Packer on Impassibility

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Thanks for this entry on divine impassibility, Phil. I haven't see it as yet but will look forward to reading it. Here are a couple of quotes from J. I. Packer on the issue which I found helpful.

This means, not that God is impassive and unfeeling (a frequent misunderstanding), but that no created beings can inflict pain, suffering and distress on him at their own will. In so far as God enters into suffering and grief (which Scripture's many anthropopathisms, plus the fact of the cross, show that he does), it is by his own deliberate decision; he is never his creatures' hapless victim. The Christian mainstream has construed impassibility as meaning not that God is a stranger to joy and delight, but rather that his joy is permanent, clouded by no involuntary pain. [J. I. Packer, "God," in Sinclair Ferguson and David Wright, eds., New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1998), 277].

[Impassibility is] not impassivity, unconcern, and impersonal detachment in face of the creation; not insensitivity and indifference to the distresses of a fallen world; not inability or unwillingness to empathize with human pain and grief; but simply that God's experiences do not come upon him as ours come upon us, for his are foreknown, willed and chosen by himself, and are not involuntary surprises forced on him from outside, apart from his own decision, in the way that ours regularly are. [“Theism for Our Time," in Peter T. O'Brien and David G. Peterson, God Who Is Rich in Mercy (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986), 16].

Posted October 16, 2006 @ 11:32 AM by Derek Thomas
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