Divine Impassibility

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by dildaysc, Jan 26, 2019.

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  1. dildaysc

    dildaysc Puritan Board Freshman

    The Westminster Confession of Faith describes God as "without body, parts, or passions, immutable".

    The doctrine of Divine Impassibility is frequently neglected and/or denied, and little understood.

    De Moor here defends the historic orthodox doctrine. Do you find his reasoning convincing?
     
  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Rather than being a neglected topic, Reformed Baptists have fixated on this subject very much over the past 5 years. This has been both for the good and the bad. I can elaborate if needed.
     
  3. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

  4. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I am sure that De Moor you read him, De Moor convincing he will be. ;)
     
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  5. dildaysc

    dildaysc Puritan Board Freshman

    I would be interested to hear.
     
  6. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    ARBCA is the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America. Several years ago they began to reprint the old works on impassibility and write new works. Some of the books were profitable and some were very dry. It was good to revive this old doctrine. However, some over-stated their case or accused those who did not follow their exact view of being Open Theists. A paper was then written and it was made a test of subscription to stay within the Association, which I believe was a bad move (putting additional papers as addenda to also be subscribed to in addition to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, i.e, creating Confession-level papers).

    The paper was fairly well-written but held to some assumptions not sufficiently proven from Scripture. For example, Affirmation #3 states that, "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." But then they inadequately prove this point. As a friend explained, "The analogy of scripture simply says that the clear passages should take priority over the difficult and ambiguous passages. The position paper takes a step further and says which passages are clear, and which ones are difficult and ambiguous. The ones that describe God’s being and essence, which are called “ontological,” are the clear ones." I think this further step by ARBCA is unwarranted.

    While doing all of this there was also substantial interpersonal conflict behind the scenes and other grave sins ignored, to include child abuse. The association would have been better served by focusing on how to better keep children safe and in prioritizing missions. In the last 2 years they have shrunk by about 30-40% and continue to bleed member churches.

    So the good that resulted was that: (1) there was a revival of a long-held doctrine largely forgotten in our day.

    The bad of it was that: (1) small nuances within this doctrine sometimes became the litmus test of who was "in" and who was "out" of the association, (2) other vital doctrines that were more pressing were ignored.
     
  8. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Same here. On a similar note there is a tendency among some Reformed Baptists (and paedo, as well) to define orthodoxy as what Thomas taught, end of discussion. So if I disagree with Thomas on exegesis, I am laughed at (happened on the Reformed Thomism forum on facebook) or called heterodox.
     
  9. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, I didn't even bring up the spectre of Thomism haunting the RBs of today...but it is definitely there.
     
  10. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    And they get mad if you ever criticize anything Greek. I say leave the Greeks in the gay bath houses.
     
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Diogenes was pretty cool as a philosopher though. Behold a man!
     
  12. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm not sure what the one has to do with the other. Surely a church can exercise a rudimentary level of church discipline (which, I realize, looks different in a Baptist association) and fund missions while preparing a doctrinal report or debating a theological matter?

    Regardless, thanks Rev. Dilday. Poole is excellent here.
     
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    They can.

    But they didn't.

    Our priorities tell a lot about us.
     
  14. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    God has emotions though, for He became angry with Israel over her sinning, and has love towards His own Covenant people?
     
  15. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    To think God can "become" anything other than what He is makes me angry. ;)
     
  16. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    He is love though. correct?
     
  17. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Oh, man ... that's even worse than my material.
     
  18. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    David,
    What did you think of what De Moor had to say?
     
  19. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    At least it is better than @Joshua's. ;)
     
  20. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    One problem on both sides in this discussion is that words like "unchangeable" and "emotion" don't have univocal meanings. Both sides use sloppy language. I don't believe God has flighty emotions like a pop singer, but nor do I believe God is a flat realm of essence, thought thinking thought.

    Take In Numbers 23:19, God does not repent”

    This is more covenantal than Aristotelian. entire context concerns Balaam’s attempt to curse Israel contrary to God’s covenantal love and election of them. There is nothing here about God’s being.

    In Malachi 3:6, God says, “For I am the LORD, I do not change”

    Again, this is clearly covenantal. God appeals to the “Sons of Jacob” who “from the days of our fathers have gone away from my ordinances.”
     
  21. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So what kind of emotions to you think God has? The definition of word emotion always entails the thought of change, and has been mentioned in the past we ought to think of God can be angry "as if" this is true.
     
  22. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I didn't say God has emotions.
     
  23. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    That they can suggests you cannot blame prioritizing one for not prioritizing the other. It's not a zero-sum game. Blame the church (or association, in Baptist parlance?), not the doctrine.
     
  24. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    The way you stated such seems to say there is some type of emotion in God...."I don't believe God has flighty emotions like a pop singer, but nor do I believe God is a flat realm of essence, thought thinking thought." So can you tell me if you can say if God has emotions or not, without equivocation? :)
     
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't believe God has emotions. I let the covenantal nature of Scripture govern how I view verses like "God's repenting," "anger," etc. I leave Aristotle in the gay bath houses.
     
  26. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Nobody has unlimited time and resources. What the churches choose to preach and have conferences on and write about demonstrates their priorities and takes away from other issues. I don't blame the doctrine, but I definitely do blame the churches.
     
  27. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    This probably isn't profitable for us to go much further, but you admitted that they could have done both. I agree that churches have limited resources and I don't have a dog in the fight as far as the ARBCA goes (I even had to double check to see if I got the acronym right!), and yet I am quite certain that working through the doctrine of divine impassibility is not what prevented them from addressing child abuse.
     
  28. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, we do not have to take this further...but I do think there is a valid connection. We sometimes define holiness as doctrinal strictness instead of doing right by other people. Doctrinal precision becomes an idol, even while we ignore other needs or become imbalanced in our priorities.
     
  29. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    Impassible!
     
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  30. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    God has wrath towards sin, is that not a Holy Anger?
     
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