Search Results for: "theological anthropology"

Descartes and the Philosophy of Theological Anthropology

In summing up what he has explored in Descartes, Frederick Copleston complains that many later philosophers have ignored “the most important aspects of [Descartes] philosophy when we consider it in its historical setting.” They insist, he says, on depicting Descartes as replacing “the ancient and medieval problem of reason, [with] the modern problem of consciousness.”

Through an engagement with Copleston, this essay offers up a significant contribution by Descartes to the history of philosophy despite common criticisms in the history of philosophy and theological anthropology.

The full-text of this paper is available for FREE by clicking here. The paper is part of an ongoing EPS web project focused on a Philosophy of Theological Anthropology.

Introduction to Theological Anthropology

Baker Academic recently published Introduction to Theological Anthropology by Joshua R. Farris. Farris (PhD, University of Bristol) is Chester and Margaret Paluch Lecturer for 2019-2020 at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. He was assistant professor of theology at Houston Baptist University and served as a Henry Fellow for the Creation Project at the Carl F. H. Henry Center at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is author of The Soul of Theological Anthropology and the coeditor of Christian Physicalism? and The Ashgate Research Companion to Theological Anthropology. 

From the publisher’s description of Introduction to Theological Anthropology:

In this thorough introduction to theological anthropology, Joshua Farris offers an evangelical perspective on the topic. Farris walks the reader through some of the most important issues in traditional approaches to anthropology, such as sexuality, posthumanism, and the image of God. He addresses fundamental questions like, Who am I? and Why do I exist? He also considers the creaturely and divine nature of humans, the body-soul relationship, and the beatific vision.

Joshua Farris is co-editor (with Nathan Jacobs) of the prominent Philosophy of Theological Anthropology project, a web project of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.  

2019 ETS-EPS: Theological Anthropology Sessions

In addition to various individual papers on important philosophical issues, EPS members also contribute to important theological debates at the 2019 ETS-EPS conference:

Systematic Theology: Theological Anthropology 
November 22, 1:00 PM – 4:10 PM
33rd Floor – Mt. Whitney 

Moderator: Timothy Kleiser (Boyce College)

1:00 PM—1:40 PM
Christopher Woznicki(Fuller Theological Seminary)
What Is the Proper Starting Point for Christological Anthropology? T.F. Torrance’s Contribution

1:50 PM—2:30 PM
Dennis Greeson(Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Theosis and Herman Bavinck? T.F. Torrance’s Reconstruction and Its Promise for Bavinck’s Thought

2:40 PM—3:20 PM
Michael Steinmetz(New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary)
The Imago Dei in the Secular Age: Charles Taylor’s Relational Anthropology

3:30 PM—4:10 PM
Robin Dale Hadaway(Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Secret Disciples: Their Role in Culture (John 19:38-42)

The Politics of Theological Anthropology: Political Naturalism, Creation, and the Imago Dei

‘Political naturalism’ is the claim that human beings are naturally political and social creatures. This concept goes back to Plato and is particularly associated with Aristotle.

The rise of social contract theory, however, dispensed with political naturalism and claimed that political community is an invention of human beings.

This paper argues that political naturalism is a position that should be adopted in theological anthropology. After canvassing arguments of political naturalism and social contract theory, the paper critiques the arguments for political naturalism.

Ultimately, it is argued, political naturalism can be derived from the doctrine of creation as well as the nature of God and its connection to the doctrine of the imago Dei.

The full-text of the paper is available for FREE by clicking hereThe paper is part of an ongoing EPS web project focused on a Philosophy of Theological Anthropology.

Theology without Persons? Theological Anthropology and Kevin Hector’s Therapeutic Theory of Language Use

Please consider becoming a regular annual or monthly financial partner with the Evangelical Philosophical Society in order to expand its reach, support its members, and be a credible presence of Christ-shaped philosophical interests in the academy and into the wider culture!

Kevin Hector develops a therapeutic theory of language to assuage modern concerns about applying correspondentist/essentialist language to God. Hector proposes a norm-based theory of language use rooted in mutual recognition.

This exploratory paper identifies two problems arising from Hector’s failure to develop a sufficient theological anthropology that explains how a human can consistently speak of God.

First, the broken trajectory problem demonstrates that successive acts of mutual recognition cannot guarantee continuity of meaning. Second, the divergent trajectories problem demonstrates that mutual recognition may not persist over time.

These problems are the first step toward revising Hector’s proposal by including a theological anthropology.

The full-text of this paper can be downloaded for FREE by clicking hereIt is part of an ongoing EPS web project focused on a Philosophy of Theological Anthropology.


The Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS) is pleased to introduce a unique and ongoing Philosophy of Theological Anthropology project! Your contributions, readership, exploration and support are most welcomed. For more on this theme and Christian contributions to philosophy, become a subscriberfor as low as $25 per year! – to Philosophia Christi, the peer-reviewed journal of the EPS [all EPS members receive Philosophia Christi as part of their membership].

Summary of Project 

Inaugurated in 2018, The Philosophy of Theological Anthropology is an EPS web project devoted to the foundations and meta-themes of theological anthropology. Contributors seek to highlight a variety of new topics, which are at present underexplored, and fresh philosophical perspectives of older topics. This is an opportunity for philosophers and constructive theologians to explore foundational and innovative themes within theological anthropology from a philosophical perspective.

Topics of interest in this web series include areas of epistemology, metaphysics, Christology, and traditioned anthropology. We are interested in approaches that reconceive in fresh new ways the conditions and foundations for thinking about theological anthropology. This amounts to critical interrogations of commonly held assumptions in the contemporary theological literature on anthropology. We invite contributions that are extensions of previously published works as well as unique speculative pieces. 

Areas of Web Project 

The present issue will contain topics on anthropology, philosophy of mind, imago Dei [broadly conceived], with the aim toward advancing the philosophical foundations and implications of a theistic anthropology.

Current Papers

Core Project Questions

  • How should we approach the anthropos and its telos?
  • Furthermore, how might we understand human ‘selfhood’ and ‘identity’?
  • What are the benefits and liabilities of an Analytic Theology approach?
  • Analytic Theology and Christological anthropology?
  • What are the benefits and liabilities of a more Phenomenological approach to the anthropos?
  • What is the distinctive contribution of philosophy of mind/personal ontology in contemporary theological anthropology?
  • What role does or should the sciences play in our theological constructions?
  • What are the benefits of a Christological method to anthropology?
  • Christological anthropology as an organizing motif?
  • Is a Christological method sufficient for theological anthropology?
  • From the Christian tradition, what is the Good News for the anthropos and how might that shape approaches to a study of what it means to be human?
  • What role do ecclesial, theological, or philosophical traditions play in our theological construction?
  • What substantive place does reason and experience have in understanding humans?
  • What are the different religious/denominational perspectives on the nature of human beings?
  • How might spiritual features and formation of a human being shape an understanding of the nature and purpose of a human being?
  • What are the distinctive ideas within a Christian anthropology and other religious anthropologies?
  • How might theologies and philosophies of the human person shape theologies and philosophies of ‘public life’?

Find this Project Interesting? See these other EPS Web Projects

Want to Contribute to the Philosophy of Theological Anthropology Project? 

Options for contributing: reflection essays, critical responses, book reviews, exploratory essays, dialectical pieces, methodological hybrids (biblical studies to philosophy), how to communicate to the public.

Length: Shorter (e.g., 1500-2000 words) and longer papers (e.g., 6,000 words) are permitted. You are welcome to work with the Project Editors on length issues.

Suggested topics: evolution and theological anthropology, imago Dei, the metaphysics of gender and sexuality, method, Christological anthropology, religious epistemology, and human ontology.

Main Project Categories:

  1. Denominational and Traditioned Theological Anthropology
  2. Gender, Sex, and Sexuality
  3. Sociology, Ethnography, and Theological Anthropology
  4. Science, Design, and Anthropology
  5. Technology and Posthumanism
  6. Morality and Theological Anthropology
  7. Disciplines: Philosophy, Biblical Theology, Philosophical Theology, Systematic/Constructive Theology, Retrieval Theology, Social Science, Humanities (N.B. the aim of the investigation ought to impinge on philosophical-theological matters)

Submit a Proposal: Email a topic, thesis and description of the proposed paper (250 words max) to Project Editors Joshua Farris and Nathan Jacobs [see below]. They will help guide your proposal toward being a contribution of this web project.

Lead Project Editors & Coordinators:

Past Editorial Assistant: Dave Strobolakos.

Web Project Overseer: Joseph E. Gorra, Consulting Editor, Philosophia Christi.

Please consider becoming a regular annual or monthly financial partner with the Evangelical Philosophical Society in order to expand its reach, support its members, and be a credible presence of Christ-shaped philosophical interests in the academy and into the wider culture!

The Research Companion to Theological Anthropology

In recent scholarship there is an emerging interest in the integration of philosophy and theology.

