Search Results for: Andrew T. Loke

Andrew Loke on “A Novel Cosmological Argument”

In 2017, Palgrave Macmillan published God and Ultimate Origins: A Novel Cosmological Argument in the Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion series by Andrew Ter Ern Loke. Loke is Research Assistant Professor in Faith and Global Engagement at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of The Origins of Divine Christology (2017), A Kryptic Model of the Incarnation (2014), and various articles in leading international journals in philosophy, science and religion, and theology.

From the publisher’s description of God and Ultimate Origins:

This book develops a novel argument which combines the Kalam with the Thomistic Cosmological Argument. It approaches an ongoing dispute concerning whether there is a First Cause of time from a radically new point of view, namely by demonstrating that there is such a First Cause without requiring the controversial arguments against concrete infinities and against traversing an actual infinite (although the book presents original defenses of these arguments as well). This book also develops a novel philosophical argument for the Causal Principle, namely that ‘everything that begins to exist has a cause’, and offers a detailed discussion on whether a First Cause of time can be avoided by a causal loop. It also addresses epistemological issues related to the Cosmological Argument which have been relatively neglected by recent publications, and demonstrates (contra Hawking et al) the continual relevance and significance of philosophy for answering ultimate questions.

Interview with Andrew Loke: A Kryptic Model of the Incarnation

Christian philosophers and theologians continue to work-out different models for understanding the complexities of the incarnation, especially in light of objections to the doctrine and fidelity to Christian tradition and witness. Andrew Loke recently published A Kryptic Model of the Incarnation (Ashgate, 2014). Andrew is Research Assistant Professor at The University of Hong Kong.

In the following interview, we discuss his ‘kryptic model’ and some of its implications in light of different approaches to the doctrine of the Incarnation. He also situates his model in light of biblical and historical theology interests. Finally, he offers some perspective on what the kryptic model might achieve among inter-religious and inter-denominational discussions.
When you stand in awe of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, what is it that most captures your imagination? Where does your mind begin to immediately wonder?

The Maker of the universe becoming a child on earth for us–what an astonishing thought! What a real historical event worthy of the greatest celebration! My mind and heart are captivated by those glorious carols which are sung every Christmas. I particularly like this line from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
‘Glory to the newborn King!’

Is the messianic identity and mission of Jesus the central concern of the doctrine of the incarnation? If so, is the ‘metaphysics of’ and ‘theology of’ that concern a subsidiary interest or something else? How do you see this?

The messianic identity and mission are indeed central, but the doctrine of the Incarnation also needs to be defended against the accusation of incoherence by sceptics from various traditions (Jewish, Islamic, etc.) throughout the centuries.  They have pointed out, for example, that being divine entails being omniscient and omnipotent, but the New Testament portrays Jesus as having human properties such as being apparently limited in knowledge (Mark 13:32) and power (John 4:3-6).

Many Christians have responded by saying that the Incarnation is a mystery. This is true, but the inadequacy with simply replying ‘mystery’ is that, since the Christian wants to make meaningful statements by affirming, for example, that the divine nature includes omniscience and that Jesus was apparently limited in knowledge as stated by the Scriptures, he/she must demonstrate what is meant (or what could possibly be meant) by these statements; it is not enough to claim that it is a ‘mystery’ and leave it as that. Moreover, the Christian must ensure that the explications of these statements do not result in contradictions. The problem with asserting that one can make contradictory statements about Jesus (e.g. ‘Jesus has complete awareness of everything and complete unawareness of everything simultaneously’) is that the person who makes such contradictory statements is not affirming anything about Jesus. Affirming ‘complete awareness of everything’ and ‘complete unawareness of everything’ simply cancel each other out; it is like writing something and then immediately erasing it, such that one ends up with nothing that is affirmed of Jesus.

Therefore, in order to make meaningful statements about Jesus in accordance with the Scriptures and to rebut the charge of incoherence, the Christian has to provide a model to show how concepts like omniscience and apparent limitation in knowledge can be affirmed of Jesus such that no contradiction results. The work which has been done in this area by metaphysicians and theologians can help to address the accusation of incoherence and open up conceptual spaces, so as to allow the Scriptural account of the Incarnation to be affirmed in all its glory and illuminate our understanding of God and humanity.

