‘Divine Immutability and Impassibility'

Okay, we didn’t want to derail a thread in another section of the forum so this thread is going to discuss this concept and the concept of whether God has emotions.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=753482&page=15 (continued from this thread)

Title is taken from this blog: payingattentiontothesky.com/tag/divine-immutability-and-impassibility/

To newcomers, both of the threads per the question as to whether God has emotions? Etc. can be discussed here.

www2.franciscan.edu/plee/doesgodhaveemotions.htm
On the other hand, if one means (when one asks whether God has emotions), can one truly and literally, not just in an improper or metaphorical sense, say that God is pleased with us or is angry with us? the answer is, Yes, in the relational sense explained above. That is, it is true to say that we are related to God as one who pleases is related to the one who is pleased, and that God has what is necessary to be related to in this way. We are related to God as one who elicits anger is related to the one who is angry, and God is in his own being what is necessary to be the term of this relation. Each of these predications indirectly tells us something about God. When we learn through Scripture, through the teaching and liturgy of the Church, and through our own meditation and prayer, how God is calling us to relate to him, then we learn ever more about the transcendent being to whom it is possible and appropriate to relate to in this way.

  • Dr. Patrick Lee, Franciscan University, Steubenville.

Aquinas believes that it is not in the nature (the properties) of God to sympathize with the experience of pain and suffering in the same way that we do. By this I mean that God’s impassible nature is such that there is no existence of passions (desires) that a human would have.** I still contend (and I’d like you to provide proof against this view from the Summa Theologica or Summa Contra Gentiles if you disagree) that Aquinas believed God has emotions (not passions) such as joy and love.
**
In the discussion of the Trinity I explained that the persons of God (Father, Son, and Spirit) experience love and joy on an infinite level. Catholics believe that humans can experience love and joy also (as derived from the creator) but without the infinite bliss of God. In this sense, I argued, that our experience of love and joy are analogous to God’s love and joy. Perhaps I do not understand your objection, but I still do not understand why our joy and his joy are incompatable to the point where God does not “sympathize” with our joy. I maintain that our experience of joy (such as the joy of faith or the joy of marital love) may not be equal to the bliss of God, but it is still recognizable to him. If we read a beautiful poem about the joy of romantic love to God, I think he would identify and sympathize with the “feelings” of joy and bliss as well as the joy of relationship between two people who love each other.

saintaquinas.com/sorrow.html

Thank you for doing this Broom :wink:

Your good self or another can start with their take and I will come back and participate later. I have a few things to attend to at the minute.

I think that to truly answer this question, we need to define “emotions” in a definite way. We know that God does not change, so if we take “emotions” in the sense that it is usually applied to humans, then we cannot say that God has them. Emotions to humans cause them to change in very striking ways over short periods of time, but God does not change.

Naturally, God does not have human emotions except when God became Man in Jesus. But God did create us in His own image as well. I think the concept of the Trinity is important as is Love, if Love is not an emotion, what is? If God is not love, then how do you define God.

In the discussion of the Trinity I explained that the persons of God (Father, Son, and Spirit) experience love and joy on an infinite level. Catholics believe that humans can experience love and joy also (as derived from the creator) but without the infinite bliss of God. In this sense, I argued, that our experience of love and joy are analogous to God’s love and joy.

saintaquinas.com/sorrow.html

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.- 1 Cor. 13:13

Actually, I don’t think that all love is an emotion. Sacrificial love is a decision, a choice, a virtue, but not necessarily an emotion.

Often, a person has to decide to love someone or something else, even when it is hard. There is no touch-feely feeling making it easier, but they do it anyway by their will. It think that God has many of the attributes that are good, such as love, but that doesn’t mean he is an emotional being.

Okay, you can call love a decision, a choice, a virtue, so be it but if God does not change, according to some, he would likewise not be making decisions or choices in the most simplistic terms.

Ah, here we are entering another interesting discussion.

In the bible, when it says something to the effect of “God repented of having …” or “God forgave so-and-so” this is actually not a literal interpretation of what happened. God did not CHANGE his mind. He had His plan from the beginning, and all that occurs is a part of it. When he “repents” it is just a human representation of our concept of what occurred, because we really can’t possibly comprehend an unchanging being.

God has never, is not, and never will change anything about Himself. His “decisions” and “emotions” are all just a part of His plan, and the only reason we call them “decisions” and “emotions” is because our limited language is not capable of conveying what He really is doing completely.

The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.- Genesis 6:6

So the old Testament was followed for thousands of years before Christ but now we decide it is a metaphor. There might be something to that but I don’t know if that is all to it.

Actually, theologians throughout the ages have understood that the bible is not saying God has emotions; but since it is not an important thing to understand to keep the faith, not many people speak of it.

I am not saying that the Bible is false; all I am saying is that the language in it which attributes emotion to God is not literal.

The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.- Genesis 6:6

Okay, no one denies God does not change, no one denies God is omnipotent, omniscient, etc. To be grieved is still an emotion.

Tell me this: Even if it were true that God could be “grieved,” how in the world would the human writer be able to know it?

The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.- Genesis 6:6

No one denies God does not change but no matter how you frame it, “was grieved” still reflects emotions.

See post #7.

Because the Bible is the inspired word of God.

OK… we’re clearly in the Summa Theologiae here (I.20.2 ad 1, to be exact). Aquinas writes:

[A]cts of the sensitive appetite, inasmuch as they have annexed to them some bodily change, are called passions; whereas acts of the will are not so called. Love, therefore, and joy and delight are passions; in so far as they denote acts of the intellective appetite, they are not passions. It is in this latter sense that they are in God.

So… as humans, we experience emotion through passions, via our sensitive appetite. In God, though, there are acts of the intellective appetite, which are not passions. God does not ‘act’, per se, although He ‘causes’: therefore, God wills ‘joy’, ‘love’, and ‘delight’, but not as emotion, per se (rather, it seems, as acts of His will (cf I.19.4 ad 2)).

In a way, it seems that you two are both right, yet both wrong. :wink:

That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say, but somewhat lacked the words to put it into.

Because God told him.

An immutable God can have an emotional state, provided that emotional state never changes. One possibility is that God is in a state of constant bliss, which we will have in heaven. Another possibility is that every sin we commit adds to some eternal pain in God. That would explain why God is grieved by certain human actions, while retaining immutability, but I find it hard to believe that God is in a constantly pained state.

Yes, that’s what I have been trying to convey. It kind of depends on what kinds of spectacles one is wearing.

God is an unchanging God, so here, when we hear God wills something or acts on his will, this seems to denote some sort of action, decision making as well per another post. So the same conundrum is basically brought up again.

Aristides of Athens (fl. c. 140)

. . . God, who is** incorruptible and unchangeable and invisible, but who sees all things and changes them and alters them as He wills**.

St. Aristides by the way.

God does not experience sorrow or pain according to the Fathers and scholastics. He cannot “suffer”, that is part of what the doctrine of impassibility entails:

Saint Thomas Aquinas: Summa Contra Gentiles I.LXXXIX.12

“…Sorrow or pain, for its subject is the already present evil, just as the object of joy is the good present and possessed. Sorrow and pain, therefore, of their very nature cannot be found in God…God cannot repent (change His mind) or be angry or sorrowful…”

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