Theistic Personalism Definition & Meaning

Jonathan Garner
3 min readFeb 14, 2023

Definition

A view of God that says that God is in the category of being a person like you and me, but without the finite limitations of humans. This view contrasts with classical theism, which asserts that there is a Personal Reality that is Ultimate. In other words, for classical theism, God can’t be reduced to a category or sub-category; there would be no such distinction in God.

Discussion

The implication of this is that theistic personalism tends to reject attributes of God like simplicity, immutability, timelessness, impassibility, etc: classical theism affirms these attributes of God.

So, how does theistic personalism contrast with classical theism? What is the difference between theistic personalism and classical theism? When it comes to characterizing theistic personalism vs classical theism, theistic personalists see God as exemplifying the property of personhood and goodness. On the other hand, for classical theism, God is the Ultimate source of Personhood and Goodness because God is Goodness itself. There’s nothing more fundamental than God on classical theism. This view of God is quite different from the caricatures you see from many atheists or skeptics.

It’s commonly objected that classical theism makes God impersonal, unfeeling, or unloving. But as we’ve seen, this is false; the objection is, therefore, based on a strawman. Since on classical theism, God is Love itself, the objection is absolutely ridiculous!

With all this being said, it’s not as if classical theists and theistic personalists disagree on everything. In fact, in some sense, the latter just is the former, even if the reverse isn’t true. In a broad sense, the term “classical theism” could just mean belief in a God that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good; this is what theistic personalists affirm about God, and classical theists (in the strict sense of the term) affirm this as well. They also agree that God is immaterial, spaceless, everlasting, necessary, eternal, omnipresent, uncaused, etc. So while on theistic personalism God isn’t a creature or a god like Zeus or Poseidon, there is clearly a difference between viewing God as merely a person and God as Personal itself.

Why It Matters

The reason this stuff matters is that theistic personalism appears to make God into a creature — a god, as opposed to THE God; a being, as opposed to Being itself. So…

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Jonathan Garner

Finance/Investing/Economics/Philosophy/Religion blogger. I’m also a Philosophy of Religion blogger:https://jonathandavidgarner.wordpress.com/