The Majestically Impassible Passion of God

The Majestically Impassible Passion of God

From Rob Lister’s forthcoming book, God Is Impassible and Impassioned: Toward a Theology of Divine Emotion (Crossway; Nov. 30), pages 255–256:

In the aftermath of the fall, we do not hate sin as we ought, nor do we pursue righteousness as we should. Instead, we dabble with sin. Given a moment’s reflection, we recognize how foolish it is to dabble with sin. But because of the weakness of our affections, sin dabbling is what we love to pursue, apart from the grace of God (cf. 2 Thess. 2:9–10).

God’s ethical transcendence, then, is not one of dispassion, but of perfect passion. . . . God is eternally, transcendently, and unshakably loving in the intra-Trinitarian fellowship. The intra-Trinitarian delight never waxes or wanes. It never grows more vibrant than it is right now and has always been. In itself that foundational reality is not enhanced by virtue of our existence. Neither does it burn any dimmer because of our sin. God is as self-sufficient emotionally as he is volitionally and intellectually.

What does this mean for our pursuit of godly passion? I submit that when we discover the majestically impassible passion of God, we will consider it the grandest news of all that the God who intrinsically does not need us — not for intellectual counsel, not for volitional guidance, not for relational fulfillment, and not for an emotional outlet — has condescended to create us—and now due to sin, to remake us — as, among many other things, little images of his godly passion, to learn, embrace, live, and proclaim a godly jealousy for his glory.

As we grow in his grace and imitate his love, we will progressively seek to have God reign supreme in our affections, as well as our intellects; to have as uppermost in our affections that which is uppermost in his, namely, the glory of God; yes, even to hate what he hates, namely, the besmirching — in our estimation, for we cannot do it in reality — of that very glory. In part, then, when our emotional experience is most biblical, we will know the joy of theomorphically imaging God as we were originally designed to do.

 

Tony Reinke (@tonyreinke) is a content strategist at Desiring God, blogger, the author of Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (2011) and John Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (2015), and hosts the Ask Pastor John and Authors on the Line podcasts. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Karalee, and their three children.