Impassibility of God

Hello everyone. Enjoying the summer?

There is one thing that keeps me from becoming Catholic, I simply can’t understand the doctrine, that is is as you may have guessed “divine impassibility”.

If God is without emotions, how can He truly love us? I mean to say that love is nothing but a choice makes it sound kind of cold.

Let me play the devils advocate for a minute:
To spent an eternity with an emotionless statue (pardon my language) sounds kind of boring?

What am I missing?

Thanks man and sorry if I offended you. Just searching for the truth.

As far as I know divine impassibility is not any kind of official Catholic doctrine. Aquinas taught that God has no passions connected to bodily appetites because, well, He has no body. Either way the idea has been put forth by various Catholic thinkers but never made into dogma I believe.

You are anthropomorphising God, which is a mistaken.

For of all; passions establish potentiality in God, which would contradict the doctrine of Divine Simplicity (which is a dogma of the Church) and be incredibly problematic Philosophically. On the issue of love; unconditional love (agape) is so defined “the willing of the Good for others”. This statement actually carries a lot of metaphysical baggage but I’ll unpack what I believe to me the most important bit now.

“Good” in Scholastic metaphysics is an attributive property of Being. Therefore the willing of the Good is the willing of Being; also that as God is self-subsistent Being, God is self-subsistent Goodness as per the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity there is no composition in God. So in God willing the good for others, he is also willing himself to others. Which is properly called the act of unconditional love.

How is God without emotions?

God grieves (Gen 6:6); God is jealous/zealous (Ex 20:5); God becomes angry (Num 11:33); God becomes pleased (Num 24:1); God is love (1 John 4:8).

I wonder whether this idea of God’s impassibility might be a reference to God’s invulnerability.

Hello! Going well, how about yourself?

There is one thing that keeps me from becoming Catholic, I simply can’t understand the doctrine, that is is as you may have guessed “divine impassibility”.

If God is without emotions, how can He truly love us? I mean to say that love is nothing but a choice makes it sound kind of cold.

Would you please share the Catholic Doctrine on Impassibility? I cannot find it.

Based on the understanding of Divine Impassibility as: God does not experience pain or pleasure from the actions of another being.

I can perceive this as valid because God experiences pain and pleasure from the actions of His being, and not another being. All Love is in God: The Holy Trinity. The pain and pleasure of God comes from sharing communion with us into His being.

What am I missing?

Perhaps recognition of the communion of persons, who are each God or maybe God’s purpose for creation.

Thanks man and sorry if I offended you. Just searching for the truth.

No offense taken. I really enjoyed pondering your questions and impassibility! I look forward to more discussion!

God doesn’t have emotion, he IS emotion. That’s why we say God IS love (not God has love).

Dear Fellow Sons and Daughters of God – 17 July 2014
What I share with you here is truly new to me. And it opens other avenues of thought.

I have always known that the Second Divine Person, Jesus Christ, God, literally suffered in his human nature. It is new to me that “in a mysterious way” God the Father also suffers for and with us. Our understanding of God continues with the help of the Holy Spirit to grow into a greater fullness.

Please let me introduce first Fr Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap. “In 1980 he was appointed as preacher to the papal household by Pope [St] John II. He still serves in this capacity, preaching a weekly sermon during Advent and Lent in the presence of Pope [now Emeritus] Benedict XVI.” The following three paragraphs are from his sermons to the papal household, some now printed.

In the following three paragraphs he is concurring with and expresses recent Trinitarian work of Hans Urs von Balthasar. They read >
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“For him [von Balthasar] what happens at the cross is, in some way, a reflection of what happens within the Trinity itself since before time began.  In his act of generating the Son, the Father *dispossesses* himself totally of his divinity to give it to the Son in an absolute renunciation of being God by *himself*.  It is a ‘theo-drama,’ a divine drama that unfolds within the bosom of God himself;  the infinite movement of the divine persons giving themselves to one another implies a movement of separation, with the two entities maintained and transcended thanks to the [Holy] Spirit  The Holy Spirit, who is the love of God in a Person, is, consequently, also ‘the sorrow of God in a Person” and is thus present at the cross. 

“These new developments in trinitarian theology had a historical impetus.  How do we still speak of God after Auschwitz?  Where was God then?  The answer that was given from a rereading of the Bible and from certain voices buried in tradition [the writings of the early Fathers of the Church] was that God was with people in their suffering.  God is not unfeeling;  in a mysterious way he suffers for human beings and with them: ‘God the Father suffers the suffering of love.’

“The International Theological Commission pronounced a substantially positive judgment on this new direction, and, with all the required clarifications and cautions, it was favorably received by Pope [St] John Paul II in his encyclical *Dominum et vivificantem*.”
	**Contemplating the Trinity,** Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Capuchins, pp. 	27-28; Italian 2002, Eng 2007, The Word among Us Press, Ijamsville MD 21754

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I have shared this with you. I Bless you with God’s Love.
Please pray for me. JohnJFarren

Divine impassibility means that God is incapable of feeling suffering. What you are doing though is making a logical error to say that this means God is incapable of feeling anything. That is not what impassibility means. God is capable of feeling love, joy etc.

In fact Catholic teaching is that the souls in heaven are also impassible. They are incapable of feeling pain, suffering, but as you know are capable of joy and love, etc.

This impassibility is a direct result of God being perfect and unchanging so really is not very controversial.

And know we have to consider what emotions constitute suffering and which don’t. God appears to get angry in scripture. So that is not suffering - God is simply exercising his will. Suffering involves pain and hopelessness, etc.

@JohnJFarren
I recommend you this interesting article: firstthings.com/article/2001/11/does-god-suffer

Hello Khusraw – I thank you for the suggestion of a treatment concerning impassibility of God. BUT … in calling it up on the web I got the colorful heading and the message>

America’s most
influential
journal of
religion and
public life.

Uh oh.

Page not found.
////////////////////////// And so I cannot read the article. Bless you. JohnJFarren

It worked for me. Maybe try it again here.

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