About Providence, Divine Action and the Church

In this blog, Terry J. Wright posts thoughts and shares research on the Christian doctrine of providence. This doctrine testifies to God’s provision for all things through creation’s high priest, the man Christ Jesus. However, the precise meaning and manner of this provision is a perpetually open question, and this blog is a forum for discussion of the many issues relating to providence and the place of the Church within God’s action.

Monday, 24 June 2013

A Critique of Richard Bauckham on Divine Identity

Dale Tuggy has just published ‘On Bauckham’s Bargain’ (Theology Today 70:2 [2013], pp. 128–143), which critiques Richard Bauckham on the idea of divine identity. Here’s the abstract:
Richard Bauckham argues that every book in the New Testament contains a “christology of divine identity,” according to which Jesus is “included in the divine identity.” He also argues that traditional Christians may avoid or dissolve a large number of theoretical problems by embracing this thesis. Here I clarify the concepts of personal identity, numerical identity, and identifying features, and critically examine Bauckham’s thesis and his arguments for it in light of these analyses. Of central importance is the self-evident truth that a thing cannot at one time differ from itself (the indiscernibility of identicals). It is argued that Bauckham’s thesis is unclear, and that on one interpretation it is manifestly self-inconsistent, while on the other it is too thin in content to do the work Bauckham assigns it, which is expressing “the highest possible christology.” I thus argue that the theoretical costs of Bauckham’s theory outweigh its theoretical benefits. Section I summarizes the touted benefits. Section II clarifies the aforementioned concepts. Section III applies these analyses to Bauckham’s work. In Section IV I weigh some reasons for thinking that the interpretation of Section III is mistaken. Section V continues the interpretive struggle, and VI draws a negative conclusion.

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