Author Topic: Does God have emotions?  (Read 2996 times)

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Offline St. Christopher

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Does God have emotions?
« on: August 23, 2008, 04:19:21 PM »
I've been told that God doesn't have emotions (anger, joy, jealousy, love, etc.)  It was said that if He did He wouldn't be God.  I was also told the Church throughout the ages has believed this idea.  Is this true?

Offline Orthodoc

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2008, 04:29:57 PM »
I've been told that God doesn't have emotions (anger, joy, jealousy, love, etc.)  It was said that if He did He wouldn't be God.  I was also told the Church throughout the ages has believed this idea.  Is this true?

Very Good question.  If God has no emotions then why do we speak about 'the wrath of God' or quote Scripture that says things like 'vengence is mine saith the Lord'?

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« Last Edit: August 23, 2008, 04:30:37 PM by Orthodoc »
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Offline alexp4uni

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2008, 04:54:53 PM »
Very Good question.  If God has no emotions then why do we speak about 'the wrath of God' or quote Scripture that says things like 'vengence is mine saith the Lord'?

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« Last Edit: August 23, 2008, 05:12:45 PM by alexp4uni »

Offline Salpy

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2008, 05:08:19 PM »
I think the question is whether God Himself has emotions.  I don't know.  I've heard He doesn't, but then in the Bible they talk about Him loving people, getting angry sometimes, etc.

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2008, 05:24:14 PM »
As I understand our theology, God is impassible, which means He does not experience emotions as we understand them.  The Bible and our Tradition speak of God showing us in His actions toward us that which we interpret to be emotions, but this is merely an attribute of how God relates to us.  In and of His utterly transcendent self, though, God is impassible and incapable of experiencing what we understand to be emotions.  (Maybe one more learned than I in Patristic theology or the wisdom of the ancient theological schools--i.e., Alexandria and Antioch--can elucidate this more.)
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2008, 05:26:29 PM »
Quote
God is impassible, which means He does not experience emotions as we understand them.

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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2008, 05:45:11 PM »
Another way to think about it is that we use anthropomorphic language to describe God's actions toward us--we attribute emotions to Him--but this language cannot really begin to describe that which is the transcendent, inexpressible reality in God.  To limit God by restricting Him to our finite understanding and language is to recreate God in our own image, which is, in a way, idolatry.
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2008, 06:10:49 PM »
Yes, I, too, learned that God is beyond our understanding and to ascribe to Him our features (like emotions, passions, change) is idolatry. God is Love. That's perhaps the only "positive," "cataphatic" statement that we have the right to make about Him. Otherwise, as Fathers taught, we should remain "apophatic" about God, i.e. know what He is NOT. Particularly, He is NOT universe, not something that has limits, limitations in time and space, and He is not something that undergoes a change. So, strictly speaking, He does not get angry (anger is a passion), vindictive, "jealous," etc. When the Bible says about His "anger" or "jealousy," it's figures of speech, like in other places where it says that He has eyes, hands, feet, etc.
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Offline Basil 320

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2008, 12:20:55 AM »
Well, yes, I can't disagree with the above comments, but don't forget, we believe "in one Lord, Jesus Christ...True God of True God...of one essence with the Father..."  Jesus suffered in pain and didn't he get angry, "Women, what have you to do with me, my hour has not yet come."
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2008, 12:34:57 AM »
Well, yes, I can't disagree with the above comments, but don't forget, we believe "in one Lord, Jesus Christ...True God of True God...of one essence with the Father..."  Jesus suffered in pain and didn't he get angry, "Women, what have you to do with me, my hour has not yet come."
However, you're confusing Christ's humanity with His impassible Divinity.  Only in His perfect union with man is it possible for the Son of God to experience human emotions.  In His Divine Essence, however, the Son of God does not experience human emotions.

If you're using His dialogue with His mother as evidence that He became angry, I can think of better examples, such as the time He drove the money changers out of the Temple.  I find it very difficult to see any anger in His dialogue with the Theotokos at Cana.
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2008, 09:06:57 AM »
Well, yes, I can't disagree with the above comments, but don't forget, we believe "in one Lord, Jesus Christ...True God of True God...of one essence with the Father..."  Jesus suffered in pain and didn't he get angry, "Women, what have you to do with me, my hour has not yet come."

