True Contradictions in Theology?

December 2022

“True Contradictions in Theology?” pp. 17–32 in Paradox and Contradiction in Theology, edited by Jonathan C. Rutledge, Routledge, 2024

In The Contradictory Christ, Jc Beall argues that paraconsistent logic provides a way to show how the central claims of Christology can all be true, despite their paradoxical appearances. For Beall, claims such as “Christ is peccable” and “Christ is impeccable” are both true, with no change of subject matter or ambiguity of meaning of any term involved in each claim. Since to say that Christ is impeccable is to say that Christ is not peccable, these two claims are contradictory, and so, for Beall the conjunction “Christ is peccable and Christ is not peccable” is a true contradiction. This is a radical and original view of the incarnation, and a revisionary view of what is permissible for theological reasoning. Here, I will examine the term “contradiction” that plays such a central role in Beall’s account. I will argue that in Beall’s own conceptual framework, our everyday concept of contradiction bifurcates into two different senses: negation-contradiction and unsatisfiability. I will show that a theologian who avails herself of Beall’s paraconsistent logic when making theological claims may have cast off the shackles of having to make sure that her commitments avoid negation-contradiction, but the heavy burden of ensuring that her commitments are jointly satisfiable remains. Along the way to this conclusion, I will explore some of the connections between concepts from formal logic and the task of theological reflection.

This paper is a chapter in the volume Paradox and Contradiction in Theology, edited by Jonathan C. Rutledge; Routledge, 2024.

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I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, and the Director of the Arché Philosophical Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology I like thinking about – and helping other people think about – logic and philosophy and the many different ways they can inform each other.


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