God's Aseity and Impassibility

John Frame's Systematic Theology
Chapter 19.  The Self-Contained God

Aseity is from the Latin a se, from itself.  This refers to God's independent existence.
The classic text that shows this is Exodus 3:14, where God tells Moses, "I am that I am."
Theologians usually treat this metaphysically, but it also applies to how we know what we know, and how we know what is right.  Both have their starting point in God.  Truth and right are both defined by who God is, not by some standard outside to Him, to which He must adhere.

God owns all things, and anything we give Him, He gave us first.  So God has no needs (Ps 50:8-12; Acts 17:24-25).  We assume this in our worship (Rom 11:36).

Non Christian thought seeks ultimate being, truth and ethic in natural law, secular authority, human experience, reason, duty or consequences.  But they fail outside of the one God, in whom all three ultimates converge.

God as Impassible
Does God have feelings?  The bible certainly says so often.  Many theologians deny this from a Greek perspective (unbiblical) that emotions are a sign of weakness.  God can think without a brain, so He can have emotions without a body.  Emotion is usually a response to some change and event, which God can have, even if He ordained the change and event.  "God is ultimately active not passive," and the term impassible can be used to mean this.

Proper evaluation of things often requires "exciting language"!  The phrase "King of kings" is more rhetorical or emotional than to say that "God rules."  But it is also more true.  Frame: "without emotions, God would lack intellectual capacity," He couldn't fully express the truth.

There are emotions inappropriate to God.  He doesn't make decisions based on temporary feelings, isn't addicted to feelings, or anxious about things.  But this doesn't mean He can't have any emotions.

Can God suffer?
Modern theologians argue yes, while the classics said no.
God emotionally empathizes with us (Isa 63:9; Heb 4:15; John 11:35).  But this isn't the same as suffering injury or loss.  Jesus suffered on the cross, and thus God did.  It wasn't a human nature as opposed to a divine nature that suffered, it was the Second person of the Trinity.  Since He is one with the Father, He somehow shares in the suffering of the Son, but does not have the same experience the Son has.  He knows the agony.  But "God in His transcendent nature cannot be harmed in any way, nor can He suffer loss."  This would mean losing an attribute like infinity, or losing in Satan's war with Him.

So God can love and empathize with us, but that doesn't make Him vulnerable and weak in His being.

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