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions…”3
- J. I. Packer, in Concise Theology : A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs:
…God’s feelings are not beyond his control, as ours often are. Theologians express this by saying that God is impassable. They mean not that he is impassive and unfeeling but that what he feels, like what he does, is a matter of his own deliberate, voluntary choice and is included in the unity of his infinite being. God is never our victim in the sense that we make him suffer where he had not first chosen to suffer. Scriptures expressing the reality of God’s emotions (joy, sorrow, anger, delight, love, hate, etc.) abound, however, and it is a great mistake to forget that God feels, though in a way of necessity that transcends a finite being’s experience of emotion.
1 This is a disputed doctrine. Many people object to the idea that God is impassible, but many who object to it don’t really understand what it is exactly that the doctrine of impassiblity teaches. See either of the articles linked under Learn more for more discussion of this.
2 I admit it; I stole this definition from Phil Johnson in God Without Mood Swings.
3 We must understand “passions” here to refer to emotions which are drawn out from God involuntarily by something that lies outside of himself.
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