Tag Archives: fuller theological seminary

Some Reflections on “Divine Impassibility and the Uninfluenced Love of God”

On Wednesday March 8th the Analytic Theology Seminar had the pleasure of hosting Ryan Mullins, the Director of Communications and Research Fellow at the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology at the University of St. Andrews. Mullins endured an unbearably long flight across the pond, yet he managed to deliver a stimulating paperfb_img_1483804409430-169x300 that generated much discussion during the second portion of our seminar. In his paper, titled, “Divine Impassibility and the Uninfluenced Love of God,” Mullins made a case for a passible God. He argued that even while granting impassibilists their favored definition of love as benevolence + union, this definition pushes the impassibilist towards a passibilist God. In order to make a case for this thesis he engaged in several moves.

The first move he made was to articulate the doctrine of divine impassibility in a charitable manner. He noted that there are three common themes that make up the core of this doctrine: 1) God cannot suffer, 2) God cannot be moved, nor acted upon, by anything ad extra to the divine nature, and 3) God lacks passions. This last core component of the doctrine draws most of Mullins’s attention. He was primarily concerned with how impassibilists treat “love.” William Shedd, for instance, concludes that God lacks passions, yet God has the emotion of love. Mullins then made his way through various historical examples to explain how impassibilists attempted to attribute love to an impassible God. His survey of how this has been done historically lead him to modify the third core theme of the doctrine to “it is metaphysically impossible for God to have an emotion that is irrational, immoral, or that disrupts His perfect happiness.”

You can read the rest of the blog over at Fuller’s Analytic Theology Webpage.

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Love: Creaturely and Divine

On the fifth week of the AT Seminar Series Sameer Yadav, Assistant Professor of Religious

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Sameer Yadav

Studies at Westmont University, delivered a paper titled “Love: Creaturely and Divine.” In his paper Yadav dealt with Schellenberg’s divine hiddenness argument by providing what could be called a “Plantingian Divine Imaging Defense.”

An Overview of “Love: Creaturely and Divine”

Although not new, the problem of Divine Hiddenness (DH) became the subject of extensive philosophical discussion when J.L. Schellenberg published his book, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, in 1993. Schellenberg and others who put forth this argument appeal to existence of non-resistant non-believers as evidence for the non-existence of a perfectly loving God. We can summarize the main idea of DH as:

If God is perfectly Loving, then non-resistant non-belief does not exist. But it seems as though non-resistant non-belief does exist. Therefore, a perfectly loving God does not exist.

You can read the rest of this post over at Fuller Seminary’s Analytic Theology Blog.

Is Analytic Theology REALLY Systematic Theology?

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Last week Oliver Crisp kicked off the 2016 Analytic Theology Seminar Series at Fuller Seminary. He gave a wonderfully precise and clear lecture on the relationship between Analytic Theology and Systematic Theology. Basically he answered the question:

Is analytic theology really systematic theology or is it really just ersatz theology?

The way that Crisp approached this question was to examine the works of three different exemplars of systematic theology. Scholars whom nobody would doubt their pedigree as analytic theologians. First he examined the purpose and project of John Webster, followed by Brian Gerrish, and concluding with Gordon Kaufman. All very different types of theologians, but systematic theologians nonetheless.

In examining the works of these theologians he came up with a “shared task” of systematic theology. Think of it as a minimalist account of systematic theology:

Shared Task: Commitment to an intellectual undertaking that involves (though it may not comprise) explicating the conceptual content of the Christian tradition (with the expectation that this is normally done from a position within that tradition, as an adherent of that tradition), using particular religious texts that are part of the Christian tradition, including sacred scripture, as well as human reason, reflection, and praxis (particularly religious practices, as sources for theological judgements.

What jumped out to me about this minimalist account of ST is that it involves to main claims. One claim is about the task and the other is about the sources. The task is one of explanation, the primary sources are religious texts (broadly construed) and other secondary sources.

To me this seems like a fairly minimal account of what systematic theologians do. Naturally some may have a more robust account than this, but none will have something less than this. It seems to me, and it certainly seemed to Crisp that Analytic Theology does what is described in “shared task,” however it does it in a way that uses the tools, methods, and sources of the tradition of philosophy we have come to call “analytic.”

So is Analytic Theology truly Systematic Theology? As long as it keeps to the shared task, I have no reason to say why not.

Analytic Theology Seminars at Fuller Seminary Start Today!

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See the message below from Allison Wiltshire

Hello!

I would like to invite you to join us at Fuller Seminary for a weekly series of talks on human and divine love as part of the Analytic Theology for Theological Formation project.  Our team would be thrilled for you to attend any or all of the events. Feel free to pass along this information to your students or colleagues who may also be interested.
Attached you will find a schedule for the entire series that run January-June as well as a more detailed advertisement for the first 7 events. The first event is tomorrow, January 4, from 3-5pm in the faculty commons at the David Allen Hubbard Library on Fuller’s campus. Dr. Oliver Crisp will open up the series by giving an introduction to analytic theology.
For more information you can visit our website, facebook, or twitter. Feel free to contact me with any questions!
Best,
Allison Wiltshire


Allison Wiltshire 
Fuller Theological Seminary
Research Administrator AT project

When We Think About God

“When we’re talking about God we can’t afford to be sloppy.” As you probably know I am studying in a new field that seeks to revive an ancient form of theological reflection: analytic theology. This discipline that combines the rigor of philosophy with the wonder of theology, I work with Dr. Oliver Crisp, professor of systematic theology, and a team of visiting scholars to reflect carefully on prayer, love, and human nature. In the following video – directed and produced by Fuller Studio – I share my passion for theology, the dangers of muddled thinking, and my hopes for the church to be informed by good theology.

