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1. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Craig J. Hazen Editor’s Introduction
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the doctrine of the trinity: a symposium on keith ward’s christ and the cosmos
2. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Chad Meister Rethinking the Trinity: On Being Orthodox and Au Courant
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There is a renaissance of interest in the doctrine of the Trinity. Keith Ward’s book, Christ and the Cosmos: A Reformulation of the Trinitarian Doctrine, is a recent and important work that attempts to reimagine the doctrine of the Trinity in a contemporary context. The following symposium engages with this important work and offers profitable discussion on the doctrine of the Trinity today. It includes an opening essay in which Professor Ward delineates his views, nine essays by leading philosophers and theologians responding to his work, and his replies to the respondents. This essay provides some background to the discussion.
3. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Keith Ward Reimagining the Trinity: On Not Three Gods
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If God is agape-love, this implies that God creates and relates to other personal beings, in giving to, receiving from, and uniting those beings to the divine in love. In this relationship, God is threefold—the primordial source of all (the Father), the expressive image of divine love (Jesus), and the unitive power which unites the cosmos to the divine (the Spirit). These are three different “forms of instantiation” (hypostases) of one divine mind (ousia), not three distinct consciousnesses (the “social Trinity”). The threefold mind of God is not “modalist,” but an essential and indissoluble form of the divine nature.
4. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Richard Swinburne Response to Keith Ward, Christ and the Cosmos
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Keith Ward understands the Trinity as “one conscious being” and the divine “persons” as three necessary modes of divine action. But he does not give a good reason for supposing that there must be just three modes of divine action. I argue that by contrast all the theories of the Trinity developed from the Nicene Creed by patristic and medieval writers, are “social” theories, or “three persons” theories (in a modern sense of “person”). I defend my a priori argument for the justification of a social theory—that three persons are the necessary minimum for the realization of perfect love, and (in the case of divine persons) the necessary maximum for this.
5. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Stephen T. Davis Comments on Keith Ward’s Christ and the Cosmos
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The present essay is a response to Keith Ward’s recent book, Christ and the Cosmos. While deeply appreciative of this fine book, I raise two criticisms of it: (1) Ward’s claim (in agreement with much of the tradition) that we can know nothing of the divine essence has disturbing implications, the main one of which is that there may be large disjunctions between what God has revealed to us about the divine nature and the divine nature in itself. (2) Ward’s criticisms of the social theory of the Trinity are not compelling and indeed edge his own view close to modalism.
6. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Thomas McCall Professor Ward and Polytheism
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Professor Ward has offered a bold alternative to traditional doctrines of the Trinity. I focus on his proposal for understanding the identity of Jesus Christ. I note some ambiguities and raise some concerns, and I show that his theology is not obviously free of the error that motivates his rejection of more traditional views.
7. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Katherin A. Rogers A Medieval Approach to Keith Ward’s Christ and the Cosmos: A Reformulation of Trinitarian Doctrine
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In Christ and the Cosmos Keith Ward hopes to “reformulate” the conciliar statements of the Trinity and Incarnation since they cannot serve our post-Enlightenment, scientific age. I dispute Ward’s motivation, noting that the differences in perspective to which he points may not be as radical as he supposes. And his “reformulation” has worrisome consequences. I am especially concerned at his point that Jesus, while very special and perfectly good, is only human. This undermines free will theodicy, and, much more troubling, makes global Christian practice for two millennia idolatry.
8. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
William Hasker A Cosmic Christ?
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Keith Ward advocates modifications in the doctrine of God similar to those affirmed by open theism. However, he rejects social Trinitarianism, in spite of his own recognition that the two views have often gone together. I argue that, beyond this, Ward really rejects the Trinitarian and Christological doctrines of the church, as expressed in the creeds of Nicaea and Chalcedon. The implications of this are explored; one implication is that Ward’s Christ is less “cosmic” than the traditional view he repudiates.
9. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Francis X. Clooney, SJ Christ and the Cosmos: A Reformulation of Trinitarian Doctrine: A Reflection
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In Christ and the Cosmos Keith Ward again rethinks Christian doctrines, so as to restore their intelligibility and relevance. Throughout, he commendably notes parallels in other traditions that have pondered the unity and complexity of the divine. But such references are invariably general and brief; little insight into theologies arising elsewhere is achieved. Even in a small book, mention without depth may imply that no premodern learning answers questions arising in and for the globalized West. But gently sidelining the concepts of premodern traditions risks also losing their transformative energies, making less likely the revitalizing of doctrines of God beyond and in the world.
10. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Thomas Jay Oord Can God Be Essentially Loving without Being Essentially Social?: An Affirmation of and Alternative for Keith Ward
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Keith Ward is right in Christ and the Cosmos that “the idea of God as a sort of society is a bad idea” (x). Christian theology would make better sense if Christians did not say God is comprised of three persons, each with distinct centers of consciousness, distinct relations, distinct wills, and so on. This formulation of the Trinity is more tritheistic than monotheistic. I argue that for a host of reasons, Christians should conceive of the Trinity as one God who instantiates in three forms. I also suggest Christians would be wise to say God is essentially loving and essentially related to creation.
11. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Dale Tuggy Some Objections to Ward’s Trinitarian Theology
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Keith Ward’s Christ and the Cosmos is a bold and creative attempt to solve real Trinitarian and Christological difficulties. I object that it is not, as advertised a “reformulation” of any prior Trinity doctrine, and that it contradicts the New Testament in denying the identity of Jesus with the Son, and in denying the identity of the Father with the one God.
12. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Jerome Gellman Ward’s Trinity and the Stubborn Jews
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My paper addresses the possibility of Jews and Christians becoming theologically closer than in the past, given Ward’s Trinity. I address the question of whether Ward’s version of the Trinity necessarily clashes with Jewish tradition. I contend that it does not so clash, especially because for Ward Jesus is only a contingent instantiation of the Word. A Jew could accept the purely logical implications of the Wardian Trinity. I then present a new Jewish theology of Jesus, one that is sympathetic to Jesus, but which denies his divinity. The result is a moving closer of Jewish and Christian theology.
13. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Keith Ward Responses to Essays on Christ and the Cosmos
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articles
14. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Alister E. McGrath The Rationality of Faith: How Does Christianity Make Sense of Things?
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This paper explores the “rationality” of the Christian faith, focusing on the capacity of the Christian “big picture” to colligate and coordinate personal experience and observations of the world. To illustrate this, C. S. Lewis’s famous “argument from desire” is framed within the parameters of two significant philosophies of explanation: C. S. Peirce’s abductive approach, and “inference to the best explanation” (Gilbert Harman; Peter Lipton). It is argued that the Christian faith offers a “metarationality,” which affirms the ultimate rationality of mysteries such as the doctrine of the Trinity while also accounting for the way we make sense of the everyday world.
15. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
David Hershenov, Adam P. Taylor Can Ordinary Materialists Be Autonomous?
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We argue that the secular cannot offer a materialist response to “The Problem of Too Many Thinkers” that makes autonomy possible. The materialist can accommodate what truths about respecting personal freedom and autonomy only by accepting a counterintuitive sparse ontology. Immaterial accounts of the person look good by comparison. However, those immaterialist theories that don’t posit a divinely created soul suffer from certain metaphysical puzzles avoided by those who do claim divine creation. A soul that requires divine creation strongly suggests that such immaterial beings were made for a purpose. Such purposeful creation makes theistic ethics seem far more plausible.
16. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Stephen E. Parrish Theism, Naturalism, and Worlds: The Puzzle and the Problem
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Theism and naturalism are rival worldviews. Both seek to explain the nature of reality, but often give radically different explanations. One of the most important areas of conflict is the differing accounts for the existence of the world in which we live. Why is the actual world the one that has been instantiated instead of any other of the apparently infinite number of other possible worlds? In this paper I argue that whereas theism has a puzzle as to why God actualized this particular world, naturalism has a major problem as why any ordered world exists.
17. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Tyler Dalton McNabb, Erik D. Baldwin Reformed Epistemology and the Pandora’s Box Objection
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Furthering our project of applying Plantinga’s epistemology to different world religions, we do a comparative study of Mormonism and Vaiśeṣika Hinduism and analyze whether they can utilize Plantinga’s epistemology in order to claim that their beliefs about God if true are probably warranted. Specifically, we argue that they cannot, as ultimately they are unable to account for the preconditions needed to make for an intelligible cognitive design plan, due to either affirming an infinite regress when it comes to the designers of our cognitive faculties or affirming an infinite number of cosmological cycles in which our faculties are formed.
philosophical notes
18. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Guillaume Bignon The Distasteful Conditional Analysis: On Compatibilism and the Not-so-Wretched Counterfactual Ability to Do Otherwise
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The principle of alternate possibilities states that a person cannot be morally responsible for what he has done, unless he had the “ability” to do otherwise. Incompatibilists typically add that determinism removes such ability, thereby excluding moral responsibility. In response, compatibilists have often affirmed something close, only interpreting the ability in question to be conditional, counterfactual, and hence compatible with determinism. This conditional analysis has been (loudly) criticized for being question-begging, unnecessary, and insufficient. This paper aims to refute these three objections, to uphold the coherence of the conditional analysis, along with (it is hoped) the integrity of its proponents.
19. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
William Lane Craig “Absolute Creation” and “Theistic Activism”: A Plea for Terminological Uniformity
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Morris and Menzel’s view that God is the Creator of abstract as well as concrete objects is variously referred to by the labels “absolute creation” and “theistic activism.” To use these labels synonymously, however, exhibits a lack of discrimination. Theistic activism is the project of grounding modality in God, particularly in the divine will. Absolute creationism is a nonmodal project which regards abstract objects as created by God. The synonymous use of these terms results in confusion in debates over divine aseity and sovereignty. Philosophical discussion will benefit if we adopt a uniform terminology discriminating between these different views.
20. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 18 > Issue: 2
Gary R. Habermas, Benjamin C. F. Shaw Agnostic Historical Jesus Scholars Decimate the Mythical Jesus Popularists: A Review Essay on Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?
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This review article examines the late agnostic New Testament scholar Maurice Casey’s criticisms of the so-called mythicist position, which argues that Jesus did not exist. Casey’s volume Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths? is viewed along with Bart Ehrman’s critique of similar ideas in his text Did Jesus Exist? We will highlight important objections raised by these agnostic scholars against those in the mythicist movement, including topics such as various idiosyncrasies leading to historically deficient methods, egregiously latedating the canonical Gospels, claiming inspiration from earlier mystery religions, and positing textual interpolations.