Friday, April 23, 2010

Kevin has won me over

We're not talking Kevin 07. Kevin DeYoung, I mean. His article, Tis Mystery All, the Immortal Dies: Why the Gospel of Christ’s Suffering is More Glorious Because God Does Not Suffer, has convinced me that [mutter, mutter ... wash my mouth out with soap] impassibility is biblical. But I wish there were another word.

There really isn't an appropriate synonym and the word is so easily misunderstood.

DeYoung says it means that God
cannot suffer and is incapable of being acted upon by an external force.

This teaching is based on the Bible's assertion that God is unchangeable and sovereign.

DeYoung carefully articulates it so that it doesn't make God out to be passive, uncaring or unresponsive to our needs.

Although the idea that God suffers is popular today, he points out that if God is changeable, this means that he is not dependable and can't be trusted.

It is well worth reading the whole article, typos and all, to appreciate the point and value of this teaching. Phil Johnson's article God without mood swings is also worth chewing over.

I found it hard to swallow this teaching at first, because those who were arguing for it presented little Scripture in support and seemed to be explaining away large tracts of Scripture that didn't fit with the teaching. But DeYoung doesn't do that.

Thanks for helping me to understand what everyone else was going on about, Kev.


Gordon Cheng said...

That's good, David! It's a hard thing to think about because of our creatureliness, but rewarding when we can rejoice in our Creator more deeply and greatly as a result.

Praise God indeed for his impassibility.

David McKay said...

Quote from Brendan Funnell, an Australian an Amazon reviewer:
Impassibility is far more subtle and complex idea than mere aloofness or coldness towards suffering. As is shown early in the work, a doctor who feels their patient's pain is rendered unable to perform the necessary operation to heal the suffering. Far from lacking feeling, impassibility is that which heals us, not that which bleeds with us uselessly in a modern notion of `solidarity with victimhood'.

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