Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Is divine unchangeability a great-making property?

Here are some fragments of a paper I have been thinking about lately

In this paper I will try to contribute to an ongoing discussion about how we conceptualise the divine nature. In classical theology God has among other related attributes said to have been essentially unchangeable (immutabilitas Dei). In modern theology the conceptual scheme has been reversed, God, it is said, is essentially essentially changeable. This most often not to be taken as a modest suggestion but a strong affirmative invocation for any theology proper today.

Now I will not try to do what takes book length of writing and arguing – to demonstrate how contemporary theology can re-reverse the conceptual scheme. Such a project is time craving and full of pitfalls. But as a part of such and argument, or maybe as a preamble to it, I want to ask the necessary question: “Is changeablitlty a great-making property for God?” This is not to ask the question: "whether God is unchangeable?" or even try to demonstrate that so is the case. I will be content with dealing with the minor instead of the major issue at hand.

I am well aware (at least) of some problems with this question for contemporary philosophical theology. It seems to me that some of the problems lie in the poor exchange between systematic and philosophical theology. (Not to mention biblical and historical theology and philosophical theology.) I believe the major objections against such a blessed exchange would be responded to in this paper, but there are some that I would like to mention explicit at the outset.

The way I have asked the question seems to presuppose (i) that God has a ‘nature’ and (ii) that it is sensible to talk about great-making properties. I believe these two items are problematic to contemporary theologians because they presuppose a more ancient (pre-modern) as well as a way of talking familiar to analytic philosophers. The later are, as is well known, not very highly esteemed among the ones who argue for divine mutability. At the surface this might seem a crude anachronistic way of reasoning and in the current discussion climate be thought of as having little or no appeal. There simply is a new set of theological sensibilities among modern theologians which have helped re-shape the old metaphysics in which it made sense to talk about an unchageable God. Let me therefore try to give a sketch of the kind of metaphysical outlook I am implicitly advocating here and why anyone today, no matter from what school, should try to adhere to.


Mange said...

Ok! Skriv garna mer!


mikael.rubenson said...

Instämmer. Ser fram emot fortsättningen...