“Theology done well not only impacts people’s lives, says something to the world about who God actually is.”

You can see the original post on Fuller’s Analytic Theology Website.

How I Got into Analytic Theology (The Long Version)

A while ago I posted a link about how I got into Analytic Theology. That was a shortened version of my story (due to word count limits). Here is the original “long” version.

When I first set foot onto UCLA’s campus, with its Romanesque Revival style architecture and green rolling hills, I was in awe. I knew that at the end of my four years studying physiological science I would be going to medical school (hopefully at UCLA) so that one day I could be a medical missionary. From a young age God had impressed upon my heart a desire to serve and reach those who had yet to hear the message of the gospel. I remember having dreams about being a missionary in places that had not yet heard the good news. The missio Dei was on my heart, so becoming a medical missionary seemed like a really good way to take part in God’s mission. My plan was set, I was going to be a medical doctor. I thought it was a great plan, but I forgot one thing: “The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Prov. 16:9, ESV)  I planned on going to medical school, but I quickly found that a weakness that was easy for me to cover up in High School would derail my plans: I was terrible at math. It may have been that the way my brain is wired just isn’t conducive for doing math (at least that’s what I tell myself). Calculus and organic chemistry wrecked me, I got grades in those classes that I had never seen in my entire life. At that point my academic advisor counseled me to try some other classes out. So I looked through which general education courses I could take to fulfill my graduation requirements and stumbled into a Philosophy of Mind class. I was hooked! It was such a change of pace from my math and chemistry courses. The next quarter I decided to take a Medieval Philosophy class, my 19 year old mind was blown. There I was at UCLA, studying Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, and Abelard. I was doing philosophical theology at UCLA! At that point I decided, I want to be a philosopher. So with the encouragement of some of my pastors (even though some Christians I knew kept throwing Colossians 2:8 in my face), I changed majors. I spent the rest of my time at UCLA focused on philosophy. In my courses we were assigned Geach and van  Inwagen on the Trinity, Craig on Universals, and Plantinga on possible worlds. In other courses we discussed the ontological argument, the implications of the beatific vision for epistemology, how Berkeley’s idealism affected Christology, and how Anselm’s “On the Fall of Satan” sheds light on free will and moral responsibility. At the time I had no idea that what I was doing was actually Analytic Theology, but that is certainly what I was doing.

Before I graduated from UCLA in 2010 I had to make some decisions as to what I would do next with my life. I really enjoyed doing philosophy, but still had the burden of the missio Dei on my heart. So I figured I should do philosophy of religion, that way I could be on mission at a secular university. But I knew that in order to do that well I would have to know theology well. So I decided to go to Fuller Seminary. I applied to their School of Theology, but just a few months before classes began I once again felt the burden of my missionary call, so I switched over to the Intercultural Studies program. Eventually I switched back into theology, and took my first systematic theology class with Oliver Crisp. What I remember most about that class was how much my philosophical training at UCLA fed into our theological discussions. It was almost as though all that I learned while doing analytic philosophy served as a resource to draw from when doing theology. Analytic theology was being used as a tool for doing theology. This was radically different from my previous encounters with systematic theology, which seemed to have a concordance or proof-text like nature to its approach.

Despite stumbling onto a way of doing theology that aligned itself with my love of philosophy, I still had the burden of the mission dei in the back of my mind. Thankfully, during my years of doing college ministry while in seminary my calling got sharpened. I discovered what my role is in the mission of God. My calling is to equip the church for the sake of mission.

Towards the end of my MA at Fuller I was finally able to put all of the pieces of my journey together: I had a burden for mission, I loved analytic philosophy, and I felt a call to equip the church. All these pieces,  fit so well into Fuller’s Analytic Theology for Theological Formation Project.

The project hypothesizes that Analytic Theology provides a rigorous intellectual framework for the training and formation of church leaders…. It brings together theologians and scholars with pastors and church leaders to explore the ways in which theology, and Analytic Theology specifically, may be of service to the life of the church.”[1]

Through the AT project, I am learning how to best put my training in analytic philosophy to use for the sake of doing theology that will help to equip the church for its God given mission.

That’s a little bit about how I got I got into AT – it all started with a desire to serve God’s mission, winded its way through a bunch of classes in analytic philosophy, and culminated in me starting my PhD as a part of Fuller’s AT Project. However, a better question than “How did You get into AT?” is “Why did you get into AT?” The answer to that question is a lot shorter. It is because Analytic Theology is the best way for me to do my part to contribute to God’s plan of making himself and the gospel known throughout the world.

[1] http://analytictheologyfuller.org/about/