Doctrine of Divine Impassibility

Our Confession unequivocally affirms that God is “without...passions”(2LCF 2.1). This is an affirmation of the classical doctrine of divine impassibility (DDI) consonant with the unified voice of historic confessional Reformed theology, particularly as articulated in the Westminster Confession of Faith (2.1), the Savoy Declaration (2.1), and the 42/39 Articles of the Church of England (Art. 1). The DDI asserts that God does not experience emotional changes either from within or effected by his relationship to creation. He is not changed from within or without; he remains unchanged and unchanging both prior and subsequent to creation.

The DDI has come under attack within the last century in various theological traditions. Many who would be classified as mainstream evangelicals have jettisoned this doctrine. There are a number of evangelicals who wish to retain some form of divine impassibility while at the same time attempting to affirm that God is also passible. Instead of affirming divine impassibility as an attribute of God that is a necessary consequent of divine immutability, they postulate a God who displays a full array of emotions which are subject to change according to his sovereign will. Rather than saying God does not suffer or undergo any emotional change whatsoever, some wish to affirm that God undergoes change in relation to the created order, just not involuntarily. From this perspective, while God expresses an array of divine emotions, he is affirmed to be in some sense impassible. . .

Doctrine of Divine Impassibility