Gordon H. Clark on God’s “emotions”


“Does the Bible indicate that God is subject to involuntary non-intellectual upheavals in his usually calm state of mine? Well, hardly. The West Minster Confession, the best summary of the contents of the Bible, says that God is without parts and passions. Parts refer to bodily organs. Bodies have parts, minds do not. But God is also without passions. The word passion, in more modern terminology affection, is wider than the term emotion but includes the latter. A passion or affection is the result of being affected by some external force. A dog is affected by a whipping; a student is affected, sometimes, by the possibility of a good grade. There are modern psychology books written about ” the affective consciousness”. But God is not affected by anything. Or, in another translation of the Greek term, God does not “suffer” anything.
On the contrary, not only the West Minster Confession, but all or nearly all the historic creeds say that God is immutable. He does not change. Emotion, however, is a sudden, involuntary change. To have emotions would be inconsistent with God’s eternal state of blessedness.
Now someone may say that God loves and that love is an emotion. But with respect to love, two points must be made. First, God’s love is eternal, therefore not a sudden change, therefore not an emotion. Second, God commands us to love him. A commandment requires voluntary obedience. Therefore the love God commands is volitional, not emotional. – Gordon H. Clark

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One Response to Gordon H. Clark on God’s “emotions”

  1. Sean Gerety says:

    Hi, I would like to reblog this as the quote is spot on, but the above should be Westminster not West Minster.

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