Religious disagreement – the existence of inconsistent religious views – is familiar and widespread. Among the most fundamental issues of such disagreement is whether to characterise the divine as personal or non-personal. On most other religious issues, the diverse views seem to presuppose some view on the personal/non-personal issue. In this essay, I address a particular question arising from disagreement over this issue. Let an exclusivist belief be a belief that a doctrine d on an issue is true, and that (...) doctrines on the issue that differ from d are false. Assume that for at least some people, there is no epistemic reason to prefer any one exclusivist view on the personal/non-personal question. This might be because disagreements act as defeaters for disputants’ beliefs, or because someone comes at the question without already holding a belief on the matter, and finds each view equally plausible. In these circumstances, is it still possible to engage with particular traditions in a realist, truth-seeking way? I answer that it is, arguing for a new pluralist approach to the personal/non-personal issue. By ‘pluralist’, I mean an approach that reinterprets a doctrine d on a given issue to be consistent with doctrines on the issue that differ from d. I start with probably the best-known pluralist account of religion, that of John Hick. After presenting his account I identify a problem that it faces which any pluralist account must address, one that has clear relevance to the personal/non-personal question. I then draw on Thomas Merton to outline an alternative pluralist route, illustrating how such an approach can apply to Christian and Buddhist ideas of an ultimate spiritual goal. The personal/non-personal issue is a good test for the approach I develop: because of the issue’s fundamentality, if the approach succeeds here then the prospects look bright for applying it to other topics of religious disagreement. (shrink)
There is no single Jewish philosophical conception of God, and the array of competing conceptions does not lend itself to easy systemization. Nonetheless, it is the aim of this chapter to provide an overview of this unruly theological terrain. It does this by setting out ‘maps’ of the range of positions which Jewish philosophers have taken regarding key aspects of the God-idea. These conceptual maps will cover: (i) how Jewish philosophers have thought of the role and status of conceiving of (...) God in the first place; (ii) what Jewish philosophers have understood to be definitive of God or Divinity; (iii) Jewish philosophical conceptions of God’s oneness; (iv) Jewish philosophical conceptions of God’s transcendence or immanence; (v) Jewish philosophical conceptions of God’s personhood or lack thereof; (vi) Jewish philosophical understandings of why God created (or caused) a world; and (vii) Jewish philosophical understandings of God’s relationship to the Jewish people. Jointly, these seven conceptual maps outline the broad range of vying conceptions of God that have been held by Jewish philosophers over the centuries, while also enabling the reader a bird’s-eye-view of how these multiple conceptions relate to one another. The chapter concludes by touching on what Jewish philosophers have made of this immense diversity of theological conceptions included within the tradition. (shrink)
David Bentley Hart and Jordan Daniel Wood are part of a movement aiming to overcome any separation between divine and human nature, avoiding what they see as a problematic account of grace. As opposed to radical kenoticism which holds that God only exists or has a given character in relation to creation, Hart and Wood appeal to facts about God such that He could not act otherwise towards human beings, given His character. They thereby ground conclusions that God could not (...) fail to create and that human beings could not be otherwise than divinized. Even though they differ on what it is in virtue of the fact that God could not act otherwise, both authors rest their views on such claims. I will argue such views involve serious theological and metaphysical problems, because this strategy entails – as much as radical kenoticism – that God is constituted by His relation to creation. (shrink)
This Element focuses on some core conceptual and ontological issues related to pantheistic conceptions of God by engaging with recent work in analytic philosophy of religion on this topic. The conceptual and ontological commitments of pantheism are contrasted with those of other conceptions of God. The concept of God assumed by pantheism is clarified and the question about what type of unity the universe must exhibit in order to be identical with God receives the most attention. It is argued that (...) the sort of unity the universe must display is the sort of unity characteristic of conscious cognitive systems. Some alternative ontological frameworks for grounding such cognitive unity are considered. Further, the question of whether God can be understood as personal on pantheism is explored. (shrink)
