Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What is "Classical Theism"?

I couldn't find a good definition to link to, so I am issuing one henceforth:

Classical Theism: The belief in a single God who can do anything logically possible (omnipotence), knows every true proposition (omniscience), and always makes the maximally loving decisions possible (omnibenevolence). The classical theist's God created and designed everything that is physical (the universe), and more broadly speaking, everything that exists in some sense flows from this God and is dependent on this God. The classical theist's God exists by necessity (aseity), and does not depend on the universe for existence or happiness (transcendence), but chooses to interact with the universe (immanence). While the previous propositions entail the following, it is worth mentioning explicitly that the God posited by "Classical Theism" has definite attributes, including but not limited to emotion, intellect, & will, and is capable of decision-making (personality).

I avoided gender-specific terms in my definition of Classical Theism above. I also tried to keep it to the basics, but fear that even this definition is particular enough to exclude some I would consider Classical Theists (perhaps certain Muslim individuals or even whole sects of Islam or Judaism. Let it be known however, that the Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all considered Classical Theists. In fact, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are considered the three main Classical Theistic religions, although there existed Classical Theists before them [some classify Plato and Aristotle as Classical Theists, for example - or you might argue that Abraham was or became a Classical Theist during his lifetime. You can call him a Jew if you want; whatever].).

My main point here is only to communicate to those of you who don't know that "Classical Theism" is a philosophical and historical term that has a widely understood meaning in academia, entailing at least monotheism, and belief in the "three omni's", as well as transcendence and immanence, and usually a sort of Creationism and also usually a belief in a version of Divine Personality.

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