Some Reformed Reflection on God’s Emotional Life

The classical treatment of God’s emotional capacity hasn’t been satisfactory to some Reformed thinkers (Part 1). But some modern scholars have overreacted and portrayed a God who is ultimately passible, vulnerable, and something less than absolutely sovereign and omniscient (Part 2). In the first part of article below I review statements by several older Reformed writers on the subject of emotion or affections ascribed to God. These writers seemed at times to affirm that God has emotive capacity but, at other times, to interpret emotional language ascribed to God as simply metaphors for divine action (rather than affection). So there appears to be equivocation at times. I also consider the Richard Muller’s assessment of the Reformed writers on this topic and also note apparent equivocation on his part. Part of the reason may be that the older writers were more concerned to explain what emotions ascribed to God were not (via negativa), rather than to give a more positive description of divine emotivity. In the second part of the article, I cite a good number of more recent Reformed and Evangelical theologians who attempt to offer a more positive affirmation of divine affective or emotive capacity. For Part Four of this series, click here

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B.G.

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