The Father Co-Suffered with the Son: A Case for Divine Impassibility in Patripassianism

Patripassians’ notion that the Father and Son are one person in the late second and early third centuries is markedly different from the contemporary proponents for divine passibility who argue from a trinitarian presupposition. However, Praxeas and Castillas, who granted some distinctions between the two, held a nuanced view that the Father co-suffered with the Son to avoid blasphemy, to which Hippolytus and Tertullian agreed. I will argue that despite a severe contention among the two opposing groups, Hippolytus and Tertullian’s agreement with their heretic opponents, Praxeas and Castillus, that it would be blasphemous to say that the Father suffered without qualifying suggests both the groups’ regard for the Father’s impassibility; hence, for Praxeas and Castillus, the Father co-suffered with the Son. Herein lies a case for divine impassibility.

To support this view, I will discuss some scholarly suggestions about Patripassianism by consulting Against Noetus, Against Praxeas, and Refutation of all Heresies to provide a basis for asking if the Father can suffer by treating them as two persons of the Trinity. Further, I will gather insights from Thomas Weinandy’s account of impassibility in patristics and Paul Gavrilyuk’s treatment of anthropopathic passages in the Bible. Specifically, we will look at Cyril of Alexandria’s paradoxical view of the Son and Thomas Aquinas’ communication of attributes and theory of relations.

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