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Luther on “Impassibility”

It is almost historical orthodoxy in some circles that Luther fundamentally revised the Medieval doctrine of God, particularly with respect to God’s “impassibility.” Luther, it is argued, anticipates Jurgen Moltmann’s claim that, in Christ, suffering enters into the divine nature itself. Significantly pushing back against this historiographical trend is a recent work by David Luy. This is important not only for historical purposes, but also for rhetorical purposes. The theme of the “static God” vs. “the God who dwells with us” is so preachable, but it is fortunately a false dichotomy. God is both actus purus and pro me and the latter, indeed, is founded upon the former. Our readers might also be interested to note Oxford’s recent Handbook of Martin Luther’s Theology – which looks to contain several important chapters on Luther’s doctrine of God as well as his relationship to the Medieval tradition.

By Joseph Minich

Joseph Minich lives in Texas with his wife (Rebecca) and four children (Samuel, Truman, Felix, and Ruby). He recently graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary (D.C. Campus) and is pursuing a Ph.D in intellectual history at the University of Texas at Dallas.