Does God Have Emotions?

Rosalie de Rosset
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Some time ago, a number of theologians did articulate a doctrine known as the “impassability of God” in which they contended that God was without what they called “passions.” One could suggest that this stems from a fear that God would be seen as unstable because He had emotions. I myself have heard this teaching in classrooms. Such an image of God as what philosophers call an “unmoved mover” with little connection to us as human beings is more a product of Greek philosophy’s emphasis on the dualism between flesh and spirit than on biblical teaching. Such a God becomes remote, the proverbial white-bearded “man in the sky” looking at us indifferently from the heavenly balcony.

I heard a fine sermon by Erwin Lutzer, former pastor of The Moody Church, on this subject and was heartened again to hear that the answer was yes, God does have emotions; the evidence for this is in Scripture. First of all, it is important to note that God’s emotions are not identical to ours; God is not subject to the dark side of emotions or to instability. As John Calvin said, God “lisps” to us in language we can understand.

So the Bible tells us that He loves (John 3:16), He is grieved (Gen. 6:6), He becomes angry (Deut. 1:37), He is filled with pity (Judg. 2:18), He has compassion (Ps. 103:13), and He rejoices over us (Isa. 62:5), to name only a few. In the words of the old hymn, “The love of God is greater far / than tongue or pen can ever tell; It goes beyond the highest star / and reaches to the lowest hell. . . . It shall forevermore endure / The saints’ and angels’ song.”

For Further Reading:

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book cover for Do Angels Really Have Wings?