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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Impassibility \Im*pas`si*bil"i*ty\, a. [L. impassibilitas: cf. F. impassibilit['e].] The quality or condition of being impassible; insusceptibility of injury from external things.


n. The state or condition of being impassible.


Impassibility (from Latinin-, "not", passibilis, "able to suffer, experience emotion") describes the theological doctrine that God does not experience pain or pleasure from the actions of another being. It has often been seen as a consequence of divine aseity, the idea that God is absolutely independent of any other being, i.e., in no way causally dependent. Being affected (literally made to have a certain emotion, affect) by the state or actions of another would seem to imply causal dependence.

Some theological systems portray God as a being expressive of many (or all) emotions. Other systems, mainly in Judaism and Islam, portray God as a being that does not experience suffering or any other emotion at all. However, in Christianity there is an ancient dispute about the impassibility of God (see Nestorianism). Still, it is understood in all Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, that God is not subject to temptation or sin at all, since sin is defined as rebellion against God's loving authority and holiness. Or one could see sin as rebellion to God's will in general, and while it is conceivable that an ordinary being could "rebel" against his own better wishes, God arguably cannot since he is all-powerful and all-wise and is therefore compelled by his own nature to follow his best wishes.

Usage examples of "impassibility".

Thirdly, this was suitable, lest men might seek to be baptized for the sake of impassibility in the present life, and not for the sake of the glory of life eternal.