Paradox in Christian Theology: An Analysis of Its Presence, Character, and Epistemic Status

Overview

Does traditional Christianity involve paradoxical doctrines, that is, doctrines that present the appearance (at least) of logical inconsistency? If so, what is the nature of these paradoxes and why do they arise? What is the relationship between "paradox" and "mystery" in theological theorizing? And what are the implications for the rationality, or otherwise, of orthodox Christian beliefs? In Paradox in Christian Theology, James Anderson argues that the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation, as derived ...

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Overview

Does traditional Christianity involve paradoxical doctrines, that is, doctrines that present the appearance (at least) of logical inconsistency? If so, what is the nature of these paradoxes and why do they arise? What is the relationship between "paradox" and "mystery" in theological theorizing? And what are the implications for the rationality, or otherwise, of orthodox Christian beliefs? In Paradox in Christian Theology, James Anderson argues that the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation, as derived from Scripture and formulated in the ecumenical creeds, are indeed paradoxical. But this conclusion, he contends, need not imply that Christians who believe these doctrines are irrational in doing so. In support of this claim, Anderson develops and defends a model of understanding paradoxical Christian doctrines according to which the presence of such doctrines is unsurprising and adherence to paradoxical doctrines cannot be considered as a serious intellectual obstacle to belief in Christianity. The case presented in this book has significant implications for the practice of systematic theology, biblical exegesis, and Christian apologetics.

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Meet the Author

James Anderson holds PhDs in computer simulation and philosophical theology from the University of Edinburgh. He is currently employed by the University as a Research Fellow.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements     xiii
Abbreviations     xv
Introduction: The Problem of Paradox     1
Paradox in Christian Theology     1
Paradox Defined     5
Outline of the Book     6
The Presence of Paradox     9
The Paradox of the Trinity     11
Introduction     11
Early Trinitarianism     13
The Road to Nicea     13
The Nicene Settlement     16
The Post-Nicene Fathers     21
Recent Trinitarianism     31
Modalistic Interpretations     32
Social Trinitarian Interpretations     36
Relative Identity Interpretations     47
Concessions to Paradox     54
Conclusion     58
The Paradox of the Incarnation     61
Introduction     61
Early Christology     63
The Road to Chalcedon     63
The Chalcedonian Settlement     68
Post-Chalcedonian Developments     77
Recent Christology     80
Kenotic Interpretations     81
Dual-Psychology Interpretations     90
Concessions to Paradox     101
Conclusion     105
Responding to Paradox     107
Introduction     107
Theological Anti-Realism     111
Anti-Deductivism     114
Dialetheism     117
Doctrinal Revisionism     126
Semantic Minimalism     131
Complementarity     137
Conclusion     152
The Propriety of Paradox     153
Warranted Christian Doctrines     155
Introduction     155
What is Warrant?     158
Warranted Belief     159
Internalism and Externalism     160
Coherentism and Foundationalism     164
Reliabilism and Proper Function     167
Warranted Theistic Belief     172
Warranted Christian Belief     177
Revelation, Scripture, and Doctrine     189
Four Perspectives on Christian Doctrine     192
Evaluating the Four Perspectives     196
Warranted Christian Doctrine     199
Epistemic Defeaters     209
A Model for the Rational Affirmation of Paradoxical Theology     217
Introduction     217
The Character of Paradox     220
Apparent Contradiction     220
Equivocation: Unarticulated and Articulated     225
Paradox and the Doctrine of Analogy     233
The Origin of Paradox     237
The Doctrine of Divine Incomprehensibility     237
Divine Incomprehensibility and Paradox     241
The Rationality of Paradox     244
Mystery Defined     244
Defeaters Revisited: Defeater-Defeaters and Defeater-Insulators     246
Mystery as Defeater-Defeater and Defeater-Insulator     250
Warranted Belief in Paradoxical Christian Doctrines     256
Conclusion     262
The Model Defended     263
Introduction     263
Biblical Concerns     267
The Fount of Doctrinal Paradox: Creeds or Scripture?     267
Logic as a Hermeneutical Tool     271
Paradox as Defeater for Biblical Inspiration     273
Theological Concerns     275
The Practice of Systematic Theology     275
Defining Orthodoxy and Excluding Heterodoxy     278
Alternative Cognitive Design Plans     281
The Apologetic Mirror Problem     283
Philosophical Concerns     285
Contradictions: Real and Apparent     285
Consistency as Intellectual Virtue      288
Alternative Notions of Rationality     290
Intuitional Inertia     293
Comprehension and Conception     297
Conclusion     306
Conclusion: The Prospects of Paradox     307
Implications     308
Further Research     309
Paradox: A Blessing in Disguise?     311
Bibliography     313
Index     325
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