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Statement on Divine Impassibility

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Iconoclast, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    Divine Impassibility: Section 5
    < 4. Confessional Theology | Table of Contents

    5. Affirmations and Denials
    The discussion above enables us to make the following affirmations and denials concerning the confessional DDI.


    1. We affirm the unity and analogy of Scripture, which states that unclear, difficult, or ambiguous passages are to be interpreted with clear and unambiguous passages that touch upon the same teaching or event (2LCF 1.9). We deny that the purported meaning of any text may be pressed in isolation or contradiction to other passages of Scripture.

    2. We affirm the unity of Scripture and the analogy of faith, which states, “the true and full sense of any Scripture” (2LCF 1.9) must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the system of doctrine “necessarily contained” (2LCF 1.6) in the whole of Scripture. We deny that the purported meaning of any text may be pressed in isolation or contradiction to systematic theological considerations and that which is necessarily contained in the whole of Scripture.

    3. We affirm that passages which speak of God’s being and essence must be given interpretive priority, not only because they are the less difficult and ambiguous, but also because what God is precedes what he is like toward us. The latter must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the former. We denythat passages which posit divine passions (i.e., what he is like toward us) take priority over passages which speak of God’s being and essence (i.e., what he is).

    4. We affirm that the foundation for language about God is the reality of creation ex nihilo. This principle grounds the way of causality, which states that we may know something about the cause (i.e., God) from the effect (i.e., creation). We deny that scriptural language about God is equivocal, that is, for example, that love is predicated of God and man in a completely unrelated sense.

    5. We affirm, in all scriptural language about God, both the way of negation, which states that he is that being who is infinitely unlike all other beings, and the way of eminence, which states that he is infinitely greater than the language and analogies used to reveal him, so that divine love is as different from human love as God is from man. We deny that scriptural language about God is univocal, that is, for example, that love stands in relation to God in the same way it does to man, albeit more perfect.

    6. We affirm that all scriptural language about God is analogical, which states that divine love stands in relation to the divine nature in a mode proportionately similar (and proportionately different) to the way human love stands in relation to human nature. We deny that scriptural language about God must be either univocal or equivocal.

    7. We affirm that some scriptural analogies with respect to the affections of God are anthropopathisms, wherein the thing attributed to God exists in him figuratively. We deny that every scriptural analogy with respect to the affections of God refers to something proper to God, wherein the thing attributed exists in both the Creator and the creature formally.

    8. We affirm that biblical anthropopathisms signify that which is in God truly but figuratively. Anthropopathisms signify something that is in God, not according to the letter, but according to the design of the analogy, and in a manner consistent with the whole of Scripture and suitable to the divine perfections. We denythat anthropopathisms empty the scriptural analogies of meaning or fail to reveal something about the God who is.

    9. We affirm that God is pure being without becoming. We deny that there is any becoming in God.

    10. We affirm that, given what God actually is, infinite, simple, and immutable in perfection, we must also confess that God is infinite, simple, and immutable love. We deny that God has the potential to be other than infinite, simple, and immutable love.

    11. We affirm that God is his essence and existence, and therefore cannot but exist as he eternally and essentially is. We deny emotional change in God, for that would involve a new manner of God’s existing, which would compromise God’s aseity (i.e., his necessary and independent existence).

    12. We affirm that love (and all other affections proper to God) is not an accidental or relational property that God has, but what he is. Therefore, an emotional change in God of any kind would necessarily entail a change in the essence and existence of God. We deny that God has any accidental or relational properties, that is, properties that are distinct from his essence.

    13. We affirm that only an impassible God is truly and fully “most loving” (2LCF 2.1). We deny that the confessional understanding of divine impassibility leads to a view of God that is cold and impersonal.

    14. We affirm that God is impassible without qualification. We deny that God can, in any sense, undergo inner emotional changes of state, and that God is without passions merely in the sense that he is incapable of suffering, surprise, or being overwhelmed.