Systematic philosophical and theological accounts of the incarnation attempt to weigh-in on serious metaphysical, exegetical, theological and historical problems with the doctrine of the incarnation. Rigorous analysis and problematizing of issues seems to be the main approach. What are the limits and opportunities of such approach in light of the central concern of the doctrine of the incarnation?

Such an approach can be useful for clearing away the obstacles to the reception of the Messiah as God Incarnate. In particular, offering a defensible model of the Incarnation can aid our understanding of Scriptural passages relevant to the Incarnation and protect us against heretical notions. It can also be helpful for resolving longstanding interdenominational disagreements concerning the Incarnation, such as those between Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches, Dyothelites and Monothelites, and Lutherans and Reformed theologians. A review of church history shows that these disagreements are to a large extent due to neither side being able to see how the position of the other side could be possible within the bounds of orthodoxy. For example, the Reformed theologians fail to see how the Lutheran’s position on the unity of Christ’s person could avoid compromising Christ’s humanity, while the Lutherans fail to see how the reformed position on the distinction of natures could avoid compromising his unity. Hence, proposing a defensible model that would address the concerns of both sides would be very useful indeed, and further work in this area should be encouraged. However, this should be done with a clear recognition of its limitation, namely that it is not intended to provide an exhaustive description of Christ, and hence does not aim to dispel all mystery.

What are the main theses of your ‘kryptic model’ of the incarnation?

The key insight is that a divine person can refrain from utilizing his omnipotence when he carries out certain activities, such as walking to a town in Samaria. One can therefore suggest that the Son of God did this by the finite strength of his human body instead of utilizing his divine powers, hence he could experience fatigue as portrayed in John 4:3-6.

Likewise knowledge can be understood as a kind of power which one can refrain from utilizing. For example, a person might have knowledge of calculus, even though he might not be consciously thinking about calculus all the time. This knowledge of calculus can be said to be in his preconscious: when he chooses to utilize this knowledge by directing his attention to it, that is, when he chooses to consciously think about calculus, he can become aware of calculus.

Since having knowledge of a certain thing such as calculus does not require a constant conscious awareness of that thing, the knowledge of all things by a divine Person does not require a constant conscious awareness of all things by him. Thus, it could be the case that a divine Person chose to let his knowledge of all things reside in his divine preconscious at the Incarnation, and he freely chose not to utilize all of the knowledge in his preconscious, so as to consciously experience our human limitations.

Concerning Mark 13:32, it should be noted that the Greek word οἶδεν which is translated as ‘know’ means ‘to have realized, perceived, to know’; this word is often used in the New Testament in a general way, e.g. to know a person, to be able to understand/apprehend/recognize (TDNT vol.5, pp.116-119). Therefore, in view of its semantic range, in this passage οἶδεν can be legitimately rendered as ‘aware’. Thus, Mark 13:32 can be read as ‘But of that day or hour no one is aware, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.’ This reading fits the context perfectly: the disciples would be hoping that the Son would reveal to them the day of his coming, but no one can reveal what he/she is not aware. For our purposes here, it is important to note that such an unawareness of the Son can co-exist with omniscience in the same person because, as noted previously, omniscience does not require a conscious awareness of all the things known. A divine person can use his omnipotence to restrict the scope of his conscious awareness as well as the utilization of his omniscience, and in this state of self-restraint the Son was genuinely unaware of that day; it was not a sham.

What do you take to be the most salient evidence in support of your model?

The New Testament portrays Christ as having divine powers including the knowledge of all things (e.g. John 16:30, 21:17), but not utilizing them in all situations (e.g. Mark 13:32 and John 4:3-6 noted previously). His divine powers were largely ‘hidden’ (‘Krypsis’ in Greek) during the Incarnation, and only utilized on certain occasions to reveal his glory (e.g. John 2:1–11).  This is what my model postulates.

What might be the most contestable aspects of your model?

