God IS Relational!

August 18th, 2017 / 3 Comments

It’s obvious to me that God relates with creation. It will come as a surprise to some, however, to hear that many Christians in the past and present DON’T think God relates with creation!

By “relate,” I mean God influences creatures and creatures influence God. God is passible, to use the ancient language; God is relational, to use the contemporary term. God is affected, is vulnerable, suffers, is influenced, receives, or responds to creation.

God is the “most moved mover,” to use Abraham Heschel and Clark Pinnock’s description of divine passibility.

I’m not the only person to whom it seems obvious that God relates with creatures. The vast majority of Christians I know today think God gives and receives in relationship with created others. Most think we creatures act in ways that please or bless God, which implies that we affect God. We can also anger or sadden God.

Christians aren’t the only ones who think this way. Most of my Jewish and Muslim friends think God is passible, although they rarely use that word.

And yet major theologians like Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, and more DENY that God is relational. What seems obviously true to me is not true at all to them.

Sometimes, of course, what seems obviously true to me turns out false. I once thought God has a body shaped like mine, except bigger. I now have reasons to think God is a universal Spirit without a localized divine body.

Is what seems to us obviously true about God being relational really true?

In my new blog series, I will explore and defend strong divine passibility or what I typically call God’s “essential relatedness.” I will argue that what seems to us true about God being affected by creatures is likely true. In fact, we have good reasons to believe divine passibility tells us something true about God’s essence.

For a host of reasons, I think it makes most sense to believe God is essentially relational.

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Your view about this matter strikes me as intuitively true.

Bev Mitchell

I’m looking forward to this series on God’s relational nature. Of course, just as with kenosis and love, your task would be easier if you dropped the ‘essential’. However, that would essentially destroy your argument. It’s sort of like dropping some aspect of Christ’s humanness and still arguing that you believe in the Incarnation. God is what and who he is, and we get off on the wrong foot whenever we deny any part of his being.


Hoy me queda más claro de que la razón por qué por siglos no lo vimos así es porque no entendemos a Dios como un ser Trino y personal.
Today it becomes clear to me that the reason why we have not seen it for centuries is because we do not understand God as a triune and personal being.

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