    15. We affirm that God, who is his essence and existence, has no cause; his existence is necessary and therefore unchangeable. We deny that God can be his own cause, and that he is capable of sovereignly affecting his own emotional change of state.

    16. We affirm that passages which speak of the arousal or pacification of God’s affections imply a change only in God’s external (ad extra) works. We denythat passages which speak of the arousal or pacification of God’s affections imply an internal (ad intra) change in God.

    17. We affirm that all of God’s affections are infinite in perfection. Therefore, if God were to undergo an emotional change, that change would be either for the better or the worse. If for the better, then he must not have been infinite in perfection prior to the change, and therefore was not God. If for the worse, then he would no longer be infinite in perfection after the change, and therefore no longer God. We deny that it is an imperfection in God to be incapable of emotional change.

    18. We affirm that God loves his creation, particularly his elect (John 17:23-24), with a view to himself (Rom. 11:36). His affection is therefore as immutable, fixed, and constant as his love for himself, however varied our experience of its effects may be. We deny that the triune God’s infinite delight in his own infinite perfection (i.e., his blessedness) undermines his ability genuinely to love his creation.

    19. We affirm a real distinction among creatures, and the degree to which each is made to experience God’s love and participate in his goodness. We denythat the inequality among the external objects of God’s love (i.e., creation, humanity, the elect) implies a change or variation in God whose love is as immutable as his being.

    20. We affirm that the confessional DDI supports and necessitates the free offer of the gospel and Christian missions (2LCF 7.2). We deny that the confessional DDI in any way hinders the free offer of the gospel or Christian missions.

    21. We affirm that God has freely chosen to relate every creature to himself, that a creature may change in his relation to God, and that by virtue of Christ God graciously effects such a change in the elect without any change of relation in himself. We deny that a change in the creature can bring about any change of relation in God.

    22. We affirm, in agreement with Chalcedonian Christology and the communication of properties, that “Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture, attributed to the person denominated by the other nature” (2LCF 8.7). We deny that the divine nature underwent suffering or change in the passion of Christ.

    23. We affirm that the classical DDI as expressed by the 2LCF 2.1 is founded in the Scripture, “necessarily contained” (2LCF 1.6) therein, and therefore consistent with and essential to the system of doctrine delivered to us through special revelation. We deny that the classical DDI as expressed by the 2LCF 2.1 is a scholastic dogma founded in philosophical and metaphysical speculation based on natural theology.

    24. We affirm emphatically, therefore, that the classical DDI as expressed by the 2LCF 2.1 is the teaching of Scripture. This is our Association’s confessional commitment.

    Respectfully submitted,

    ARBCA Theology Committee
     
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  2. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Thanks for posting this, Iconoclast. :)
    I've been studying this recently and have just finished reading All that is in God by James Dolezal. Highly recommended!
    I think the key article in the ARBCA document is No.17:

    17. We affirm that all of God’s affections are infinite in perfection. Therefore, if God were to undergo an emotional change, that change would be either for the better or the worse. If for the better, then he must not have been infinite in perfection prior to the change, and therefore was not God. If for the worse, then he would no longer be infinite in perfection after the change, and therefore no longer God. We deny that it is an imperfection in God to be incapable of emotional change.

    The logic here is irresistible. 'I am the LORD; I change not.' It may sound a strange thing to say, but God is a simple Being. He is not composed of parts. Therefore Christ is not 50% Man and 50% God; He is 100% Human and 100% Divine (Colossians 1:19; 2:9).
     
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  3. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    I have a problem with the thinking that God is without passion.

    I realize that the word "passion" is used in the sense that God doesn't decide from an emotional standpoint.

    But, I do think that too often the presentation by reformed is a passionless austere God who displays no emotions.

    That is not at all the presentation of God in the Scriptures.

    His decisions are not devoid of passion.

    His work is not passion challenged.