It's rather complex. According to the Chalcedon Christological dogmat, Christ unites two essences(human and Divine) in one Person ("hypostasis"). These two essences do not mix with each other. Therefore, we say that Christ felt hunger, thirst, cold, and also experienced what we call emotions "in His humanity." On the other hand, He did not experience anything of that sort "in His Divinity," because God is not subject to any change, and feelings or emotions necessarily involve change (a certain "movement" in the human brain followed by a change in the "status" of the human personatily - appearance, body temperature, work of the physiological systems like the digestive tract, etc.). Yet, we, indeed, say that Christ was cruicified and suffered and was buried - and sometimes we, indeed, say that God was cruicified and suffered and was buried. If I am not mistaken, we do this to stress the unity of the two esseces in one "hypostasis" in Christ our God.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2008, 09:29:38 AM by Heorhij »
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2008, 05:31:47 PM »
It's my understanding that emotions are a purely human thing; when we speak of God exhibiting an emotion, it is most often the literary technique of anthropomorphism, the attributing of human characteristics to non-human characters. It is similar to speaking of God's hands or face. Yet, although the pre-eternal God does not have emotion, Christ put on emotion when He became human, just like He put on every other part of humanity. Yet emotion of itself is not necessarily a bad thing; why would God say, "In your anger do not sin," if being angry was itself sinful? There must be a way to control one's emotions so that they do not become sinful.

I'm sorry I can't tell you which specific Father thought this or quote chapter and verse to you--but this is a simple understanding from someone who has listened well to four years of sermons.
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2008, 05:34:36 PM »
I'm not sure if emotion is strictly limited to creation.  God is not a Vulcan.  The Holy Trinity is a perfect loving relationship between the hypostases.  Would it be fair to say that perhaps emotion is an energy of God?
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2008, 05:45:41 PM »
God is not a Vulcan.
I should hope not! Every vulcan except Mr. Spock has thoroughly irritated me (and I think Mr. Spock is an exception precisely because he wasn't so rigidly without emotion).

Quote
Would it be fair to say that perhaps emotion is an energy of God?
Perhaps. I'm not sure we can really understand God's "emotions." We know that emotion is primarily a function of brain chemistry responding to specific stimuli--and as God has none of these things, it is quite difficult for us to make a comparison. That's why regarding this issue, I tend to focus on the literary value of God's emotions in Scripture.
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2008, 08:12:10 PM »
Would it be fair to say that perhaps emotion is an energy of God?
Speculation, certainly, not that this has no place in Orthodox theology. ;)  I just don't see how this answers St. Christopher's question.
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Offline Hopeful Faithful

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2008, 01:09:42 PM »
Greetings everyone,

Emotion is one of the things which Christians must lose most all.

This is something very confusing to people today.

People confuse feelings (anger, joy, jealousy, love, etc.) with emotion.

Feeling and emotion are two entirely different things.

Allow me to quote (in context) from somebody that might carry more weight than me here.

Everyone gets something right, so I see no problem showing this.

The late Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh said,

"Emotion must be destroyed"

And again,

"We have to get rid of emotions...in order to reach...feeling."

Feeling and emotion is a key difference between Eastern and Western Christianity.

I explain emotion as uncontrolled feeling, something which none of us should want.

This is why so much of what is known as music, theater, sports and other such things are unchristian.

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Offline EofK

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2008, 02:06:44 PM »
^Which does not answer the question as to whether God has emotions. 
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. -- Douglas Adams

Offline Hopeful Faithful

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2008, 02:22:16 PM »
^Which does not answer the question as to whether God has emotions. 

Oh, but it does, for authentic Christians merely immitate Christ, the God-man.

