Boiling Boyd Down

maxresdefaultThe title sounds like a form of torture, but all I have in mind is a key portion of Trinity & Process (T&P) that I think distills the heart and soul of Greg’s thesis in a few pages. If you could only read a few pages and wanted to get Greg’s main point, I’d suggest the section under the section A Critical Evaluation And Trinitarian Reconstruction Of Di-Polar Theism on pp. 43-53 of the summary document linked to in the previous post. I hate to say that 10 pages could get it, but these short pages come closer than any other brief selection of the book to expressing Greg’s thesis. That’s not to say you don’t need everything leading up to p. 43 to appreciate the logic or everything that follows to fill out the arguments. But if you want the briefest CliffNotes on T&P, pp. 43-53 will do it.

And once you appreciate what Greg says in this brief section you’ll understand why kenoticism and passibilism of the sort Greg advocates now are, strictly speaking, logically impossible (given T&P that is). It’s right there.

4 comments on “Boiling Boyd Down

  1. rwwilson147 says:

    I’m thinking that because there will always be philosophical uncertainties, EVERY Christian theological perspective is, as you charge G Boyd’s as being, “logically impossible.” LOGIC is not a system of reasoning that is fully adaptable to the verification of theological constructs. Sorry, your arguments against Boyd’s arguments will inevitably fail either pre-suppositional, definitional, systemic consistency, or conclusion continuity requirements for any and all systems of LOGIC. I think you are barking up the wrong tree on this one; Christian theology is not a logical system. A careful analysis of any philosophical or theological thought structure will uncover some flaw(s) in reasoning, perhaps because of our inherent finitude; by the very nature of the limitations in human cognitive abilities others if not we ourselves will discover flaws in our reasoning eventually if not immediately. Religious reasoning, whether based in revelational sources or not, will not meet all the criteria to be considered LOGICAL by others. It is not that I think I have some superior perspective on these things, nor that G Boyd does. I just saw a flaw in Greg’s argument against those who say Jesus is not the only way to God; he used his own presupposition against his antagonists’ arguments instead of their own. I’m pretty sure you will find many flaws in my argument against your critique of Boyd’s perspective; that will confirm my thesis, not undermine it.


    • tgbelt says:

      Hi Richard,

      I think you’re missing my point. I can agree that ‘logic’ isn’t always completely successful in verifying theological constructs. All systems take on water (logically speaking) and have to bail to a certain extent. As true as that is, and as often as I argue it myself, that’s actually beside my point. It’s Greg’s own consistency within the arguments he makes that is at issue. TP is a tightly woven argument, and within the assumed truth of Greg’s arguments in TP it follows that the sort of kenoticism and passibilism he advocates for today is not possible. TP may be wrong and kenoticism correct. Or kenoticism and passibilism may be the case and TP fundamentally false. What’s not possible is for both kenoticism and TP’s core claims to be true. The claims of each are too specific regarding those of the other. So it’s just a consistency issue.

      As for “Christianity” not being a logical system, I quite agree. So does Greg (explicitly so in TP). You can’t get to the truth of the ‘particular’ events (incarnation and resurrection) that define Christianity through analytic reasoning. That also is not what TP pretends to offer. But that’s not to say one cannot form conclusions about the nature of existence (the transcendentals, creation, finitude, aesthetics, morality, etc.) based on reason. Even if in the end one submits these to the claims of faith, that ‘submission’ proceeds in the context of the meaningfulness of the claims relative to faith. So even if general metaphysical conclusions aren’t “Christianity,” one can still hold oneself accountable for the agreement between one’s general metaphysical beliefs and one’s particular Christianity. That’s our beef with Greg. He makes very careful metaphysical arguments in TP (which neither he nor we equate with Christianity) but then espouses a Christianity that contradicts those arguments.

      Richard: I’m pretty sure you will find many flaws in my argument against your critique of Boyd’s perspective; that will confirm my thesis, not undermine it.

      Tom: Which perspective of Boyd’s are you speaking of? That argued for in TP or that (kenoticism/strong passibilism) argued for presently? These are ‘two’ perspectives. My criticism of Greg’s consistency doesn’t include any belief on my part about which perspective is true; only that they are not both true.


      • rwwilson147 says:

        I’m supposing that your argument pinning the (possibly) divergent perspectives penned by Greg Boyd as mutually exclusive is dependent on your presuppositions, whether or not either of his disputed positions is true or not, as you say. If you don’t care whether either of your understandings of his possibly divergent statements is true why are you arguing as if they can’t both be true rather than seeking some possible congruence? Are you really indifferent on these matters? I’m inclined to doubt that given your prior input. Just sayin’.

        I really appreciate your philosophical perambulations on these topics, despite that possibly not being evident in what I’ve said so far.


      • tgbelt says:


        I haven’t presupposed (as in concluded ahead of time before engaging the arguments) the truth value of TP or kenoticism or the possibility of their being conjointly true. I’ve come to some ‘conclusions’ about these, yes. But I didn’t just presuppose things. And I didn’t say I don’t care which is true. I said that where I landed on the truth of the two positions doesn’t matter to the consistency of the claim that both his positions (TP & kenoticism) were true.

        But I don’t mind learning from anyone, so I’d be happy for you to expound TP for us and show us that it’s compatible with kenoticism. I take it you’ve read TP well and know your way around it.

        I’m all ears.



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