    What is NOT allowable is that God would make decisions based upon emotions such as surprise, anger, hurt, ...

    The thinking that in some manner emotions would pervert God's judgment is applying a human attribute upon God. So, the reformers have to construct a god that is impassible and yet word a statement in which God's affections are infinite and perfect.


    There is great good in the statement, but typical of rigid reformers (puritan style) the statement is lacking in some areas .
     
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  4. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    I would encourage you to think upon the Statement that Iconoclast posted very carefully. It does not say that God has no emotions; rather it says that whatever emotions He has He has had from eternity. His love is an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3); there was never a time when He did not hate sin in all its forms, but there was also never a time when He did not plan to save sinners through the Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 1:2 etc.).

    If God changes, it must be from worse to better or from better to worse, either of which is impossible. Therefore God does not change in any way (Psalm 90:2; Malachi 3:6). Therefore those verses that appear to show change in Him must be anthropopathisms or anthropomorphisms (compare 1 Samuel 15:11 with 1 Samuel 15:29).
     
  5. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    I disagree with their statement on "anthropopathism". The Lord Jesus Christ is God. "He is touched by the feelings of our infirmities." Christ is 100% God and 100% human. God knows suffering, for He suffered.

    It is impossible, therefore, for God to actually be anthropopthism challenged.

    Such thinking does not pretend that God is changeable, or manipulated. Rather, that God is, in fact, all knowing.

    Also, I would think this statement seeks to place a distinction between passion and emotion such that it would confuse, I do not disagreed with that part of the statement concerning the "passionless" God, that does not conform or change as a result of some emotional upset, or constipation.

    And, I agree that God does not make decisions based upon his emotions (as do humans), nor does He get surprised or disappointed.

    However, the presentation that God is "passionless" as without emotions is not true. Passions are different then emotions only in a matter of degree and direction. Typically emotion may be considered to be reaction and passion proactive.

    From a human perspective, a passionate art lover can be emotional about certain aspects that appeal to them, but the emotion is not the passion.

    As this relates to God, passion can be seen in that of righteousness and judgment. God is passionate about both. He cannot change that passion toward righteousness and judgment.

    However, God also has desire. Desire is not a passion, but an emotion. "God desires all men to be saved."

    Therefore, God's passion for righteousness and judgment brought about His plan for the ages called redemption. He may then as He desires choose according to his purpose those that He will redeem.

    These are why I consider that statement offered typical of the reformed thinking that was at times reactionary, politically motivated, abounded in superstition, and presented an outward conformity while leaving the inward unsatisfied and needy.

    But then, I probably have run amuck as a cat on a hot tin roof (thinking of JofJ thread on figures of speech and using a mixed metaphor), and am totally wrong in my assessment, and not presenting an accuracy that is warranted such a document.

    I could never long tolerate writing or folks that had to use $10 words when God used manna, bread and fish.
     
    #5 agedman, Feb 6, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  6. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    There are also arguments that divine immutability necessitates relational passibility. If God is immutable, if He does not change but is eternal (ontological, His being), and if God can and does genuinely relate to others (mankind) then He must be capable of some type of change (not in being but regarding this relationship).

    In other words, if God is just then He reacts (He changes disposition, has a response, changes in emotion) towards unrighteousness in those towards whom He relates. Emotional changes are, in this way, manifestations of ontological immutability. They are descriptive of a God that does not change.
     
  7. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    In acts 14:11-17.....the people thought Paul and Barnabas were Gods.. to deny this....they described themselves as.....men of like passions....
     
  8. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    Yes....He was perfections...He is....
     
  9. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    Agreed,

    And so too is even fallen humankind made in the likeness and image of God. (Genesis 1).

    God has passion humankind has passion.
     
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  10. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    The emotions of God are all based upon His nature and attributes, so when God gets angry, jealous, those would be duet to Him being Holy and righteousness, so not tainted in any fashion as our human emotional responses are.
     
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