Philosophers and theologians address the relationship between body and soul and its implications for theological anthropology. In so doing, philosopher-theologians interact with cognitive science, biological evolution, psychology, and sociology. Reflecting these exciting new developments,

Edited by EPS members, Joshua Farris and Charles Taliaferro, the Research Companion to Theological Anthropology is a resource for philosophers and theologians, students and scholars, interested in the constructive, critical exploration of a theology of human persons.

Throughout this collection of newly authored contributions, key themes are addressed: human agency and grace, the soul, sin and salvation, Christology, glory, feminism, the theology of human nature, and other major themes in theological anthropology in historic as well as contemporary contexts.

From the dozens of contributions in this single volume resource, we highlight some of the contributions, along with further resources for study.

Theosis and Theological Anthropology

Learn more about this Routledge Research Companion to Theological Anthropology and this chapter contribution!

The patristic soteriology of theosis has rightly received increasing attention because of its theologically integrative perspective, bringing together Christology and Pneumatology, protology and eschatology, soteriology and ecclesiology. In our essay we discuss theosis in light of Christology (with Maximus the Confessor) and the Trinity (with T.F. Torrance) to show how it relates to both Patristic/Byzantine theology as well as modern Protestant theology. With Maximus, we see a robust Trinitarian theology that explains guides his Christological soteriology: in the hypostatic union the transformation of Christ’s own humanity is paradigmatic for the believers who follow him. With Torrance, we see that God has opened himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit to share His love and self-knowledge with humanity, and as we encounter God we are transformed by participating in this relationship. Ultimately, we argue that the doctrine of theosis draws anthropological discussions back to the theocentric intention for humanity, redemption as union and participation, and a relational ontology of humans.

For further study

  • How do the topics of original sin and the interaction of divine and human agency inform understandings of theosis?
  • What distinguishes relational ontologies from other ontological and soteriological systems?
  • Relatively little work has been done on the categorization of patristic authors with regard to substance dualism and hylomorphism.

Scripture and Philosophy on the Unity of Body and Soul: An Integrative Method for Theological Anthropology

Learn more about this Routledge Research Companion to Theological Anthropology and this chapter contribution!

In recent decades Christian scholars have debated vigorously whether the biblical view of the body-soul relation is dualistic or monistic. The primary reason for this fundamental disagreement, in my judgment, is a difference in biblical hermeneutics and theological method—conflicting beliefs about the proper interpretation of Scripture, its elaboration into doctrine, and the authority of biblical teaching in relation to the truth-claims of philosophy and science.

This essay draws attention to the role of philosophy in theological hermeneutics as it shapes biblical anthropology. The first section outlines a version of the historic ecumenical Christian approach to Scripture and theology and concludes that the biblical view of body and soul is both holistic and dualistic. The second section contrasts the theological anthropology of historic Christianity with modern approaches since Hobbes and Spinoza, many of which endorse monism—whether idealist, psychosomatic, or materialist. The final section contrasts and evaluates these perspectives concerning the image of God, freedom and determinism, and personal existence after death. Here follows a short elaboration.

The first section employs the grammatical, literary, historical, and canonical/theological method of biblical hermeneutics to discern the original meaning of the individual texts and to articulate the complex picture of human nature that they collectively generate. This method uses philosophy not to determine Scripture’s meaning or truth but to clarify and elaborate its perspective on human nature into a conceptual framework which can engage philosophy and science. This approach assumes that the Bible addresses the issues of life, death, and the life to come in the ordinary language and often figurative expressions of its original authors and readers–the same genres as other religions and non-philosophical worldviews. It likewise uses the terms dualism, monism, and holism primarily in this generic pre-philosophical sense. Dualism implies that humans consist of two basic parts or ingredients and usually affirms continuing existence of the soul, spirit, or person after death. Monism holds that humans consist of one basic ingredient–material, spiritual, or psychosomatic–and material and psychosomatic monism imply that disembodied personal existence is impossible. Holism means that humans exist and function as integrated psychosomatic wholes, but it does not address the number and nature of ingredients or the possibility of an afterlife. Thus integral dualism and non-reductive monism can be holistic.

The essay applies this hermeneutical approach to key Old Testament, intertestamental, and New Testament texts on three topics relevant to the body-soul relation: God’s composition of humans, the unity of human nature, and our destiny through death to bodily resurrection.
With respect to composition, God creates and resurrects people by conjoining two different constituents. In Genesis 2:7 he created the man as a living being (nephesh chayah) from the dust of the ground and the breath of life (neshama). In Ezekiel 37 God brings about bodily resurrection by reassembling lifeless bodies from their parts and reanimating them with life-spirit (ruach). Two basic constituents by defintion rule out all kinds of monism. In ancient near-eastern animism, neshama/ruach is a subsistent principle or power and sometimes but not always an enduring entity such as a spirit or god. Spirit is more clearly substantive in Second Temple Judaism and the New Testament, but the composition texts alone are not sufficient to confirm dualism.

