God Is Impassible and Impassioned: Toward a Theology of Divine Emotion


The doctrine of divine impassibility has sparked much controversy among modern theologians. After reviewing relevant historical, biblical, and theological issues, Lister proposes an understanding of God as fundamentally impassible and yet profoundly impassioned.

Read More Show Less
... See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
BN.com price
(Save 24%)$22.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (6) from $13.36   
  • New (5) from $13.36   
  • Used (1) from $17.25   
God Is Impassible and Impassioned: Toward a Theology of Divine Emotion

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price
(Save 41%)$17.99 List Price


The doctrine of divine impassibility has sparked much controversy among modern theologians. After reviewing relevant historical, biblical, and theological issues, Lister proposes an understanding of God as fundamentally impassible and yet profoundly impassioned.

Read More Show Less

What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“Though a young and upcoming evangelical scholar, Rob Lister has made a very significant contribution to one of the most difficult theological doctrines, the impassibility of God. By combining historical theology, interaction with contemporary nonevangelical theories, a retroductive theological method, circumspect metaphysical reflection on divine revelation, biblical theology, and systematic theology (especially theology proper and christology), Lister offers a convincing case that God is both impassible and impassioned. This book sets the standard on this topic and is a model of evangelical scholarship at its finest!”
Gregg R. Allison, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Although the concept of divine passibilism, appropriate in some ways for a deeply sentimentalized culture, is all the rage in modern theology, for most of the history of the church, God was viewed as being impassible. Why was this so, and how did the Bible shape this perspective of God? And can we construct a model in this regard that does justice to what the Scriptures and church history say about God, and that also engages with modern sensibilities? This study by Rob Lister is extremely helpful in answering these questions: it is preeminently scriptural, takes the Rezeptionsgeschichte of this doctrine very seriously, and satisfactorily answers current concerns.”
Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Rob Lister boldly goes where few evangelicals have gone before in this very helpful study of how best to make sense of what Scripture says about God’s emotions. Lister does away with caricatures of the Patristic tradition as having sold out to Greek philosophy, surveys contemporary evangelical positions on divine impassibility, and provides a constructive hermeneutical method and theological model for doing justice both to the impassibilist tradition and to biblical language about divine emotions. As G. K. Chesterton observes, ‘an inch is everything when you’re balancing,’ and to Lister’s credit he completes his routine without falling off the balance beam that is systematic theology.”
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Understanding how an infinite God relates to finite creatures is at the heart of most theological difficulties. How can God be holy and sovereign and personal and relational? That God is transcendent and immanent is central to understanding the God of the Bible. In this book, Rob Lister has given us tremendous help in navigating these deep theological waters. His theological method is a fantastic and much needed model of biblically grounded synthetic analysis that incorporates keen exegetical insights that are well informed by historical theology. Lister offers a biblically balanced understanding of God’s emotional life so that his sovereign majesty and covenant intimacy are preserved. The implications of this study for understanding God, humanity, Christ, relationships, and emotions in general are far-reaching and vital. I pray that the conclusions and theological method of this excellent work are deeply and widely influential for the glory of God.”
Erik Thoennes, Professor of Theology, Chair, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; Pastor, Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada, California

“In this well-organized and well-written volume, Rob Lister challenges the view that the church fathers’ version of divine impassibility precluded God’s showing emotion. He swims upstream against modern passibilism, and he opposes those evangelicals who reject impassibility in the name of affirming divine passion. I was impressed with Lister’s accuracy and kindness whenever he takes exception to others’ views. The work is largely positive and constructive rather than negative and reactive. Lister argues ‘passionately’ for the view that God is both impassible and impassioned, even as he is both transcendent and immanent. Lister’s work demonstrates multiple areas of competence—historical, biblical, theological, and philosophical—and is nuanced, holding that ‘God’s passion transcends human passion both ontologically and ethically.’ I am, therefore, pleased to commend it to readers for serious consideration.”
Robert A. Peterson, Professor of Systematic Theology, Covenant Theological Seminary

“Whether God is subject to suffering is hardly a recent question, but it is an issue that contemporary Christians have been constrained to ponder carefully in order to provide scripturally measured and biblically tempered answers in a generation that prefers to conceive of and worship a God forged after human likeness. Despite the profundity of this issue and the inherent difficulty of giving adequate expression to whether God is passible or impassible, Rob Lister provides accessibility and clarity to this issue in a scripturally governed, admirably balanced, and manifestly humble manner. He engages theologians ancient and modern as his theological conversation partners while he guides readers through the many pitfalls and hazards that threaten to entangle us primarily in two antithetical but equally defective views of God: either to cast him in our image and likeness or to project onto him an aloofness that renders him cold, even grotesque. Lister rightly insists that in order to provide biblically rooted answers to the questions he addresses it is crucial to acknowledge and embrace the chasm that distinguishes the Creator from his creatures. Yet, equally crucial is the fact that the Creator made humanity, the creature, in his image and after his likeness, for this is God’s revelatory nexus by which God makes himself known to us both as impassible and as impassioned.”
Ardel B. Caneday, Professor of New Testament Studies and Biblical Theology, Northwestern College; coauthor, The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance

“This is an excellent study in systematic theology that exemplifies detailed research in biblical theology and historical theology, and draws these into a coherent systematic construction with relevance for contemporary life. I found Lister’s hermeneutical and theological analyses of passibilist and impassibilist arguments to be instructive and sharp. The project is well conceived and follows an explicit methodology with systematic guardrails from Scripture to frame the difficult biblical and theological details. Lister has ably handled difficult questions that impinge on God’s impassibility and passionate involvement with his creations: God’s relation to time and eternity, incarnate suffering, biblical accounts of God’s repentance, theodicy, and God’s immanence and transcendence. Despite the difficulties, Lister provides careful definitional distinctions and clarity of communication in a surprisingly light writing style that is uncommon to academic theology.”
John E. McKinley, Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; author, Tempted for Us

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433532412
  • Publisher: Crossway Books
  • Publication date: 11/30/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Rob Lister (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at the Talbot School of Theology. His primary research interests include theology proper, christology, and sanctification—all of which are fused together at the hub of his book on divine impassibility. He and his wife, LuWinn, have four children.

Bruce A. Ware (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and has authored God's Lesser Glory, God's Greater Glory, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Expanded Outline 11

Foreword Bruce A. Ware 16

Preface 19

Acknowledgments 24

Abbreviations 27

1 Impassibility: What's in a Name? 29

Part 1 The Doctrine of Divine Impassibility in Historical Context

2 Contextualizing Patristic Thought on Divine Impassibility: The Hellenization Hypothesis 41

3 Patristic Models of Divine Impassibility 64

4 Medieval and Reformational Reflections on Divine Impassibility 107

5 Assessing the Widespread Rejection of Divine Impassibility in Modern Theology 123

6 Contemporary Impassibilist Thought and Evangelical Reflection on Divine Impassibility 148

Part 2 A Contemporary Case for Understanding God as Both Impassible and Impassioned

7 Impassible and Impassioned: Toward a Theological Hermeneutic 171

8 Impassible and Impassioned: Interpretive Prospects 189

9 Impassible and Impassioned: A Theological Model 217

10 Impassibility and Incarnation: A Concluding Christological Reflection 260

Conclusion 280

Bibliography 285

General Index 315

Scripture Index 325

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)