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« Last Edit: August 25, 2008, 03:12:57 PM by Hopeful Faithful »
HIS Judgment Cometh, And That Right Soon! Mark 13:35

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Offline EofK

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2008, 03:02:15 PM »
Yes, we are to imitate God.  Could you please elaborate on feelings vs. emotions?
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2008, 03:17:44 PM »
Feeling and emotion are two entirely different things.
No they aren't.

Oh, but it does, for authentic Christians merely immitate Christ, who is the God-man.
But then God would have emotions according to the Gospel.
The word "emotion" means something which causes a physical stirring or agitation, it is a feeling which "moves" one. In the Gospel we read:
"When he saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36). The original Koine word which is translated as "compassion" is "εσπλαγχνισθη" which literally means "his bowels moved within Him". Christ was moved by what he felt, therefore He experienced emotion.

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Offline EofK

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2008, 03:21:21 PM »
^Ah, thank you, OzGeorge.  That's the passage I had in mind but couldn't remember quite what it said. 
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Offline SolEX01

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #21 on: August 25, 2008, 03:25:36 PM »
Emotion is one of the things which Christians must lose most all.

This is something very confusing to people today.

People confuse feelings (anger, joy, jealousy, love, etc.) with emotion.

Feeling and emotion are two entirely different things.

What would you call passions?  Are they feelings?  Are they emotions?  Are they both?  If you had used passions, I would agree with you.

Allow me to quote (in context) from somebody that might carry more weight than me here.

Everyone gets something right, so I see no problem showing this.

The late Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh said,

"Emotion must be destroyed"

And again,

"We have to get rid of emotions...in order to reach...feeling."

What is the context of both the passages you quoted?  What is the source of both these passages?

Feeling and emotion is a key difference between Eastern and Western Christianity.

I explain emotion as uncontrolled feeling, something which none of us should want.

This is why so much of what is known as music, theater, sports and other such things are unchristian.

If that works for you, Amen!  However, Scripture says that what works for you won't necessarily work for anyone else.  Why impose your views on everyone else?

Offline Tzimis

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2008, 04:15:18 PM »
I don't believe Agape is an emotion. I'll have to check my sources on this one. Good question by the op.
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2008, 04:29:27 PM »

The late Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh said,

"Emotion must be destroyed"

And again,

"We have to get rid of emotions...in order to reach...feeling."

Dear HopefulFaithful, could you please refer to the source from which you were quoting this? I have read some works by Vladyka Anthony, and I am kind of curious because this sounds so much NOT like him.
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Offline Hopeful Faithful

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #24 on: August 25, 2008, 04:57:11 PM »
I believe compassion is a living feeling.

I believe that emotion is a deadly passion.

I do not believe that anyone can impose an idea on others, we all make our choices as to what we believe.

Everything speaks for itself.

I agree with Anthony Bloom in this area.

He says in his book, Beginning to Pray, that emotion makes God absent from prayer.

"Begin with the silence of the lips, with the silence of the emotions" Page 94.

Christ prayed constantly and was never absent from God, accordingly, He never had emotion.

Christ had compassion, which is a part of life.

I believe it is dangerous to compare "emotion" with the life giving feeling of "compassion".

The loving attitude of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is well established, and I do not believe such a forum as this can change Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Is there any good Eastern Orthodox Christian example that explains God as having emotion?

I have only seen the cotrary.













HIS Judgment Cometh, And That Right Soon! Mark 13:35

If any man be ignorant, let him alone be ignorant (at his own peril). 1 Cor. 14:38

Let us all hope to be found a faithful, loving bond-slave of Christ on the soon approaching Last Day.

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2008, 05:34:46 PM »
I believe compassion is a living feeling.

I believe that emotion is a deadly passion.

I do not believe that anyone can impose an idea on others, we all make our choices as to what we believe.

Everything speaks for itself.

I agree with Anthony Bloom in this area.

He says in his book, Beginning to Pray, that emotion makes God absent from prayer.

"Begin with the silence of the lips, with the silence of the emotions" Page 94.

Christ prayed constantly and was never absent from God, accordingly, He never had emotion.

Christ had compassion, which is a part of life.

I believe it is dangerous to compare "emotion" with the life giving feeling of "compassion".