This book is the first systematic treatment of the strengths and limitations of personal and a-personal conceptions of the divine. It features contributions from Jewish, Islamic, Chinese, Indian and naturalistic backgrounds in addition to those working within a decidedly Christian framework. This book discusses whether the concept of God in classical theism is coherent at all and whether the traditional understanding of some of the divine attributes need to be modified. The contributors explore what the proposed spiritual and practical merits (...) and demerits of personal and a-personal conceptions of God might be. Additionally, their diverse perspectives reflect a broader trend within the analytic philosophy of religion to incorporate various non-Western religious traditions. Tackling these issues carefully is needed to do justice to the strengths and limitations of personal and a-personal accounts to the divine. The Divine Nature: Personal and A-Personal Perspectives will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in philosophy of religion and philosophical theology. (shrink)
This article examines the relationship between science and theology within a critical realist framework. Focusing on the role of metaphysics as a unifying starting point, especially in consideration of theological issues that are concerned with corporeality and temporality (such as in the incarnation). Some metaphysical challenges that lead to the appearance of “paradox” in the incarnation are highlighted, and the implications of two forms of holistic scientific ontology on the appearance of a paradox in the incarnation are explored. It is (...) concluded that ultimately both science and theology are concerned with the nature of reality, and the search for coherent models that can describe the unseen. Whilst one should maintain a criticality to any realist conception of theological and scientific theories, a shared metaphysics ensures theological doctrine can continue to be interpreted with relevance in a world in which scientific thought is increasingly stretching into the meta-scientific. (shrink)
The present text sets out to determine the relationships between the concepts of despair and selfhood in Søren Kierkegaard's Sikness unto Death. For this, a hermeneutic, as exhaustive as possible, is applied to the discernment of the concept itself, to later relate it to what the Danish calls despair. After clarifying the relationship between both concepts, examples of the desperate Kierkegaardian man abound in order to verify the irremediable discordance between the constituent elements of the self-given, his unresolved relationship with (...) God. (shrink)
This volume offers an original perspective on divine providence by examining philosophical, psychological, and theological perspectives on human providence as exhibited in virtuous human behaviours. Divine providence is one of the most pressing issues in analytic theology and philosophy of religion today, especially in view of scientific evidence for a natural world full of indeterminacies and contingencies. Therefore, we need new ways to understand and explain the relations of divine providence and creaturely action. -/- The volume is structured dynamically, going (...) from chapters on human providence to those on divine providence, and back. Drawing on insights from virtue ethics, psychology and cognitive science, the philosophy of providence in the face of contingent events, and the theology of grace, each chapter contributes to an original overall perspective: that human providential action is a resource suited specifically to personal action and hence related to the purported providential action of a personal God. -/- By putting forward a fresh take on divine providence, this book enters new territory on an age-old issue. It will therefore be of great interest to scholars of theology and philosophy. (shrink)
Most theists accept an anthropomorphic view of the divine: a God whose cognition and incarnate embodiment closely resembles human cognition and human embodiment. Most theists also accept an Anselmian view of God on which God has the maximal set of ontological (including moral) perfections. This chapter defends the view that Anselmianism entails that the anthropomorphic view of God is false and that some nonhuman animal is divine. Two arguments are given for this position, which we can call zootheism. The first (...) argument, the Power Argument, claims that because nonhuman animals have moral interests, maximal fairness entails a share in power over those interests. This, in turn, entails a direct share of power within the Godhead, which entails that some nonhuman animal is divine. The second argument, the Incarnation Argument, hues closely to Christian arguments for an incarnation: because God loves us, God will share in our suffering and will pursue non-privileged kinds of incarnate embodiments. This naturally motivates incarnating as a nonhuman animal, particularly given the historically privileged status of humans. Moreover, maximal fairness and maximal love entail that God also pre-existed as a nonhuman animal. Thus, God is, and always was, a nonhuman animal. (shrink)
