Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Philosophy

Department

Philosophy and Religion

First Advisor

Steven Skultety

Second Advisor

Timothy Yenter

Third Advisor

Neil Manson

Relational Format

dissertation/thesis

Abstract

The argument of my thesis is that the God of Christian theology has adopted the doctrine of impassibility from Plato and Aristotle. According to this doctrine, God does not experience a variety of psychological states such as anger, sorrow, joy, and love. I will argue that the doctrine of impassibility is not only incongruent with the God of Scripture who is dynamic, redemptive, and loving toward his creation, but that it is antithetical to other core fundamental doctrines in Scripture. I begin by giving an overview of the debate in Part I by surveying the three views on passibility and impassibility in the schools of Thomistic, Reformed, and Open Theism. In Part II, I give the negative case against God’s impassibility by looking at key texts in Scripture that are thought to give support to impassibility. In this section, I also criticize arguments commonly made for impassibility. First, I critically examine a notion of transcendence that is often used to defend impassibility and show how this notion would completely ignore scriptural evidence that God possesses different psychological states in his dialogue with humans. Second, in Part II, I respond to the argument that passibility puts God’s sovereignty at risk and argue that a God who desires good for his creation is not problematic. In Part III, I lay out the positive case for why I think God is passible. My defense rests upon the idea of God’s divine freedom, the doctrine of the imago Dei, and the concept that God is capable of redeeming his creation.

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