Home > Theology Proper > So You Want to Understand Impassibility

So You Want to Understand Impassibility

ImpassibilityMany of my readers will be aware that during the last few years a theological controversy has arisen over the doctrine of divine impassibility. Impassibility is the teaching that God, being perfect and immutable, cannot be moved. The idea is expressed within many of the Reformed confessions by the assertion that God is “without passions.” The idea is that God, who in his essence is perfectly blessed, can never suffer any loss. Therefore the experience of suffering is contrary to the divine nature; God cannot suffer. It is imprecise to say that God has no emotions; what in us may be called an emotion (such as love) is a virtue in God. However, whereas in us emotion involves fluctuation and change in our disposition, God is changeless. His love is like his power, his wisdom, and indeed his very being; it is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.

In the Spring of 2014 the question of impassibility became the focus of an open debate within the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America when that association’s Theology Committee reported that one of the member churches evidently did not hold to the 1689 Confession’s teaching on impassibility. This was the result of an ongoing process in which the committee had been assigned to investigate the writings of one officer of that church. They had earlier found his writing contrary to the confession at two points (although he and his church had by 2014 come to a mutual agreement with the committee on the proper confessional expression of the other point). Rejection of the confession is grounds for exclusion of a church from ARBCA, and the association found itself at an impasse while some – but not all – argued that associational documents required that this action be taken.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

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