The impassibility of God.
It’s a classical doctrine that basically says that God the Father is unaffected by passion* (in the old-fashioned way, i.e., suffering), because passion indicates a lack of something — the church fathers called this a privation. That’s just dandy, since Scripture gives us no indication that God needs or lacks anything.
But is God emotionless? People who hold firmly to this doctrine say that when Scripture talks about God as having extremes of emotion — regret, sorrow, vengefulness, etc. — it does so metaphorically. But we can’t really get around God’s wrath at sinners, can we? Or His hatred of evil? So why would we want to get around His sorrow?
I may write more about this as I read farther (or is it further, Dave?) in the book I’m slowly working through — too slowly, alas, since I have to finish it and 4 or 5 other books by the end of the semester. Argh.
Any thoughts or brilliant insights?
*obviously, when Christ was on earth, He suffered. Duh. But we’re talking about the Father, here. Which makes me think of another question: if the Holy Spirit “intercedes for us with groans,” does that mean that He suffers or feels sorrow with us? Scripture also speaks of the Holy Spirit as being “grieved” by our sins. Huh. More thought required on this topic, evidently.