The Apathetic God

*Winner of the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise 

This work seeks to create a via media between the tradition of divine impassibility and the contemporary preference for divine possibility within formal theological reflection. Rather than dismissing divine impassibility as a Hellenized and antiquated notion, the author seeks to reconfigure how this axiom functioned for the early church as a way to complement and deepen the present tendency toward divine possibility. At stake in these discussions is not only the coherence of God-talk across time but also what Christians take to be their guiding vision of God’s character and action in the world, a vision that inevitably determines the shape of Christian discipleship.

 “Castelo seeks to craft a via media between the supporters and detractors of divine impassibility by reconfiguring it as God’s character in action rather than a static attribute. Impassibility can do genuine theological work precisely because it dramatically reveals that the source of divine activity always remains the triune life. Castelo moves from the biblical text to the tradition of the early church and contemporary theologians in a rich discussion that genuinely advances the dialogue. I warmly recommend this book.”

-Dale M. Coulter, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, School of Divinity, Regent University

“A constructive theology of the divine apatheia? Such might seem to be inconsistent with the dominant accent of Christian theology today on divine suffering and vulnerability, but Daniel Castelo begs to differ. Rather than define apatheia as ‘apathy,’ as is commonly done, Castelo understands the term to point to the divine transcendence that explains the victory of the resurrection. Apatheia is then used creatively to support a vision of divine suffering as voluntary and redemptive in nature. Most intriguing is his vision of the Spirit-filled life as a participation in Christ’s voluntary suffering for the other. I highly recommend this book to scholar and pastor alike. Once you start it, you won’t be able to put it down.”

Frank D. Macchia, Professor of Systematic Theology, Vanguard University of Southern California

 “The doctrine of God’s apatheia may be one of the most misunderstood and wrongly castigated doctrines among contemporary theologians. Theology needs some sober reflection upon it. Castelo charts well why we have so misunderstood the doctrine and then draws on biblical and patristic sources to help counter modern misunderstandings. All this is an important contribution in itself, but what makes this work truly significant is the final chapter where he shows why impassibility matters for a robust pneumatology that leads to faithful Christian discipleship. Far from producing a static, supposedly Hellenized deity, Castelo convincingly argues that the doctrine of impassibility is necessary for God’s action in the world and our participation in it. This is an important work.”

– D. Stephen Long, Professor of Systematic Theology, Marquette University


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