It is a great honor and an exceptional privilege to introduce you to the sub-program of the Analytic Theology Cluster Initiative: “Concepts of God”, operated and generously sponsored by the Institut für Christliche Philosophie Universität Innsbruck, and organized by the Volos Academy for Theological Studies (Volos, Greece), under the specific title,
“Is the Christian understanding of the personhood of God too anthropomorphic? An Orthodox contribution”
||Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis (Volos Academy for Theological Studies)
||Dr. Michalis Filippou
Program participants include:
Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis (Volos Academy for Theological Studies)
Emeritus Professor Dr. Richard Swinburne (Oxford University)
Dr. Michalis Filippou
Rev. Dr. Dimitrios Bathrellos (The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge)
Emeritus Professor Dr. William Hasker (Huntington University)
Professor Dr. Stelios Virvidakis (University of Athens)
Professor Dr. Terrence Cuneo (University of Vermont)
Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon
Professor Dr. Bryan Leftow (University of Oxford)
Professor Dr. Byron Kaldis (National Technical University of Athens)
Rev. Dr. Isidoros Katsos (University of Cambridge)
Professor Emeritus Dr. John Cottingham (University of Reading)
Dr. Dionysios Skliris (Sorbonne University)
Dr. Haralambos Ventis (University of Athens)
Rev. Alexandros Chouliaras (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)
Dr. Michalis Pangalos
The project proposes to critically examine some key aspects of traditional doctrines of Christian (Orthodox) theism and theology related to divine and human personhood in the light of contemporary analytic theology and philosophy. At the same time it aims at promoting a first endeavor of deep and serious interdisciplinary engagement and cooperation among analytic philosophers and Orthodox theologians, a reality that was unforeseen in earlier times. Christian theory of personhood as it has been developed during especially the 20th century by eminent thinkers both on the level of ontology-theology and anthropology provides the modern discussion with the necessary resources in order to critically reflect on the possible value and limits of these theological views of divine and human personhood. At the same time it calls for a consideration of the value of complementary analytical philosophical approaches to the subject for theological research and vice versa.
Thus an attempt will be made in this project to discuss creatively the dominant theories about the Trinity, namely the “social theory” which claims that each of the three Trinitarian persons has a separate consciousness, and the so – called “anti-social” theory which claims quite the opposite. As regards Christology, although there is no any profound or rather deep division among analytic philosophers, yet there is a great variety of views about the extent to which the divine and human properties could belong to one individual (namely the person of Jesus Christ). At the same time the two extreme views in the analytic philosophy tradition about ordinary humans will be also taken into account in the light of Orthodox theology, that is the view that human persons are just complicated physical organisms, and the view that they are essentially souls. The first view is often called “physicalism,” and the latter view “substance dualism,” while one could define a third intermediate view, called “property dualism”.
The main purpose then of this critical discussion is to explore whether the dominant orthodox Christian understanding of the personhood of God is anthropomorphic by virtue of searching for the inner logic of the basic doctrines of Christian theism, such as Trinitarian theology, Christology, anthropology. It is commonly asserted - by both thinkers and ordinary people - that an increasing number of Christian theologians argue that an understanding of God as person (or personal) (as it is the case with the classic model of Christian theism) risks the danger of being too anthropomorphic, to an extent of perceiving God as a supreme being, which exceeds the (created) limitations that characterize humans. At the same time, however, there are many Western scholars, secular or not, as well as most of the ordinary people who, albeit open-minded to religious issues, find the concept of an impersonal being at least problematic from a Christian standpoint. Then the following critical question emerges: Does a Christian theory of personhood in the light of Orthodox tradition and modern Orthodox theological thought provide the necessary means of addressing the various philosophical and theological reservations in the context of the modern discussion as well as the worries expressed by contemporary scholars or ordinary believers? Eminent and worldwide recognized Christian and secular scholars (theologians and philosophers) will be invited to contribute by virtue of their special field of expertise (analytic philosophy and theology, orthodox dogmatic theology etc.), to a deep exploration of the logical coherence or inconsistency of the basic doctrines of Christian theism, the positive as well as negative dynamic of the various perceptions of personhood, a critical evaluation of the diverse current hermeneutical theories etc.