Thursday, April 9, 2009

Does God Suffer?!? -- Heretic Watch!

Scot McKnight, over at Jesus Creed, has been working through a book on heresies. This week's heresy concerning whether God suffers. The gist of it goes like this:

The Church, our collective faith, has held to the "impassibility" of God: "God can't be changed from without and that he can't change himself from within" (61). God can't change from a better to a worse state -- that's impassibility -- and if he did that would be suffering.

... well, you really need to read the post and the comments to understand what Scot thinks the author meant. Really, read all of it!

Here is my comment:

Very interesting discussion, everyone!

Dan, I'm finding your comments are triggering my best thoughts. Thanks for commenting so frequently! ;^)

For those of you who have been around Jesus Creed for a while will know, the primary context I use for everything biblical is one of covenant, and consequently, hesed. The nature of God is covenant maker and keeper. God is therefore completely faithful to the terms and conditions of the covenant ratified in the blood of Jesus on the cross. In this there is no thought of change. It is, as it were, a done deal.

However, covenant keeping is relational -- that's also part of the perichoretic nature of God that the Spirit is drawing us into. And there is no way to be involved relationally without suffering.

I do, however, agree that the kind of suffering that God does is not the kind that "changes" their nature, as in making more mature or more open or more anything. When we suffer, we do change -- we become more like Christ!

This Christ-like suffering is not something that God considered "beneath" their sovereignty. Perhaps it is part of its very fiber? The suffering of Christ as human was, in part, to provide for us an advocate who has suffered in all ways as we do.

The point of the divine being associated with this suffering is not to "damage" God, but to help us remember that we matter to God -- and that God is at all times actively working in and through all of our suffering to bring about that which is best for us. This is the very nature of hesed: acting so that the best interest of the covenant partner is served.

The point is that Christ, the human, knew that the suffering he was going through would be made glorious by the Father. And we need to remember that Christ was right.

The Abbess asks: Purple Martyrdom, anyone? Very interesting discussion, everyone!

And I'm grateful to be reminded, as we close out Holy Week, that the suffering of our Savior was something Papa and Sarayu participated in ... without making anyone a heretic!


The Abbess of the Purple Martyrdom


Matt Stone said...

Sounds like there is some Greek vs Hebrew worldview clashes going on there.

Diane said...

Hi Peggy,

Thanks for the info on this JC blog thread, which I completely missed. Hope you are well! My computer(s) (like old cars!) have been running sporadically, so it's hard for me to go a-visitin'. But today, I grabbed the opportunity ... Peggy, we need to blog about leadership, I think! What makes a good leader to you?

AbiSomeone said...

Hello, Matt and Diane! Thanks for stopping by.... my opinion, there is some Greek vs Hebrew worldview clash going on most of the time. Sigh....

Diane, I would love to blog on leadership. Maybe that is something that I will do over at Shapevine and link it back over here? Hmmm....

The quick answer is: A good leader is someone who is following Jesus very closely.

I my 40 Days of Hesed, I used the metaphor of riding a tandem bide. That's kind of what I mean.

Hope your computer problems get solved -- I am honored that some of your "visitin'" time brought you over my way, sister!