Saturday, August 29, 2009

In Store Now - Divine Impassibility and the Mystery of Human Suffering

The topic of divine impassibility has interested me for some time. Some of you may not know what divine impassibility is. As with most doctrines there is a spectrum of beliefs about impassibility. On the more extreme end it says that God cannot be acted upon or experience any emotions. In its milder form it says God cannot suffer. Theologian A. M. Fairbairn once wrote, "Theology has no falser idea than that of the impassibility of God." More recently the German theologian J. Moltmann has all but written its eulogy. He says, "The doctrine of the essential impassibility of the divine nature now seems finally to be disappearing from the Christian doctrine of God." Perhaps Moltmann has spoken a little too soon. While certainly a minority view it is has some strong proponents who, while recognizing some weaknesses in some of its classical formulations, have understood what impassibility is seeking to protect and why it is still necessary.

I look forward to reading Divine Impassibility and the Mystery of Human Suffering because I think there is some wisdom in a properly formulated doctrine of impassibility. My thoughts have been mostly shaped by Thomas G. Weinandy. I read his book Does God Suffer? a couple of years ago and was very impressed with his reasoning. This new book from Eerdmans, edited by James F. Keating and Thomas Joseph White, brings together a spectrum of opinions from Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox traditions. For those seeking to understand this doctrine and see arguments both for and against this will be a must-read volume.

It is a paperback with 357 pages and sells for $45.00.

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