The functional unity of body and soul is an obvious implication of the Old and New Testaments’ anthropological terms in their various contexts and uses, taken together as a coherent whole. Body, flesh, bones, heart, viscera, life-breath, soul, spirit, mind, and will are integrated and interdependent parts and powers of whole spiritual-bodily beings whose entire lives are related to God, the spiritual realm, other humans, and the natural world. This unity represents functional holism, which does not address the number or possible separation of constituent parts, and so it is consistent with non-reductive monism and integral dualism. Thus conclusions about the body-soul relation cannot be inferred from Scripture’s emphasis on the unity of life in this world. In particular, holism does not imply monism.

Scripture’s teaching about death and the life to come turns out to be the decisive factor in the body-soul debate. It develops from the Hebrew Bible through Second Temple Judaism and comes to full expression in the New Testament.

The first Testament is primarily focused on God’s relationship with his people in this world. But its references to death, the underworld Sheol, living with the Lord forever, and the future resurrection are sufficient to imply that persons (e.g. Moses, Samuel, and David) subsist apart from their bodies after death even if they are currently inactive in Sheol.
Second Temple Judaism illuminates the New Testament. Among its many perspective, three are paradigmatic for the body-soul debate. The Sadducees did not believe in personal existence after death, which is consistent with monism. Philo and other Hellenistic Jews were influenced by Plato and prized future existence as disembodied souls or resurrected spiritually. The Pharisees and most Rabbis affirmed earthly existence and bodily resurrection but also the existence of souls or spirits between death and resurrection.

The New Testament consistently represents the third view—future bodily resurrection at the return of Christ, and being apart from the body with Christ in the meantime (Phil. 1:20-22; 2 Cor. 5:6-9). This sequence was actualized by Christ himself, who was in Paradise between his death and resurrection (Lk. 23:43). It was taught by Paul, who explicitly endorsed the position of the Pharisees (Acts 23:6-8) and elaborated it collectively in the texts of his letters that address death, resurrection, and union with Christ. All other relevant New Testament texts are likewise consistent with this position. The alternatives–immediate resurrection and non-existence between death and resurrection–are inconsistent with it. Thus the New Testament clearly teaches that human individuals exist without their bodies between death and resurrection. It refers to the dead in various ways–spirits, souls, personal names, and personal pronouns. Obviously biblical eschatology requires a dualist anthropology.

The rest of the chapter surveys and compares the roles of philosophy in the history of Christian theological anthropology. It notes how Augustine and the patristics reformed Platonic concepts of body and soul to express the historic biblical perspective, and how Aquinas formulated an integral dual-ingredient anthropology using Aristotelian hylemorphism. It identifies a number of current Christian defenders of these traditions.

Modern Christianity since the seventeenth century increasingly interpreted and evaluated the truth-claims of Scripture “according to reason” (Locke), that is, philosophy and science. After Descartes, Hobbes’ materialist and Spinoza’s idealist readings of biblical anthropology inaugurated the main monist alternatives. Idealist modifications of Spinoza allowed the affirmation of personal immortality beyond physical existence–reminiscent of Platonism–as is evident in Kant and liberal theology following Schleiermacher.

Psychophysical monism was promoted by some nineteenth-century vitalists and panpsychists (e.g. Whitehead). Materialism was rejected as a corollary of atheism until well into the twentieth century, when evolutionary Big Bang cosmology allowed theistic naturalists to argue that the human soul, the image of God, rationality, moral responsibility, and spirituality are emergent physical capacities.

The chapter concludes by noting key doctrinal differences among historic, modern, and current materialist theological anthropologies regarding the image of God, freedom of the will, and personal eschatology, in addition to the body-soul relation. The greatest challenge is faced by those who claim to affirm both the historic Christian approach to Scripture and an anthropology which entails that souls or persons are generated by and cannot exist without their bodies.

Philosophy has a crucial role in theological anthropology. But the current Christian body-soul debate has been far more philosophically articulate than informed by sound hermeneutics, exegesis, and theological formulation as they relate to philosophy and science. The discussion would benefit greatly from more contributions by philosophically-informed biblical scholars and theologians who can explain the diversity and complexity of what we so loosely invoke as biblical anthropology or the biblical view of body and soul. A fundamental reason for the debate is that we do not agree on how to read Scripture or relate it to philosophy and science. Greater clarity on these positions and issues would result in greater understanding, more consensus on some points, and better focus on genuine disagreements.