A Solution to the Fundamental Philosophical Problem of Christology

Journal of Analytic Theology 2:61-85 (2014)
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I consider the fundamental philosophical problem for Christology: how can one and the same person, the Second Person of the Trinity, be both God and man. For being God implies having certain attributes, perhaps immutability, or impassibility, whereas being human implies having apparently inconsistent attributes. This problem is especially vexing for the proponent of Conciliar Christology – the Christology taught in the Ecumenical Councils – since those councils affirm that Christ is both mutable and immutable, both passible and impassible, etc. Many extant solutions to this problem approach it by claiming that the predicates are incompatible when said of the same thing without qualification, but that once the appropriate qualification is added, compatibility is achieved. I provide a different approach. Here I argued that the predicates can be understood so that they are compatible. I then work out the logical relations between the predicates, so understood, showing that no contradiction follows from understanding them in the way I suggest. After that, I consider some of the motivations we have for believing the purportedly incompatible pairs to be, in fact, incompatible, and argue that, on the view offered here, we can salvage most of our intuitions that motivate taking the predicates as incompatible. Finally, I consider three objections.

Author's Profile

Tim Pawl
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota


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