English Summary – The Suffering of God 4/2012

Marie J. Pitterová OP
Suffering God?
The Old Testament Perspective of God’s “Suffering”
Can God suffer? The article treats the Old Testament statements about a suffering God, set in the context of suffering as such in the biblical sense. For the expression of God’s acting biblical author uses various metaphors from an environment familiar to him. Suffering in the biblical concept is always linked to sin. Statements about a suffering God are then, like the description of other emotions attributed to God, an expression of his relationship to people, culminating in the Incarnation of God’s Son.

David Vopřada
God’s Suffering in Origen
Origen defends Christian doctrine against the philosophical objection that God cannot suffer, and the issue of the suffering of the Incarnate Logos seems even to be an origin of Christological reflection of the teaching about the two natures of Christ. In Origen’s conception, God-Love who cannot suffer, freely offers mercy to people, and out of love he therefore somehow suffers. It isn’t possible to forget that when it concerns God, we ought to speak about suffering or passion in a completely different manner than how it corresponds with the human experience and language: for the believer nevertheless an access to the knowledge of such a mystery is opened in the Holy Spirit.

Gilles Emery OP
Unchangeability of the Loving God and Problems of Reflections on “God’s suffering”
The Dominican theologian discusses the topic of God’s suffering in a broad perspective, both in the context of Church’s history – especially in the teachings of the first ecumenical councils – and in the teaching of modern theologians and philosophers dealing with the topic of kenosis, such as Segej Bulgakov, Jacques Maritain, Jean Galot, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Jürgen Moltmann. The author complements and corrects their attitudes by the teachings of Thomas Aquinas on God’s immutability and the possibilities of his suffering. The theology of St. Thomas shows that Christ’s suffering can be understood in the light of Trinitarian faith without drawing it into the very Trinity.

Štěpán M. Filip OP
Deitas impassionabilis
God’s Impassibility according to the Church’s Magisterium
The treatise of the Dominican Štěpán M. Filip from Olomouc firstly pays attention – after initially emphasizing the certainty of the magisterial teaching of the Church – to heresies against God’s impassibility, namely against the patripassianism and theopaschism. Then the author gradually discusses the doctrine of the popes and ecumenical and particular councils on the impassibility of God according to the chronological order, i. e. from Christian antiquity to the bl. John Paul II. In the final part he tries to assign a theological mark to the Church teaching about God’s impassibility. The author comes to the conclusion that the thesis: “God is completely impassible” is a statement proximal to faith, which should be definitively held (sententia fidei proxima, definitive tenenda). The final section suggests that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should issue a declaration on the subject.

Face-to-Face Suffering I don’t Want to Give a Quick Answer
Interview with Albert-Peter Rethmann
The interview with the moral theologian A. P. Rethmann considers a question of God’s suffering in the context of “theology after Auschwitz”; it brings an interfaith perspective, and warns against avoiding the mystery of suffering too easily by means of pseudo-solidarity or superficial celebration of suffering as the path to God. The emphasis is put on the fact that the Christian response to the experience of suffering in the world is an effort to remove it.

Pierre Descouvemont
Does God Truly Suffer?
The author chooses in his contribution a view of a diocesan priest who deals with specific pastoral problems. His experience and practice were regarded when selecting his “apparent paradoxes of God”. Among them lies the fact that the God, infinitely blessed, shares our woes. This, for the human mind unimaginable situation doesn’t mean that God suffers. The author doesn’t try to offer a classical doctrine of God’s impassibility, he rather deals with concrete – let us say existential – attacks on the issue. He strives to understand what they are inspired by, and to show that God’s impassibility doesn’t mean any apathy or indifference to the world. He wants also to remind us that if God should really constitute the rock, which we lean our life upon, he must be fundamentally different from us. At the same time the author reveals a common problem of all harbingers messengers of God’s passibility, that their idea of God is too human.

Krzysztof Olaf Charamsa
Teaching of Saints on God’s Impassibility
The author in his study scrutinises the saints, who in their work or spiritual heritage directly or indirectly reflect on the question of God’s impassibility. In the examples of Benedict of Nursia, Bernard of Clairvaux, John of God, Francis de Sales, Ignatius of Loyola, Paul of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux and Elizabeth of Holy Trinity he shows that there is a deep relationship between God’s impassibility and the way to the constancy of love, which is obtained on the path to holiness.