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

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Modern theologians have focused on the doctrine of divine impassibility, exploring the significance of God’s emotional experience and most especially the question of divine suffering. Professor Rob Lister speaks into the issue, outlining the history of the doctrine in the views of influential figures such as Augustine, Aquinas, and Luther, while carefully examining modernity’s growing rejection of impassibility and the subsequent evangelical response. With an eye toward holistic synthesis, this book proposes a theological model based upon fresh insights into the historical, biblical, and theological dimensions of this important doctrine.


Table of Contents:

1. Impassibility: What’s in Name?

Part 1: The Doctrine of Divine Impassibility in Historical Context 
2.  Contextualizing Patristic Thought on Divine Impassibility: The Hellenization Hypothesis 
3.  Patristic Models of Divine Impassibility 
4.  Medieval and Reformational Reflections on Divine Impassibility 
5.  Assessing the Widespread Rejection of Divine Impassibility in Modern Theology 
6.  Contemporary Impassibilist Thought and Evangelical Reflection on Divine Impassibility 

Part 2: A Contemporary Case for Understanding God as Both Impassible and Impassioned
7.  Impassible and Impassioned: Toward a Viable Theological Hermeneutic 
8.  Impassible and Impassioned: Interpretive Prospects 
9.  Impassible and Impassioned: A Theological Model 
10.  Impassibility and Incarnation: A Concluding Christological Reflection



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.



“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; Director, The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies