Energetic kenosis as an approach to the problem of divine impassibility

Compton, James Loxley (2021). Energetic kenosis as an approach to the problem of divine impassibility. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Classical theism has long affirmed impassibility to be both a philosophically sound and scripturally warranted attribute of God. An affirmation of this attribute of divine apatheia is found in the works of theologians and philosophers of classical Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, over the last century, there has been a significant shift away from this tradition of divine impassibility. Divine impassibility has been challenged from many quarters, especially from Protestant Christianity, as a doctrine foreign to the scriptures of Abrahamic monotheism and philosophically incompatible with a scriptural conception of God as personal, reactive, and relational. Many of the critics of divine impassibility suggest that there is a dilemma for these monotheists: that God may be impassible and yet unable to engage in personal, pathic, or relational ways with creation as the scriptures of the Judaism, Christianity, and Islam suggest, or that God may indeed express some pathos and reactivity but may no longer be understood to be impassible. In this work, I argue that this dilemma is a false one and that a third way, or via media, is possible. In support of the proposal I offer, I provide a critical analysis of impassibilist and passibilist arguments on historical, philosophical, and theological grounds. I demonstrate that strong affirmations of either position (impassibilism and passibilism) are indeed untenable, and in their places I propose a model of divine interaction based on an energetic kenoticism. In the via media offered below, I argue that we may yet retain a robust notion of divine impassibility in the essence or ousia of God, while allowing for a fuller account of divine pathos, reactivity, and interaction with creation via the kenotic and self-limiting divine energies. In this way, we may retain many of the classical commitments regarding the nature of God and yet provide more room to speak to these scriptural accounts of God’s interaction in the cosmos.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Philosophy
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11144


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