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Doctrinal Questions
Does God Have Feelings and Emotions?

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God's Impassiblity
It is often wrongly argued from Acts 14:11-15 (esp. v. 15), that God is without passions, feelings, or emotions. And, while it is true that these verses draw a very clear distinction between man and God, they do not teach that God is emotionless. In fact, the whole of scriptures teaches clearly that God has emotions. God loves his people (Is. 54:5), is true love (1 John 4:8), rejoices with his people (Is. 62:5), is grieved by his people (Ps. 78:40), pities his people (Ps. 103:13), and expresses his wrath against sin (Ex. 32:10), etc.... As creatures made in the image of God, one might expect that the feelings and emotions of man are reflections to some extent of God's own emotional capacities.

Because scripture interprets scripture, the key point of Acts 14:11-5, therefore, is not that God has no feelings or emotions. While Paul is teaching that there is a fundamental difference between man's nature and God's, the difference is not that man has passions, while God does not. Instead, the emotions of man are quite different than God's. Additionally, these emotions and feelings happen upon the two quite differently.

An examination of the acts of God recorded in the Bible compared to the track record of man demonstrates unambiguous differences in how God bears and expresses his emotions. In the case of God, there can be no rash or extreme forms of emotion. To be sure, God's emotions never lead to sin. Man, on the other hand, will often act in the extreme and allow his fleeting emotions to sway his actions or immediate thinking. In many cases, man's emotions lead directly to sin (Jer. 17:9). Man is certainly like a "wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind" (James 1:6). Man is not slow to speak or act out of his emotions, but he is rash. God, on the other hand, is balanced, temperate, and unchanging in his purposes.

The second factor that distinguishes the emotions of God and man is the means by which the two experience these emotions. In the case of God, all of his emotions are entered into voluntarily. God is never "surprised" by something that affects him, since he is the Sovereign Creator who has planned all things from before all time. Man, on the other hand, is subject to experiences beyond his control and enters into all of his emotions rather involuntarily.

Therefore, when God is described biblically to be impassible, it does not mean that God has no feeling. For the contrary is quite the truth, that God is personal and has interacted directly with man throughout history - for he is God With Us, Immanuel. That is the beauty of a Covenant God, a God who most supremely demonstrated his emotions and feelings for man in the cross of Christ, by sending his own Son into this world to bear the sins of his people. It is perhaps the greatest act of personal love and wrath a God would ever have conceived and executed. It was purposed from before all time and carried out with surety in time in Jesus Christ. It is the act of an impassible God who is complete with joy, yet who feels and emotes perfectly and voluntarily.

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