International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

, Volume 78, Issue 2, pp 151–165 | Cite as

Classical and revisionary theism on the divine as personal: a rapprochement?

  • Elizabeth Burns


To claim that the divine is a person or personal is, according to Swinburne, ‘the most elementary claim of theism’ (The coherence of theism, 1993, p. 101). I argue that, whether the classical theist’s concept of the divine as a person or personal is construed as an analogy or a metaphor, or a combination of the two, analysis necessitates qualification of that concept such that any differences between the classical theist’s concept of the divine as a person or personal and revisionary interpretations of that concept are merely superficial. Thus, either the classical theist has more in common with revisionary theism than he/she might care to admit, or classical theism is a multi-faceted position which encompasses interpretations which some might regard as revisionist. This article also explores and employs the use of a gender-neutral pronoun in talk about God.


Divine personhood Divine agency Analogy Metaphor Revisionary theism Gender-neutral pronoun 



I am grateful to Vincent Brümmer and Victoria Harrison, who drew my attention to their own work on metaphor and religious language, and to Stephen Law and Keith Ward for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Heythrop CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

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