God without Passions: a Reader by Samuel Renihan


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Listen to the Confessing Baptist interview on the book with Sam Renihan here. here

Listen to the Reformed Forum  interview on the book with Sam Renihan here. Ref Forum GwoP

Check out Sam’s other book on this issue, God without Passions: a Primer – A Practical and Pastoral Study on Divine Impassibility.


Subtitled a Reader, the primary purpose of the material presented in this book is to familiarize the reader with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English language sources pertinent to the doctrine of divine impassibility, particularly for those who confess with the Reformed confessions that God is “without body, parts, or passions.” If this material is studied carefully, the reader will encounter an excellent and diverse array of writings that touch on this subject.

230 pages
Published 2015

If you are interested in the doctrine of God, and especially in understanding how sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Reformed theologians argued for divine impassibility, this book is for you. Samuel Renihan has collected the words of sixty theologians from the Reformation and post-Reformation era in order to help readers understand the classical doctrine of divine impassibility which is sorely misunderstood in our day.

Foreword by Carl. R. Trueman. Endorsements by James Dolezal, Paul Helm, Michael Horton, David VanDrunen, and Sam Waldron.

Product endorsements

Samuel Renihan’s reader is a welcome contribution that sheds much light on precisely what our Reformed forebears intended by denying passions of God. These selections set forth impassibility in its proper theological context as an entailment of God’s simplicity, pure actuality, and immutability. The picture that emerges is not one of a distant and uncaring God, but of God as so absolutely perfect in being that he cannot be moved to any greater perfection of love, mercy, or hatred of sin. This volume should aid greatly in the rehabilitation of an informed confession of God without passions.

James E. Dolezal
Author of God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness

Samuel Renihan has brought together a first-rate collection of mainly Reformed and Particular Baptist thinking on the doctrine of God, particularly his impassibility, which goes back to the church Fathers. This aspect of God’s nature is much misunderstood and caricatured at present, such a God being thought to be withdrawn, apathetic, even psychotic. But these extracts show that the reverse is the case. Impassibility indicates the fullness of God’s care for his creation. For he is not subject to fits, or spasms, or moods, or passions.

Paul Helm
Emeritus Professor
University of London

It has been said, “We keep re-inventing the wheel and it’s never round.” Re-imagining, re-visioning, re-constructing our doctrine of God–away from the alleged ‘abstractions’ of rigorous exegetical, theological, and philosophical detail–has turned out usually to be little more than a more superficial version of errors from the past. Today, a growing number of evangelicals (even conservative ones) are jettisoning the notions of God’s impassibility and kindred attributes. However, their arguments are usually evidence that they haven’t wrestled sufficiently with the sources of classical theology. In one collection, God Without Passions helps us do our homework and, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “leaves us without excuse.”

Michael Horton
Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics
Westminster Seminary California

We talk about a great many subjects under the heading of “theology.” But when it comes down to it, theology is only theology because it reflects and speaks about God. Thus, misunderstanding who God is compromises the truth of theology from the start. In recent years many prominent Christians–from sophisticated philosophers and theologians to popular preachers–have suggested that God, like human beings, experiences time, suffers, and feels changing emotions. Perhaps, we think, there may be something to this. This reader, filled with the work of many of the greatest theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, offers an important reminder that these issues are not new. With care, learning, and insightful reflection on biblical texts, these theologians defend the classical Christian view that God is truly infinite, eternal, and unchanging–a God who cares intimately and affectionately for his people in the midst of their turbulent earthly pilgrimage, yet who always remains essentially other than his creatures. This volume provides a very welcome collection of Reformed riches on this perennially important matter.

David VanDrunen
Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics
Westminster Seminary California

Christian teaching and theology must be derived always from the Scriptures alone. The Scriptures are the sole authority for what Christians should believe and teach as Christians. But this does not mean that there is nothing else that a Christian should do before he presumes to teach and preach the Bible. Exegetical theology precedes systematic theology authoritatively, but in other ways so also does historical theology. Of course, it does not precede it authoritatively, but it does and must precede it in an advisory capacity and as a counselor. The HCSB translates Proverbs 26:16 as follows: “In his own eyes, a slacker is wiser than seven men who can answer sensibly.” Similarly, though God alone in his Word has authority over how a Christian should conduct himself, that same Christian does well to consult the seven wise men. He does foolishly when he does not. In our teaching and preaching also we must not be slackers, we must consult the wise men of historical theology. We also must not be historical snobs and take the really incredible position that our day is the wisest of all theologically. Really? Yes, we have advantages, but we also have incredible disadvantages. One of them is our modern tendency to historical snobbery.

For all these reasons, and especially in the difficult matter of the doctrine of God and divine impassibility, we are indebted to Sam Renihan for not being a slacker himself and giving us the massive work compiled in this book. He has given us the views of the “seven wise men” with regard to divine impassibility. We do well to pay close attention.

Sam Waldron
Dean of Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary
Pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Owensboro, KY

About the Author

Samuel Renihan (M.Div., Westminster Seminary California) is a pastor at Trinity Reformed Baptist Church, La Mirada, CA, and a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Amsterdam. He is author of God without Passions: a Primer – A Practical and Pastoral Study on Divine Impassibility.