Can God Really Suffer?

I. Can God Create a Rock So Heavy He Can't Lift It?
Yes: By making himself weak.

II. "The Son of God ... Suffered Under Pontius Pilate"
Does the cross tell us what God is like? Or what God is not like?
The concept of divine impassibility:
Docetism: The Son only seemed to suffer.
Modalism and Theopaschitism: The Father suffered too.
Orthodoxy: The Son suffered, the Father sympathized.
But how? Only in the flesh (1 Pet 4:1)? Did the logos suffer? Two answers:

The cross tells us what God is 'not like':


The cross tells us what God is 'like':

III. Eastern Orthodoxy: Jesus Redeemed Suffering
Divine impassibility determines our view of the cross (Luke 23:26-49).
Jesus' humanity (and thus his person) suffered, but not his divinity.
Incarnation brings passibility to the Son.
On the cross, Jesus "impassibilized" suffering.
Conclusion: God's strength strengthens weak humanity.
Illustration: Saris Museum at Bardejov's icon of the crucifixion.
Problem: Is the cross revelatory? Is weakness contrary to God?
IV. Luther's Theology of the Cross
The cross determines our view of God's passibility (Mark 15:21-39).
The weakness of God (Heb 4:15, 5:2, 1 Cor 12:22, 1 Cor 1:18-31).
God is revealed in powerful weakness: Heidelberg Theses 19-24.
Incarnation is "God under a contrary form" (sub contrario).
Conclusion: God's weakness weakens "strong" humanity.
Illustration: Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece.

"Kenosis" (ekenosen, Phil. 2:5-11) in the early Church:
Jesus' voluntarily refrains from using his divine attributes.

"Kenosis" in Moltmann's The Crucified God:
Kenosis constitutes God's nature.
But then must God be crucified to be God?

"Kenosis" according to 19th century Tübingen theologians:
The logos limited himself in becoming incarnate.

"Kenosis" in Balthasar's Mysterium Paschale:
Kenosis freely expresses the Son's begottenness.

V. Common Ground?
Both? Charles Wesley's "And Can It Be": "He emptied himself of all but love."
Either way, the cross is "a revolution in our concept of God" (Moltmann).