Does God Have Emotions?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by DHK, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. DHK

    DHK
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    If God is immutable, how can He have emotions?
    How can a Spirit (John 4:24) have emotions?
    The Bible speaks of God's anger and wrath?
    But even the simplest of dictionaries will tie emotions in with physiological changes of the body, and God is a Spirit, therefore how can God have emotions?
     
  2. Marcia

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    I am not sure God's anger is an emotion. I think it is an expression of his righteous nature to sin or rebellion.
     
  3. DHK

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    God's love? God's care?
    "Casting all your care upon him for he careth for you.
    Is there no emotion with God at all?
     
  4. Marcia

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    Love is defined by God; it's part of his nature. I don't think love is an emotion, anyway.

    God's mercy, care, etc. are very real but I don't think of them as emotions, maybe because to me emotions are by definition a human feeling.

    Maybe love, mercy, compassion, etc. for God are just part of His nature but for us, we experience those things as emotions.
     
  5. DHK

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    In answer to: "Love thy neighbor as thyself,"
    And "Who is my neighbor?"
    Jesus gave the story of "The Good Samaritan."

    In that story the Samaritan binds up the wounds of this Jew who had been robbed, beaten and left for dead. He poured oil into his wounds, bound them up, put him on his own donkey, took him to an inn, paid for the room, asked the inn-keeper to take care of him, and told him that upon his return he would pay whatever else was owing.
    It was a picture of great compassion. With that compassion was tender emotion and love.

    Replace the Samaritan with God. If God has no emotion then would he have performed all those actions in a steely-hearted way, as a robot, an automaton without emotion, purely out of duty showing no caring response whatsoever. If we take emotion out of the picture are we not simply left with some cold-hearted robotic-type of God.
     
  6. Amy.G

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    Hmmm. I always assumed that we have emotions because God does, since we are created in God's image. Would emotions not be part of God's image?

    According to Dictionary.com:

    e·mo·tion –noun
    1. an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.
    2. any of the feelings of joy, sorrow, fear, hate, love, etc.
    3. any strong agitation of the feelings actuated by experiencing love, hate, fear, etc., and usually accompanied by certain physiological changes, as increased heartbeat or respiration, and often overt manifestation, as crying or shaking.
    4. an instance of this.
    5. something that causes such a reaction: the powerful emotion of a great symphony.

    The Bible says God had sorrow when man became evil before the flood. He hates sin.

    I think God has emotions. If not, why do we? Are our emotions a result of the fall, or a result of being made in God's image?

    My experience with emotionless people is that they are cold and uncaring. Not like God at all.
     
  7. DHK

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    Do you have any pets?
    I used to have a dog. He would whimper, bark loudly for various reasons, growl, barr his teeth, howl at the moon, jump up on you being glad to see you, etc.
    I am certain that the dog had emotions. I am also certain that the dog wasn't made in the image of God.
     
  8. Marcia

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    Saying God has no emotions is not saying God doesn't care. I am just not equating his caring, love, etc. to emotions. I don't think love or mercy are emotions, for example.

    Emotions are fleeting responses to external circumstances or to internal conditions. God is not reacting to things like that.

    God's anger, mercy, love, justice, compassion, etc. all exist at the same time all the time. They are not fleeting.

    DHK, are you trying to make a point here? I have a feeling (ha!) that you are not asking the question because you don't have the answer or a view on it.
     
  9. DHK

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    I have been doing some study on it recently because of some questions that were asked of me. I have't formed a firm opinion yet, that is why I am throwing the question out, and at the same time trying to debate both sides of the coin.
     
  10. Marcia

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    Okay, thanks for clearing that up.

    I was taught that God is a simple being - he is not made of parts, like a mental self, emotional self, etc. I think emotions as we understand them are strictly human and that God's love and mercy, etc. are part of his nature, who He is, and do not change. For example, when God is revealing mercy, his wrath on sin is still there; it does not go away. When God showed his judgment when he cast the Egyptians into the sea, it is not that God had no love at that moment. These attributes are not feelings that come and go as it is with us but are always there as part of God's nature.

    I think we view these attributes of God in light of our own emotions, because that is the way we tend to understand them or relate to them.
     
  11. Aaron

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    emotions have nothing to do with immutability.
    How can a spirit think?
    And of His love and affection.
    Emotions aren't acts of our body either. They're acts of the heart, as thoughts are acts of the mind and the will.
     
