A Theology of the Possible

I’ve been working on a project for over a year now which I have been tentatively referring to, and so will be categorizing here as, “A Theology of the Possible.” It’s a spin-off of some of the work I did in my dissertation, specifically on Tolkien, St. Thomas, and William of Ockham on the theological nature of possibility and its implications for sub-creative possibility (as well as the implications that sub-creative possibility might have for how we think of God’s own creative possibility). The idea is to develop a theological answer to the question of possibility (“what does it mean for something to be possible?”) which combines Trinitarian theology (the Son is the “possibility” of the Father, the Spirit is the “possibility” of the Father and Son, etc.), Thomistic metaphysics (actuality is prior to potentiality, existence to essence, etc.), theological poetics, and Tolkien’s theory of sub-creation, especially his view of Fantasy as a combination of Imagination (the mental capacity of forming unreal or strange images) and Art (inhabiting those images in a “secondary world” with the “inner consistency of reality”). I anticipate the theory having application to a range of relevant theological issues, including the doctrine of divine omnipotence (and in particular its historic and scholastic expression in terms of the dialectic of divine absolute and ordained powers), the problem of evil, the infra- and supralapsarian debate within Protestant scholasticism, narrative theology (see Francesca Aran Murphy’s critique, God is Not a Story: Realism Revisited, by Oxford U. Press), the modal apologetics of Leibniz and Plantinga, and the list goes on. So here’s to good intentions!

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