Its complexity. C. Stephen Evans told me that one standard criterion for the plausibility of a hypothesis is simplicity, and that my model fares poorly in this regard, for it seems to be much more complicated than alternative models such as the Two Consciousnesses Model and the Ontological Kenotic Model, and at times it seems as if it labours with ad hoc additions such as ‘it is possible that…’

This is an important objection, but I think it is answerable. Simplicity is a virtue and the charge of being ad hoc is valid only if all other things are equal. In this case it is not the case that all other things are equal, because alternative models such as the Two Consciousnesses Model and the Ontological Kenotic Model have significant problems which disappear on my Kryptic Model. Given this, the additions that my model makes are not ad hoc, because they help us to make sense of the Incarnation, the historical evidence for which has been defended by distinguished historians of early Christianity (e.g. N.T. Wright, Craig Keener) and eminent philosophers of religion (e.g. Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig). Additionally, it seems that a great level of complexity in the metaphysics is only to be expected given the sheer difficulty of the idea that a person could at the same time be a human as well as the Maker of the universe, thus the kind of additions that my model makes seems warranted.

What does your model make possible and plausible that other models fail to accomplish?

My model makes it possible to affirm that Christ had a single consciousness yet retained his divine powers at the Incarnation.

The plausibility of the model can be seen when we reflect on the following train of thought. Given that the Two Consciousnesses Model would entail the difficulties that Christ could have two contradictory self-consciousnesses simultaneously and that there could be an I–Thou relationship between these consciousnesses, which implies Nestorianism, Christ could have only one consciousness. Given the difficulty (which besets the Ontological Kenotic Model) of answering whether a divine person would still be divine if he were to give up his omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence (cf. Ps.147:4–5, Luke 1:37, Jer. 23:23–4 etc.), Christ must in some way be in possession of these properties (and this seems more consistent with Scriptural passages such as John 16:30, 21:17; Col. 1:17) but not utilizing them in all the acts that he did while he was in his incarnate state. This is what my model postulates of Christ.

In addition, my model answers other difficult questions facing the Divine Subconscious Model which have not been adequately addressed by previous versions of this model. For example, by postulating that the divine preconscious was not part of his human nature but was part of his divine nature, and that the divine nature and human nature were concrete and distinct parts of Christ, my model avoids a Monophysite mixture. Moreover, my model avoids Apollinarianism by postulating a human preconscious alongside a divine preconscious. While some recent advocates of the Divine Subconscious Model have denied Dyothelitism, I demonstrated in Chapters 5 and 6 that my model is consistent with the Dyothelitism of Maximus the Confessor.

Can you outline further work to be done by philosophers and theologians in light of your kryptic model of the incarnation?

The Incarnation is one of the central doctrines of Christian theology. It is the culmination of divine revelation, and therefore ought to determine our understanding of God and humanity. Christian theologian and philosophers working on the explication of Divine Attributes, the Doctrine of the Trinity and theological anthropology cannot afford to ignore how the Incarnation is to be understood. Working on these issues in light of this Kryptic model would involve, for example, the rejection of a strong version of divine immutability and essential timelessness, as well as the rejection of a physicalist account of human nature, as argued in Chapter 6 of my book.

Another potentially fruitful area of research concerns inter-denominational and inter-religious dialogues. Breakthroughs might be achieved by utilizing the insights provided by the Kryptic model to address the concerns and objections related to the Incarnation, which can be found in the writings of Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches, Lutheran and Reformed traditions etc., as well in the writings of Jehovah Witnesses, and Islamic and Judaist theologians etc. throughout the centuries. Hopefully, this would result in greater unity within the body of Christ, and more effective witness to the glory of the Incarnation.

Subscribe to Philosophia Christi, get the Summer 2022 Issue!

For as low as $25/yr, now is a great time to subscribe to Philosophia Christi in time for the Summer 2022 issue (currently set to be released by end of August).
The Summer 2022 issue features a symposium (edited by Kevin W. Wong) on Jordan Wessling’s Love Divine: A Systematic Account of God’s Love for Humanity (Oxford, 2020)with contributions not only from Wessling but also R.T. Mullins, Keith Hess, and Ty Kieser. Wessling’s book – and the book symposium – takes seriously a rigorous account of the nature of divine love, including its importance for thinking about other doctrines and theological methodology. In a recent interview 2022 interview for The Analytic Christian, Jordan Wessling unpacks some of the core concepts of his book and their relevance for various models on divine love.

Additionally, the Summer issue of Philosophia Christi showcases a splendid variety of articles, philosophical notes, and book reviews tapping into discussions about philosophy of mysticism, philosophical naturalism, panpsychism, philosophical anthropology and ethics with contributions from Angus Menuge, Robert Larmer, Stephen Parrish, Andrew Loke, Paul Gould!

