Conciliar Christology and the Problem of Incompatible Predications

Timothy Pawl



In this article I canvas the options available to a proponent of the traditional doctrine of the incarnation against a charge of incoherence. In particular, I consider the charge of incoherence due to incompatible predications both being true of the same one person, the God-man Jesus Christ. For instance, one might think that anything divine has to have certain attributes – perhaps omnipotence, or impassibility. But, the charge continues, nothing human can be omnipotent or impassible. And so nothing can be divine and human. So Christ is not both God and man, contrary to the traditional doctrine of the incarnation. To do so, first, in Section II, I will present the problem as a deductively valid argument. I then, in that section, go on to show that the proponent of traditional Christology should grant all but one premise of the argument. In the remaining sections I will canvas possible solutions to the problem. In Section III I discuss three ways to deny Premise 3 of the forthcoming argument. These ways include a Kenotic response, qua-modification (in four versions), and finally a response that accepts the compatibility of the allegedly incompatible predicates.


Conciliar Christology; Kenotic Christology; Qua-clauses; Incarnation; Incompatible Predicates

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