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Free Will in Philosophical Theology

Bloomsbury Studies in Philosophy of Religion

by Kevin Timpe


Series: Bloomsbury Studies in Philosophy of Religion
Paperback & Hardcover: 192 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publish Date: November 21, 2013
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1441123318
ISBN-13: 978-1441123312

“This is a splendid contribution to the literature on free will. Set in the borderlands between philosophy and theology, Timpe’s work shows how a substantial vision of free will can be integrated into a robust account of sin and grace.”

— William J. Abraham
Southern Methodist University

Free Will in Philosophical Theology takes the most recent philosophical work on free will and uses it to elucidate and explore theological doctrines involving free will. Rather than being a work of natural theology, it is a work in what has been called clarification-using philosophy to understand, develop, systematize, and explain theological claims without first raising the justification for holding the theological claims that one is working with. Timpe’s aim is to show how a particular philosophical account of the nature of free will–an account known as source incompatibilism–can help us understand a range of theological doctrines.


Kevin Timpe

Kevin Timpe is the William Harry Jellema Chair in Christian Philosophy at Calvin College, and a former Templeton Research Fellow at St. Peter’s College, Oxford University. His research is focused on the metaphysics of free will and moral responsibility, virtue ethics, philosophy of disability, and issues in the philosophy of religion. He is the author of Free Will: Sourcehood and its Alternatives, 2nd edn (Bloomsbury, 2012) and Free Will and Theism (Oxford University Press, 2016). He has edited a number of volumes, including Virtues and Their Vices (OUP, 2014), Arguing about Religion (Routledge, 2009), and The Routledge Companion to Free Will (Routledge, 2016).


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Importance and Nature of Free Will
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Philosophical Theology
1.3 The Nature of Free Will: Source Incompatibilism
1.4 The Issues

Chapter 2: Free Will and the Good
2.1 Choice, the Good, and Teleology
2.2 Reasons and Choice
2.3 Moral Character and Agency
2.4 Moral Character and Habit

Chapter 3: The Primal Sin
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Katherin Rogers on Anselm
3.3 Scott MacDonald on Augustine
3.4 Taking Stock

Chapter 4: Realigning a Fallen Will
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Grace and Theological Determinism
4.3 Non-deterministic Grace
4.4 Stump on Grace and Faith
4.5 Refraining, Quasi-causing, and Control
4.6 Conclusion

Chapter 5: Damned Freedom
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The Traditional Doctrine of Hell
5.3 The Choice Model of Hell
5.4 Death and Psychological Impossibility
5.5 Overcoming Two Objections
5.6 Conclusion

Chapter 6: Perfected Freedom
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Virtue Libertarianism in Heaven
6.3 Warding Off Objections
6.4 Moral Perfection and Purgatory
6.5 Conclusion

Chapter 7: Divine Freedom
7.1 Virtue Libertarianism and History
7.2 Morriston on Moral Freedom and History
7.3 Divine Freedom and Moral Freedom
7.4 God’s Freedom as the Truest Freedom
7.5 Divine Freedom God’s Choice to Create


“There is much to admire in Kevin Timpe’s book. It brings philosophers and Christian theologians into deeper conversation about such issues of shared interest as autonomy, responsibility, meaning, and value. […] We look forward to further discussion of the issues that Timpe has so boldly and brilliantly taken. Even if one disagrees with some of the views he defends, this book is highly valuable since it sets out a coherent and attractive position with clarity and skill.”

–  Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 

“[T]houghtful, well-researched and well-argued …That is not to say, of course, that [Timpe] lays the topics to rest; they will continue to be controversial, just as the very existence of free will remains controversial. But anyone concerned with one or more of these questions will find Timpe’s thoughts about them well worth considering … Disagreements of this sort in no way detract from the excellence of Timpe’s accomplishment in his book; rather, they underscore that excellence by showing how the book provides fodder for further reflection. The work deserves careful consideration by all theologians and philosophers who are engaged with the important problems it addresses.”

Journal of Analytic Theology


“This is a splendid contribution to the literature on free will. Set in the borderlands between philosophy and theology, Timpe’s work shows how a substantial vision of free will can be integrated into a robust account of sin and grace. The concepts deployed are clear, the arguments articulated are felicitous, and the overall result is a book worthy of our closest attention.”

William J. Abraham, Professor of Wesley Studies
Southern Methodist University

“Kevin Timpe applies the insights of his previous excellent work on the nature of free will to a number of central topics in the Biblical drama, from the fall to heaven and hell. The result is a first rate contribution to philosophical theology that is as theologically rich and illuminating as it is philosophically rigorous.”

Jerry L. Walls, Scholar in Residence
Houston Baptist University

“In this volume Kevin Timpe sets out to ‘tell a theological story philosophically.’ This story concerns the place occupied by discussion of free will in Christian theology. It is a story told from a certain perspective, what he calls “philosophical Arminianism,” a version of libertarianism. By attending to some of the most fundamental difficulties in the Christian tradition — problems such as the origin of sin, human freedom in relation to salvation by divine grace, the freedom of those in heaven and and those in hell, and God’s freedom – Timpe offers his readers a rich and powerful case for thinking about contemporary theological concerns in a philosophical key. Clearly written and carefully argued, this is analytic theology at its best.”

Oliver Crisp, Professor of Systematic Theology
Fuller Theological Seminary

“Philosophy of religion and questions concerning free will constitute two of the most vibrant areas in philosophy today. In Free Will and Philosophical Theology Kevin Timpe combines the two. He proposes a version of source incompatibilism – free will means that you, the agent, are the ultimate cause of your choices – and then, with this brand of libertarianism in place, attempts to analyze issues, problems, and puzzles involving free will and traditional Christian doctrine. His topics include the primal sin, grace, the freedom of the damned and the beatified, and divine freedom. These issues are perennial for the Christian thinker, but, to my knowledge, Timpe’s is the first contemporary work to bring them all together in a single analytic volume. The volume makes a real contribution to contemporary analytic philosophy of religion.”

Katherin A. Rogers, Professor of Philosophy
University of Delaware



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