"The prophets did not have a new idea of God, but rather understood themselves and the people of Israel in that God-situation which Heschel calls God's pathos. In pathos, the all-powerful God goes outside of himself and enters into a relationship with a people of his choosing. He places his complete interest in his covenant with his people. Hence he is affected by the experiences, actions, and suffering of Israel.
His pathos has nothing to do with the whims of the mythical gods. It is his free relationship to creation, to people, and to history. God takes man seriously to the point that he suffers from the actions of man and can be injured through them. The prophets did not identify God's pathos with his essence, but rather saw in pathos the form of his relationship to the world, of his involvement and concern.
Prophecy is therefore not the foretelling of the future, as determined by fate or by God's plan of salvation. It is rather an insight into the present pathos of God, in suffering at Israel's disobedience, and in passion for justice and honor in the world.
When Spinoza maintained that God neither loves nor scorns, he completely failed to recognize the pathos of God. God's wrath is nothing less than his wounded love and a pain which cuts to the heart. His wrath is therefore an expression of enduring interest in man. Only indifference would be a withdrawal of God from pathos for man....
....Through sympathy, man corresponds to the pathos of God. He does not come into an ahistorical unio mystica
, but rather into historical unio sympathetica
with God. He is angry with God's wrath. He loves with God's love. He suffers with God's suffering. He hopes with God's hope. In covenant with the God of pathos, man steps outside of himself, takes part in the life of others, and can rejoice and suffer with them. He is interested and concerned.
This sympathy is freedom, too. It is not a world-transcending freedom of the mind, but a life-awakening freedom of the heart, that is, of the whole man. It is not the freedom of rulers over nature and body, but the freedom of brothers in their solidarity."
Theology Today - Vol 31, No. 1 - April 1974 - ARTICLE - The Crucified God