In the following paragraphs, I will describe ten strategies through which we can show the weaknesses of every form of theism based on the "One God", while postulating that the Trinity is a good solution. This approach follows up on Swinburne’s claims about the existence of a priori and a posteriori proofs for the existence of the Trinity (his proofs are part of the sixth strategy). Clearly, these strategies are not “new”: they have been advocated by many thinkers in the (...) past and in the present. I merely revived them, and brought them together in a kind of cumulative reasoning: the strength of them arises when these strategies are considered together, showing that the Trinity is a reasonable hypothesis even though it is contradictory. The proposed strategies lead to the conclusion that there must exist in God something similar to what we call ‘real relations’ and ‘multiplicity’; and in order for God to be relational, there must exist in Him some “distincts” that relate to one another. This is postulated by philosophical reasoning, not just by Revelation, and regardless of the choice to support a process metaphysics. As Trinitarian theology contains the mystery of eternal generation, the strategies do account for the fact that in philosophy we contemplate the mystery of eternal self-distinction and of all the other ‘self-actions’ of the One. The eternal generation remains mysterious, but it is the idea that best helps us describe how God is (One and Triune) and how he creates the world. God must be Triune in every theistic system. The One God is, as One, also Triune. The Unity-Trinity of the Principle is the only apophatic point that we can reach from many quarters. Once autonomous paths of reason have established that God is a Person and Persons, One-Multiple, Creator (communicated), Free, Relational and Infinite possibility, it therefore emerges that our most reliable hypothesis is that of the Trinitarian God. (shrink)
Within contemporary philosophy of religion there are three main ways in which God is conceptualised in relation to personhood:God is a person and so personal. God is non-personal, and so is not a person. God is a personal non-person. The first two of these options will be familiar to many, with held by most contemporary monotheist philosophers of religion and mainly by those who are pantheists., however, is a view some may not have come across, despite its proponents claiming it (...) was the view of great philosophical theologians from the past. However, within recent times has become more popular. On the face of it, it might not be clear what the difference between and is, and whether debate had between the two positions is substantive. The goal of this paper is therefore to clarify the debate and assess whether the many claims advocates of make as to why God cannot be a person stand up to scrutiny or are persuasive. My suggestion will be that on the whole they do and are not. As such, defenders of will either need to defend these reasons in more detail or focus on the area I suggest the debate really rests on. (shrink)
This chapter is about personhood in relation to ethics and to conciliar Christian theology, and how concepts of personhood may discriminate against profoundly cognitively disabled human beings. (By ‘conciliar Christian theology’ I mean the Christian theology that is articulated in, or endorsed by, the first seven ecumenical councils.) -/- I believe we can learn several things about personhood by looking at these two topics together. By examining ancient and medieval concepts of personhood and some modern conceptions of personhood we gain (...) a better grasp of the variety of concepts and what substantive work they were intended to do. By becoming familiar with (part of) the history of concepts of personhood we are better situated to appreciate and judge the theoretical work that these concepts were intended to do and what consequences they have in ethical and theological theorizing. -/- In the first section I tell a select history of moral philosophers theorizing about personhood and discuss these in relation to human beings with profound cognitive disability. I focus on John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and Mary Anne Warren. In the “When Personhood Is Discriminatory” section I argue that concepts of personhood, especially modern concepts of personhood, are typically used in a manner that discriminates against human beings with profound cognitive disabilities. I give two arguments against discriminatory uses of personhood, the Moral Shift Argument and the Argument against Exclusive Personhood. Although the Moral Shift Argument is deductively valid, it probably has little persuasive power over those who do not share the moral belief that profoundly cognitively disabled human beings are equal members of the moral community. However, the Argument against Exclusive Personhood has more argumentative force because it denies the claims that personhood is “self-evident” and that it is “obvious” to everyone. In the following section I survey a select history of concepts of personhood in order to establish the claims that concepts of personhood are not self-evident and are not obvious to everyone. This history of personhood goes back to ancient and medieval Christian theorizing and debating about personhood. It shows that concepts of personhood are not “self-evident” but rather are theoretical posits that are posited in theory construction in order to explain certain putative theological facts. Given that personhood is a theoretical posit and is not “self-evident,” moral philosophers who aim to determine the extent of the moral community on the basis of a supposedly “self-evident” concept of personhood are not justified in doing so. Moreover, given the Argument against Exclusive Personhood, philosophical theologians who wish to articulate models of the Trinity or Incarnation that are consistent with the seven ecumenical councils will find that they, like moral philosophers, are not justified to assume, or to insist on, modern personhood for their models of the Trinity or Incarnation. My overall conclusion, then, is that modern personhood is bad for ethics and unnecessary for conciliar ecumenical Christian theology. (shrink)
Heidegger’s famous critique of the onto-theo-logy accuses the whole Western metaphysics of having led us to a “forgetfulness of being”. The following pages pay attention to two attempts to respond to this attack: Marion’s, who prefers, with Heidegger, to liberate God from the realms of being; Gilson’s, who attributed to Thomas Aquinas a natural theology in a certain discontinuity with classical metaphysics. Secondly, this article intends to propose a clearer continuity between the Christian concept of God and Aristotelian ontology in (...) particular, which is itself open. (shrink)
Purpose of the article is to study the Western worldview as a framework of beliefs in probable supernatural encroachment into the objective reality. Methodology underpins the idea that every cultural-historical community envisions the reality principles according to the beliefs inherent to it which accounts for the formation of the unique “universes of meanings”. The space of history acquires the Non-Euclidean properties that determine the specific cultural attitudes as well as part and parcel mythology of the corresponding communities. Novelty consists in (...) the approach to the miracle as a psychological need in a religious authority, expressed through the religious and non-religious (scientific) worldviews, which are interconnected by invariant thinking patterns deeply inside. It has been proven that the full-fledged existence of the religion is impossible without a miraculous constituent. It has been illustrated that the development of society causes a transformation of beliefs in gods and in miracles they do. The theological origins of the scientific beliefs stating the importance and regularity of the natural processes have been outlined. Conclusions: religion suggests emotional involvement and reasoning which is realized by means of a miracle. The modern science reproduces the theological concept of the permanence of God and His will at own level. Through the history of humankind not only the nature of miracle (whereof the common tendency belongs to the daily reality expansion) underwent changes but also its suggested subject (wherein abstraction is in trend). (shrink)
John Henry Newman's theory of heresiology evolved over the course of his life, accentuating certain Christological characteristics of heresy. He began with the study of the Arian heresy, progressing through the Sabellian and Apolloniarian, and ending with the Monophysite. The theory of heresy and orthodoxy finally developed in the Development of Doctrine reflects this struggle to find common features of orthodoxy corresponding to principles governing Christology in the early Church Fathers. As a consequence, Newman's heresiology, in its final stage, holds (...) that faith is inherently Christological, as it depends on the doctrine of the Incarnation to secure the authority of the divine voice of Christ to which one submits in faith. (shrink)
My paper highlights one Personalist aspect of St. Anselm's Platonic perspective, namely the ontological priority and interpenetration of persons. The paper first discusses Anselm's metaphysical Platonism, then charts the Anselmian path towards God, through participation in the divine attributes. It then focuses on images of persons, and their degree of being. I argue that, at least for certain human relationships marked by strong love or friendship, Anselm regards the image of the person as mediating the being of the person imaged.
A review of two books on the writings of Madhvācārya, the first thinker of Dvaitavedānta, by the late Roque Mesquita. One is a richly annotated translation with commentary of one of Madhva’s main works, the Viṣṇutattvanirṇaya; the other deals with the centuries-old question of the ‘fictive’ quotations from apparently non-existent texts which Madhva uses in support of his innovative ideas.
This article contains a brief critique of von Kutschera's conception of God, especially of the conceptual tension between divine transcendence and divine personhood, and of his response to the problem of evil.
The topic of the Christian Trinity and its correlation with the omni-qualities of God has been explored by numerous theologians throughout history. Advocates of the Trinity and deductive methodology commence with the claim that each member of the Trinity is entirely divine, thereby possessing all attributes of God. The anti-trinatarians on the other hand point to biblical evidence that implies the members of the Trinity lack certain omni-qualities and subsequently deduce that the Trinity is not divine. The middle ground of (...) these opposing viewpoints likely exists in accepting the divinity of the Trinity whilst rejecting the idea that the members of the Trinity necessarily possess all the omni-qualities. However, this perspective is subject to criticism from both factions in the contemporary theological landscape. In this paper, I shall explore a model of the Trinity that fits within this middle ground. In doing so, I shall explore the possibility that the Trinity has a one-to-one correspondence with the three major omni-qualities commonly ascribed to the God of Classical theism. To do so, we shall use both a deductive approach and the evidence from the scripture. The truth of the assertion that only the Father is omniscient and only the Holy Spirit is omnipresent is presented using specific Bible verses that point to the exclusivity of the quality in the respective members. The truth of the assertion that only the Son is omnipotent is obtained by a deductive approach. (shrink)