If God doesn’t have emotions, can He care about you and me? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Yesterday, I was browsing Facebook and I saw someone make a post asking how God can care about us if He has no emotions? This idea has been known as impassibility where God has no emotions. It has been the teaching of Christians, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox, up until around the 1800’s.
If you want to respond and say “But look at this text where it says God was moved with compassion or was angry or XYZ!”, then I will tell you “Look at this text where it talks about the hand of God or the eyes of the Lord or any other number of bodily references? Most of us know that those bodily references are not to a real physical body, but they are describing God in ways we can understand. I do the same with the passages about emotions.
How about Jesus? Jesus had emotions in the text! Surely you’re not suggesting that those are just figures of speech are you?
Not at all! Jesus definitely has emotions and had them in his earthly journey and I contend He still has them today. However, if you want to say that means God has emotions, then you have the same problem again. Jesus still has a body and if you want to go this route, then you need to say that God has a body as well. If you want to say because of Jesus, God has emotions, but not a body, then you’re just picking and choosing.
Yet the question still remains. If we accept this, how can we say God cares about us or God loves us? It sounds like a difficult question until we do consider that we regularly do the same thing without emotions.
If you are married and think that the degree to which you love your spouse is dependent on your emotions, then you are going to be in for a hard time. There could be times you have a great degree of negative emotions towards them, such as in an argument, and when you do, you can still say that you love them. When you make a promise to love until death do you part, you do not make a promise to have an emotion. No one can make themselves have an emotion or else we would all make ourselves happy all the time. We can make ourselves act, even when a part of us doesn’t want to. Many of us do that when we get out of bed in the morning.
Too often, we start this also with ourselves. “When I have love, I can have emotion. Why not God?” It’s a mistake to look at us and say “God is like that.” God is not really like anything at all. As Scripture says “To whom can you compare me?” No one. It is really that we are like God. God is said to be the Father from whom all fatherhood comes. It’s not that a man can say “I am a father and I can see God is like that.” It’s really “God is a Father, and I am somewhat like Him.”
God loves us and God cares for us and that is not because He has an emotion, but because that is who He is. God is not loving, but rather God is love. God does not act and then develop an emotion, as if He was a changeable being in time. God consistently acts out of His nature.
We can say all day long “I don’t understand how that works,” but why should that matter? We can go to our churches and say that we believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. Is anyone going to stand up and say that you understand entirely how that works? If we think we understand God, then we have a really small God, hardly one worthy of worship.
Also, if one wants to question impassibility and simplicity and other doctrines, that is fine, but we have to ask why. If there is a consistent line that goes from the early church to modern times accepted by all three branches, what did we discover that they did not know? Before we take down a fence, we should see why it was put up in the first place.
God can have love towards us and have compassion towards us without emotion. Is that hard for me to understand? Of course, but what of God is easy to understand?
(And I affirm the virgin birth)