Re: impassibility

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Fri Dec 02 2005 - 13:56:21 EST

As I noted earlier, there are those who claim that the Incarnation is
impossible because of the incompatibility of an eternal deity and
temporal humanity. And I am not arguing about algebra, merely noting that
there is a major objection here from both Jew and Muslim.

As for "some temporality appropriate to God," I take the problem to be
that human beings are so totally temporal that they cannot imagine any
existence which is not in some way temporal. But imposing my experience
on the deity is not warranted. Let me suggest an analogy. We anticipate,
thinking of what may happen even though it will not occur. A hunter saves
money to get the license and gun he needs to go hunting months ahead of
time. His dog is essentially restricted to the immediate. There is no
recognition that hunting season opens in 4 days. So how does one restrict
the hunter to the dog's insight? Or make the beast understand the
hunter's anticipation? I submit that there is a far greater distance
between God and man than between man and dog.

You refer to: 'The full statement that I made, which you say you don't
hold, was, "you have the strange result that the divine person suffers
but the divine nature of which that person is one hypostasis doesn't." '
as something I did not respond to. My "I sympathize with your problems,
but I will not give you a resolution until you present a clear
explanation of the communication between the eternal Father and the
incarnate Son, and among the Trinity." is, I believe, the only possible
response. You want an exposition of HOW the Eternal Spirit feels. The
best I can do is deal with what my temporal body feels and the coupled
emotions whose location I cannot prove beyond the fact that neurologists
find associations with brain activity. I can empathize with the
experiences of Jesus while he lived among us, but I can't extrapolate
that to the connection with the experiences of his deity as part of the
hypostatic union. Further, I don't understand the experiences of the
risen Jesus, though I have the promise of being like him. Indeed, Paul
says it's already done despite my lack of experiencing it.

Dealing with theological matters begins with exegesis, on which we can
usually find agreement. But not always. For example, does /anothen/ mean
"again," "from above," or both? Hermeneutics gets us into disagreements
that remain. On top of these are the constructions different persons put
on matters, what seems plausible. I hold that these last have to be
subject to noncontradiction among the consequences wrung out of them.
This last depends in part on the assumptions recognized. I hold that
being Creator and being temporal are contradictory. You hold that not
experiencing the pain of the crucifixion at the time is incompatible with
being a merciful God. I contend that this imposes a human condition on
the entire Trinity which is not totally human. Is this difference logical
or emotional?

On Fri, 2 Dec 2005 08:40:04 -0500 "George Murphy" <>
Dave et al. (belatedly)

1st, what I've been talking about can't realistically be described as "my
problems" as if they were just the personal hangups of George Murphy.
They are issues that have to be faced by anyone who wants to take
seriously that the one who is God Incarnate suffered under Pontius

"A clear explanation of the communication between the eternal Father and
the incarnate Son, and among the Trinity" is of course exactly what
doctrines of the Trinity are supposed to be. Again I would refer to Ted
Peters book for a survey of modern trinitarian theology, & point out that
most attempts to do more than repeat old formulae do recognize that there
is some temporality appropriate to God - a temporality which is not
simply identified with the world's time.

There are difficulties with trinitarian theology connected with the fact
that we're trying to speak of the inner life of God & have only limited
information. But trying to explain how 1 equals 3 isn't a problem. No
serious theologian has ever made such a claim. The doctrine of the
Trinity isn't about algebra.

I don't think you take seriously the possibility - discussed my a number
of the theologians I've referred to - that there is a time appropriate to
God's own life which transcends created time & of which created time is a
subset. I noted, e.g., the possibility of 2 dimensional time, which
would not be simply linear or cyclic. & you don't answer the question I
posed in my 1st paragraph below: Are you talking about some kind of
eternal & timeless suffering of the Father?

Received on Fri Dec 2 14:04:02 2005

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