Sunday, December 26, 2010

Helm on impassibility

"There is a second reason having to do with language why impassibility is suffering an eclipse. 'Impassibility' is a negative term. Even when properly understood, and then applied to God, it tells us what God is not, or what God cannot do, rather that what he is like and can do. Such a negative approach to thinking about God is nowadays regarded as being too vague and insubstantial for the modern Christian church. For the modern church is impatient with learning what God is not like, she wants to know what God is like, and in particular she desperately seeks reassurance that God is like us—that he is accessible to our imagination, and especially in need of reassurance that he is our emotional peer. This is one reason for the current stress on biblical narrative, on the anthropomorphic and anthropopathic language of Scripture, and on Christology 'from below,' as is evidenced (in different ways) by the prevalent social trinitarianism, and by the appeal of 'open theism.' Put in conventional theological terms, in the modern Christian mind the language of divine immanence swamps the language of divine transcendence. And impassibility is part of the language—part of the 'grammar'—of divine transcendence."

-Paul Helm, "Divine Impassibility: Why Is It Suffering?" (link)
See also, "Aquinas on Divine Impassibility." (link)


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