Classical theism

Classical theism

Classical theism refers to the form of theism in which God is characterized as the absolutely metaphysically ultimate being, in contrast to other conceptions such as Pantheism, Panentheism, Polytheism, and Process Theism.

Whereas most theists agree that God is, at a minimum, all-knowing, all-powerful, and completely good,[1] some classical theists go farther and conceive of God as completely transcendent (totallly independent of all else), simple, and having such attributes as immutability, impassibility, and timelessness.[2]

Classical theism is, historically, the mainstream view in philosophy and is associated with the tradition of writers like Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, St. Anselm, Maimonides, Averroes and Thomas Aquinas.[2] In opposition to this tradition, there are, today, philosophers like Alvin Plantinga (who rejects divine simplicity), Richard Swinburne (who rejects divine timelessness) and William Lane Craig (who rejects both divine simplicity and timelessness), who can be viewed as theistic personalists. As well, Gregory Palamas' defense of Hesychasm highlights the Essence-Energies distinction, as understood by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Since classical theistic ideas are influenced by Greek philosophy and focus on God in the abstract and metaphysical sense, they can be difficult to reconcile with the "near, caring, and compassionate" view of God presented in the religious texts of the main monotheistic religions, particularly the Bible.[3]


  1. ^ Pojman and Rea, 2
  2. ^ a b Craig, 98
  3. ^ Pojman and Rae, 3; Jansen, 2


  • Edward Craig, ed. (1998). "God, concepts of". Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Taylor & Francis. 
  • Henry Jansen (1995). Relationality and the concept of God. Rodopi.