  12. Amy.G

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    Yes. I have pets. They do have emotions. They can be sad or happy. No, they weren't made in God's image, only humans are, but they were made by the same creator. :)

    I don't see how anyone could say that God does not have emotions. It's just that I think we try to compare them to ours. Our emotions and feelings are marred by sin. God is pure and holy. Therefore, His emotions are not based on circumstances as ours may be. His are based on truth and righteousness. But they are emotions, none the less. At least IMO. :)
     
  13. DHK

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    Your right. The Bible specifically says that God is immutable. But it does not say that God has emotions. His immutability states that He is a God that changes not; whereas emotions change all the time.
    Our God is an intelligent God, even as we believe in Creation by Intelligent Design. Someone had to design this wonderful universe that we live in; but He didn't necessarily have to do it with emotion. There is no sign that the universe (for example) was created with emotion, or that even man was created with emotion.
    What is love? There are three different Greek words in the Bible descriptive of love; only one of which is descriptive of God, and that is agape. It is a self-sacrificing of oneself. And that kind of love need not involve emotion. I love my wife. Because I love her I will take out the garbage for her whether I love doing it or not, whether I feel like it or not. I may not feel like it, but because I love her, I will do many things for her that I may not feel like doing. Feelings sometimes accompany love, but not always.
    Eros, never describes the love of God.
    Emotions are directly tied in with the body.

    God doesn't have beaviorial changes in the body. He is a Spirit.
     
  14. DHK

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    I tend to believe that when the Bible describes God's "emotions" it is describing His attributes in terms that help us to understand God better. Like Marcia, I tend to believe that God doesn't have emotions, though it is the more unpopular stance to take.

    There are two reasons for this.
    One, God is immutable. He never changes. He doesn't have moods: up one day and down the other. It is man that has emotions--prone to be angry one day and happy the next. God is the same: yesterday, today and forever. He doesn't change.
    Secondly, He is eternal. Being eternal, he knew that you were going to be saved before the foundation of the world. Think about that. When you were saved the angels in heaven rejoiced. But God already knew, according to his foreknowledge and omniscience all about this event. There is nothing in this universe that can surprise or shock God. He already knows about it.

    What happens when a wicked man becomes a righteous man? (that is gets saved)?
    Does God change (get happy), or does man change?
    God never changes. He stays the same. Man is the object of his love--always.
    The sun always shines. It never varies. When it shines upon wax, the wax melts. When it shines upon clay, the clay hardens. What changes is not the sun but the object of the sun. What changes is not God but the object of his love--man. Man has changed (repented) and has become an object of his love instead of an object of his wrath (judicial wrath).
    Love and wrath (righteous judgement) are not contrary but walk hand in hand with each other.

    God never changes; we do.
    We tend to describe God in our own human terminology. But God is perfect. Emotions are not.
     
  15. Amy.G

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    You are right, but how can God love if He has no emotions? My point was that our emotions, like you said, are affected by outside influences and our own fallen nature. When we sin, do we not "grieve" the Holy Spirit? How would you describe that emotionally? Our sin must affect God in someway, or He would not be grieved.


    Christ is the image of God. If you have seen Christ, you have seen the Father. Was Christ without emotion? No.
     
  16. TCGreek

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    Only humans were created in the image of God.
    Humans display real emotions.
    God displays emotions.
    We are wondering if God's emotions are real.
    Because we humans who were created in the image of God display real emotions, I think it's safe to safe that the emotions that we read about God displaying in Scripture are also real.
     
  17. Marcia

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    Amy, think of love as an attribute of God, not an emotion. It is still love - in fact, it's perfect love! But is love an emotion? I don't think so. We express love emotionally maybe but love itself is not an emotion. I hope love is not an emotion, because an emotion by definition is not permanent.

    When we grieve the Holy Spirit, He has sorrow over our sin. But this sorrow is another attribute of God, not an emotion. If it were an emotion, it would come and go but God's attributes are always there all the time, part of his immutable nature. When the Holy Spirit has sorrow over our sin, his love, mercy, patience, etc. are also still there at the same time.

    I think Christ did express emotion as a man, because as a man, he had human attributes like emotions (and hunger, thirst, etc).
     
  18. Amy.G

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    I must agree with you, TC.
     
  19. DHK

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    Hebrews 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
    2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

    We have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus Christ that we know God. God sent his son that through His Son God the Father might be revealed to the world.

    In the OT, there was no such personal relationship. God was revealed to the common Israelite through the prophets. He revealed himself to the prophets in various ways: dreams, visions, audibly, and so on.
    But now he reveals Himself to us through His Son, and His Son is revealed to us through the Word.

    How can God be grieved if he has known (whatever grieves him) from before the world was ever created. Words like "grieve" are "anthropopathisms". They are words used to describe human emotions to describe God. Genesis 6:6 also speaks of the "grief of the Lord." But how does a Spirit have grief, and in particular, God. That is not one of his attributes. God knew what was going to happen beforetime. The word is used to describe what God would feel like if he did have emotions to help us understand more of God.
     
  20. Marcia

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    If God displays emotions, he's not immutable.

    So God is angry, then he's sad, then he's joyful, then he's angry? What makes him change? If something external makes him change his emotions, then he's not immutable and furthermore, he has moods.

    There are lots of anthropomorphisms in the Bible describing God; I think we view His wrath, joy, sorrow, through the filter of our emotions because we cannot truly know the immutable nature of God.

    Another thing - emotions change over time but God is not in time or subject to time (unless you are neo-orthodox or an open theist). God can't be one thing one minute and another thing another minute.
     

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