by R. C. Sproul
When we speak of God’s will of disposition, we are quickly confronted with questions raised by the classic doctrine of the impassibility of God. Sometimes the impassibility of God is expressed philosophically in such a way as to describe God as being utterly incapable of feeling. In a desire to protect the immutability of God and to free Him from all passions that would be dependent upon the actions of the creature and to insure the constant and abiding state of pure and total felicity in God, the accent falls on His being feeling-less. This robs God of His personal character and reduces Him to an impersonal force or blob of cosmic energy.
This kind of impassibility makes a mockery of the Biblical revelation of the character of God. It is one thing to insure that God is not subject to mood swings by which His beatific state is disturbed or destroyed or that His passions cause perturbations in His character. However, we must not let a speculative form of impassibility strip God of His personal attributes, especially His attribute of love. We do not need to embrace either the Patripassion heresy (whereby the Father suffers in the death of Christ), or the theopaschatist heresy (whereby the divine nature of Christ suffers and dies on the cross) in order to affirm the reality of affection in God. If there is no feeling in God, there can be no affection in Him. If He has no capacity for affection, He has no capacity for love.
The Bible is filled with references to the feelings of God. Though they may represent anthropomorphic ideas and employ the language of analogy, they are certainly not meaningless. Consider the words of the psalmist:
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him. (Ps. 103:8–13)