The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is God impassible?

Divine impassibility is the doctrine that God does not suffer. An argument for impassibility could go like this:

If a being suffered, then that being would not be perfect.
God is perfect.
Therefore, God does not suffer.

What’s your view on impassibility?

Do you believe that God does not suffer?

I lean against impassiblity.

So WHO made this rule, and do they explain it more than just making this assertion?

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Hmmm :thinking:

The Doctrine of Divine Simplicity (DDS), of which impassability is a subset, has been around since at least medieval times as a theme in philosophy and theology. It is a VERY difficult ‘doctrine’ presented with some precision by St. Thomas Aquinas,among others. If you feel like taking a shot at it, try Bill Vallicella’s article at the SEP.

My opinion? I don’t know. I don’t think it is knowable.
A recent book by David Bentley Hart - 'The Experience of God" is more approachable and is basically an argument to take DDS seriously, as the only real intellectual bulwark against all agnosticism and atheism. His argument works pretty well.

Is this the same thing qaz is talking about?

Isn’t being sorry, a form of suffering?

Ge 6:7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

Of course, those who disbelieve that God can be sorry about anything He has done, will affirm that this is a mere anthropomorphism.

It’s not a “rule”, but I think Plato was the first one to make that argument.

Hmmm, I would say that God probably is not sorry, in the context of what He created, but could be sorry (as in how the creation used the gifts He has given…) in the crap that came from the creation…

Yeah, except DDS includes passivity.

Yeah I saw that on my google search, but what I couldn’t find in what I read, though it may be there somewhere, was your emphasis that…

If a being suffered, then that being would not be perfect.

And that was the rule I was referring to. Any clarity on this??

I think that’s most likely true. Others of course who disbelieve that God could remove anything He has created, i.e., people via the flood, may affirm that this is a mere anthropomorphism.

The thing about DDS is, that God is not one of us. By that I mean, He is not a being among other beings.
He is not the highest ‘being’, at the top of the chain of being; not the smartest being, or the biggest, or strongest being. Not a being at all. This is important because to be a being is to be dependent on some other thing as to one’s existence, as to whether one is necessary or not.
So God is BEING itself, the power of being, He is not dependent on anything or anyone. He does not even exist. He is existence. All being, all existence, flows from him and is utterly dependent on Him to maintain its existence and being.
Tillich calls this God the “God beyond the God of theology”. This God is the ground of everything else, the source of everything else, but is not Himself a thing.
Nor is He made up of parts. Dang, that’s a hard one to explain. His simplicity resides in the fact that all his perfections are One, unlike his creatures who are a mixture of properties of different sorts that often battle one another, as our personalities are unbalanced, generally.
So…the next step is that He does not change. At all. He is eternally exactly who He is, the fount of all perfections, all beings, all graces and all agape. He apparently - and I’m not sure about this - does not have successive thoughts or moods, because that would entail change.
Heading for the deep end of the pool here - it’s impossible to explain this in a paragraph or a book.
Parts of the DDS I buy into and understand; there are however impossible contradictions that flow from this as well.

So Dave are you agreeing that qaz’ statement… “If a being suffered, then that being would not be perfect” is essentially the argument of impassibility?

Beats me. You’d have to define what ‘perfect’ even means, and once you do that it doesn’t leave any open questions, like: If ‘perfect’ means not being able to suffer, then of course if God suffers he can’t be perfect. Kind of a vicious circle.

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