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Theopaschism is the belief that a god can suffer. In Christian theology this involves questions such as "was the crucifixion of Jesus a crucifixion of God?" The question is central to the schism between those churches which accepted the First Council of Ephesus and the Assyrian Church of the East. While not Nestorian,[1] the Assyrian Church of the East, along with their greatest teacher, Babai the Great, deny the possibility of a suffering God.

Some theologians of the Byzantine period also held similar views, although they were never held to be very orthodox. Classical Augustinian theology, on the contrary, maintains that the man Jesus suffered to a much greater extent, in order to avoid charges of modalism and patripassianism.[citation needed]

A number of modern philosophers and theologians have been called theopaschists, such as G. W. F. Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche and Simone Weil. Kitamori's Theology of the Pain of God (1946)[2] and Moltmann's The Crucified God (1971)[3] are two 1900s books that have taken up the ancient theological idea that at least unus de Trinitate passus est.[4] In the words of Hans Urs von Balthasar: "At this point, where the subject undergoing the 'hour' is the Son speaking with the Father, the controversial 'Theopaschist formula' has its proper place: 'One of the Trinity has suffered.' The formula can already be found in Gregory Nazianzen: 'We needed a ... crucified God'."[5]

Some proponents of liberation theology have extended the theopaschist debate to the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, questioning whether the Spirit may or may not have felt pain during the incarnation.[citation needed] This debate has had implications in ecclesiology, per Leonardo Boff's Church: Charism and Power.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brock, Sebastian P. (2006), Fire from Heaven: Studies in Syriac Theology And Liturgy, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 9780754659082
  2. ^ Kitamori, Kazoh (2005). Theology of the Pain of God. Translated by Graham Harrison from the Japanese Kami no itami no shingaku, revised edition 1958, first edition 1946. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock. ISBN 1-59752256-2. ISBN 978-1-597-52256-4.
  3. ^ Moltmann, Jürgen (2015). The Crucified God. Translated by R. A. Wilson and John Bowden from the German Der gekreuzigte Gott, 1971. London: SCM Press. ISBN 0-33405330-7. ISBN 978-0-334-05330-9.
  4. ^ (in Latin) DS 401 (Pope John II, letter Olim quidem addressed to the senators of Constantinople, March 534).
  5. ^ Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1992). Theo-drama. Theological Dramatic Theory. Vol. 3: Dramatis Personae: Persons in Christ. Translated by Graham Harrison from the German Theodramatik: Teil 2. Die Personen des Spiels : Die Personen in Christus, 1973. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. ISBN 1-68149577-5. ISBN 978-1-681-49577-4. Quote.