Hong Kong Centre for Christian Apologetics

Christianity is growing at a tremendous rate among the Chinese people, the largest ethnic group in the world. There is an unprecedented and urgent need for apologetics training to be given to Chinese Christians, so as to equip them to live lives that are based on solid biblical principles and to be ready to answer difficult questions concerning their faith. Strengthening and equipping Chinese Christians in this way will help to actualize their potential for cross-cultural mission and fulfilling the Great Commission.

In view of this, a group of professors, lecturers and businessman in Hong Kong felt called by the Lord to set up a Centre for Christian Apologetics. The aims of our Centre are:

  1. To raise awareness of the need for apologetics and to promote high quality apologetics in Chinese churches.
  2. Discipleship: To equip and strengthen the body of Christ in the area of apologetics and Christian doctrines, so that they can be more confident in their Christian faith and enjoy a greater intimacy with God.
  3. Evangelism: to train Christians who are able to articulate the reasons for the hope that we have in God, and help pre-believers overcome their obstacles concerning belief in Christ

Our website will continue to add new materials to it (including materials in Chinese).

As we are involved in a spiritual battle, we would appreciate if you would support us in prayer. Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel.

‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’ — Luke 10:2

If you are an EPS member and want to participate in the work of the Hong Kong Centre for Christian Apologetics, please contact Andrew Loke.

A Kryptic Model of the Incarnation

Book Description

The Incarnation, traditionally understood as the metaphysical union between true divinity and true humanity in the one person of Jesus Christ, is one of the central doctrines for Christians over the centuries. Nevertheless, many scholars have objected that the Scriptural account of the Incarnation is incoherent. Being divine seems to entail being omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, but the New Testament portrays Jesus as having human properties such as being apparently limited in knowledge, power, and presence. It seems logically impossible that any single individual could possess such mutually exclusive sets of properties, and this leads to scepticism concerning the occurrence of the Incarnation in history. A Kryptic Model of the Incarnation aims to provide a critical reflection of various attempts to answer these challenges and to offer a compelling response integrating aspects from analytic philosophy of religion, systematic theology, and historical-critical studies. Loke develops a new Kryptic model of the Incarnation, drawing from the Greek word Krypsis meaning ‘hiding,’ and proposing that in a certain sense Christ’s supernatural properties were concealed during the Incarnation.



This book presents an original and important new model for understanding the Incarnation, one that has some interesting virtues and that avoids some of the problems in other models. Although I remain an advocate of Kenotic Christology, I believe this is a significant contribution to the debate.

C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University, USA

Well organised and comprehensive, contributing new material to a debate that is complex and philosophically challenging.

Anna Marmodoro, University of Oxford, UK

Philosophia Christi Winter 2012: Paul Moser’s Religious Epistemology

The very next issue of Philosophia Christi has now mailed! If you are not a current member/subscriber, you can become one today by purchasing here.

This packed issue leads with a resourceful discussion on Paul K. Moser’s religious epistemology, with contributions by Katharyn Waidler, Charles Taliaferro, Harold Netland and a final reply by Moser. This journal contribution not only extends interest and application of Moser’s epistemology but also compliments the EPS web project on “Christ-Shaped Philosophy”.

We also feature interesting work in philosophical theology, including how one might understand “friendship with Jesus” (Michael McFall), the scope of divine love (Jordan Wessling), and how one’s view of original sin relates to a broad free-will defense (W. Paul Franks).

Other significant article contributions address criticisms against Plantinga’s conditions for warrant (Mark Boone), the latest in cosmology and arguments for God’s existence (Andrew Loke) along with further challenges against “central state materialism” (Eric LaRock).

Readers will not want to miss J.P. Moreland’s critique of Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos along with the critique of Christian physicalism by Jonathan Loose. Michael Austin provides a helpful philosophical account of the virtue of humility in light of social science considerations, and Amos Yong critically assesses “relational apologetics” in a global context.

Finally, this issue features book reviews by William Lane Craig, James Stump, Paul Copan, James Bruce and Jason Cruze about books related to the latest on science and theology, cosmology, metaethics, and ethics of abortion. 

See all the articles included in this issue by clicking here.