Foundations of Modern Passibilism and the Problem of Its Compatibility with the Antique Philosophical TheologyStreltsov Alexey
This article deals with various historical treatments of the problem of impassibility or passibility of God. The author demonstrates connection of passibilism as the view admitting divine suffering with the sociocultural context of modernity, and also points out different attitudes throughout history to whatever is considered to be worthy of God. Standard concept of ancient philosophical theology held absolute impassibility of God. While Christian thought of Late Antiquity likewise considered God to be impassible, it did not exclude discourse of the suffering of God the Son. This opinion transpired throughout medieval period as well as Reformation, although Luther’s theology of the cross made an emphasis on divine revelation in the suffering of Christ. It was the dialectical approach of Hegel’s philosophy of religion that laid foundation for the option of theological passibilism. Such views came into being in the late 19th – early 20th century in Germany, England, and Russia. N. Berdyaev especially made an influence on subsequent thought. Among principal reasons for the passibilist development one can name popular view of uncritical reception of ancient Greek philosophy by the early Christian thought, process theology, apologetic need in new approaches to theodicy in view of global cataclysms of the 20th century that caused massive suffering of people, and, finally, democratization of political life as compared to absolutist monarchies of old. The author observes peculiar approaches in contexts of Japan, Korea, and African continent. While modern passibilism holds that only the concept of the suffering God is capable of alleviating human suffering, representatives of the classical Christian framework tended to find consolation rather God’s impassibility. Considering shift in view on impassibility of God as an integral part of historical-philosophical development, the author highlights possible incompatibility of the frameworks of Antiquity and modernity and does not find grounds for critique of the concept of Antiquity from the perspective of modern metaphysical sensitivities.