The loving attitude of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is well established, and I do not believe such a forum as this can change Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Is there any good Eastern Orthodox Christian example that explains God as having emotion?

I have only seen the cotrary.
Within the context of this discussion of Orthodox theology, however, it matters not one iota what you think if you can't provide support for your theology from the Holy Fathers (or a satisfactory quote from Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh when asked, just to show the context of the statements you HAVE quoted).
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2008, 05:44:37 PM »
I agree with Anthony Bloom in this area.
He says in his book, Beginning to Pray, that emotion makes God absent from prayer.
"Begin with the silence of the lips, with the silence of the emotions" Page 94.

Thank you. I haven't read this particular book, although I have read his "Prayer and Life" (http://www.metropolit-anthony.orc.ru/eng/eng_05.htm), and a few other (in Russian, "Учитeсь молиться," http://www.wco.ru/biblio/books/antons10/Main.htm, and "Можeт ли eщe молиться соврeмeнный чeловeк", http://www.wco.ru/biblio/books/antons22/Main.htm), and I did not get from there that he is viewing emotions as necessarily something bad. Rather, he says that when we begin to pray, we must be careful not to listen to our own emotions INSTEAD of God.

Is there any good Eastern Orthodox Christian example that explains God as having emotion?
I have only seen the cotrary.

God does not have emotions, but Christ in his HUMANITY most certainly experienced emotions (see OzGeorge's explanation). And I believe we have to imitate Christ in His humanity.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2008, 05:45:57 PM by Heorhij »
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Offline Paulie

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2008, 09:35:15 PM »
Hi, everyone.  I just recently joined this forum.  (My Godfather posted one of my questions ... about Rosh HaShona... thank you for your responses!)  But to get to the topic at hand, God and whether or not He has emotions...  I tend to believe that it's a mystery.  We just don't know.  I think there are a lot of things about God for which there simply aren't earthly words.  You know when you get a soaring feeling of awe and beauty so deep inside your soul that the words "awe" and "beauty" just aren't great enough to describe it?  I think God's like that. 
Paulie

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #28 on: August 25, 2008, 09:42:09 PM »
Welcome to the forum!   :)

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2008, 09:52:26 PM »
Hi, everyone.  I just recently joined this forum.  (My Godfather posted one of my questions ... about Rosh HaShona... thank you for your responses!)  But to get to the topic at hand, God and whether or not He has emotions...  I tend to believe that it's a mystery.  We just don't know.  I think there are a lot of things about God for which there simply aren't earthly words.  You know when you get a soaring feeling of awe and beauty so deep inside your soul that the words "awe" and "beauty" just aren't great enough to describe it?  I think God's like that. 
Paulie
Well said!  And welcome to OC.net. ;D
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2008, 05:59:26 PM »
You know when you get a soaring feeling of awe and beauty so deep inside your soul that the words "awe" and "beauty" just aren't great enough to describe it?  I think God's like that. 
Paulie

Welcome Paulie!
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2008, 06:29:16 PM »
Hi, everyone.  I just recently joined this forum.  (My Godfather posted one of my questions ... about Rosh HaShona... thank you for your responses!)  But to get to the topic at hand, God and whether or not He has emotions...  I tend to believe that it's a mystery.  We just don't know.  I think there are a lot of things about God for which there simply aren't earthly words.  You know when you get a soaring feeling of awe and beauty so deep inside your soul that the words "awe" and "beauty" just aren't great enough to describe it?  I think God's like that. 
Paulie

Welcome!
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Does God have emotions?
« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2008, 06:30:25 PM »
Hi, everyone.  I just recently joined this forum.  (My Godfather posted one of my questions ... about Rosh HaShona... thank you for your responses!)  But to get to the topic at hand, God and whether or not He has emotions...  I tend to believe that it's a mystery.  We just don't know.  I think there are a lot of things about God for which there simply aren't earthly words.  You know when you get a soaring feeling of awe and beauty so deep inside your soul that the words "awe" and "beauty" just aren't great enough to describe it?  I think God's like that. 
Paulie

A belated welcome from me, too! Great post.
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